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What Companies Stand to Gain From Partnering With a Nonprofit

By BCRF | June 21, 2023

And how to pick the right cause and charity

Companies and brands have been powerful forces for good in philanthropy—helping propel many nonprofit missions forward and supporting important work in numerous causes and fields.

By galvanizing their collective millions of consumers, employees, and brands, BCRF’s world-class partners have funded 7.6 million hours of lifesaving breast cancer research since our founding. Simply put: Our progress and the incredible breakthroughs we have made in breast cancer—from prevention to metastasis—wouldn’t have been possible without these dedicated and passionate companies and brands.

Maybe your brand’s leadership hasn’t considered a corporate giving program. Or maybe your brand is looking to launch its first philanthropic initiative or deepen its existing program by adding a new nonprofit partner. Whatever the reason, the time could not be better to give back, set your brand apart in the market, engage customers and employees—and so much more.

As the highest-rated breast cancer research organization in the country, BCRF has helped set the standard for corporate philanthropy and cause marketing. Our cause marketing program is recognized as the “gold standard” for the nonprofit sector by the New York State Attorney General’s Office for a reason.

Here, we offer our advice for identifying a cause and finding a reputable nonprofit to support—and why such a partnership is a win-win.

Why your brand should partner with a nonprofit

Beyond advancing a great cause, a partnership with a reputable nonprofit comes with several surprising secondary benefits for companies themselves.

Top among them: When a company shows that it lives up to its values—such as through a robust nonprofit partnership—it can generate positive sentiment and more credibility with consumers, employees, shareholders, and other stakeholders.

Nonprofit partners can also help companies communicate the importance of a given mission or cause to both consumers and employees. BCRF partners have encouraged women to stay on top of screenings and helped promote science-based, potentially lifesaving information about breast cancer to their millions of email subscribers, social media followers, and employees, and so much more.

For employees specifically, a nonprofit partnership provides an opportunity to make their work more meaningful. According to a 2021 survey from the management consulting company Gartner, 56 percent of employees said that the COVID-19 pandemic made them “want to contribute more to society.” In other words, many employees now want to feel their work has purpose and to see how their directives and goals contribute to that purpose. Donations to a nonprofit can help.

At BCRF, our corporate partners’ employees have rallied to independently fundraise for lifesaving breast cancer research, and many—particularly breast cancer thrivers and their loved ones—have shared that activations for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and beyond make them feel especially proud of where they work.

“Every single year I am blown away by the commitment of our employees and customers to come together to support BCRF and its mission of finding a cure,” said Allison Ausband, executive vice president and chief customer experience officer at longtime BCRF partner Delta Air Lines. “At Delta, giving back is in our DNA, and BCRF is [one] way we support each other and the local communities where Delta people live, work, and serve.”

More and more, consumers want to support brands that do good. A recent McKinsey survey on consumer sentiment found this to be especially true of Millennial and Gen Z shoppers. More than two-thirds of younger respondents said environmental, social, and governance factors were very important to them, and their top concern was that a company showed it “put people before profits.” Thoughtful nonprofit partnerships can help companies drive consumer engagement and increase brand loyalty over time.

How to identify the right cause

There’s no one way to choose the right nonprofit partner for your brand, but there are a few guiding questions companies can consider as a starting point:

Who are my customers?

Many of BCRF’s corporate and small business partners overwhelmingly serve and employ women. Worldwide, an estimated 2.3 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer—one every 14 seconds somewhere in the world. Breast cancer is by far the most common cancer diagnosed in American women. In fact, every two minutes, an American woman hears the words: “You have breast cancer.” Breast cancer potentially impacts one in eight of your female customers and employees at some point in their lifetimes—and many more people know someone who has been impacted.

Considering who your brand loyalists are and what they care about can help your brand narrow down opportunities for your company to make a philanthropic impact that really resonates—as the leading women’s retail apparel brands Ann Taylor and LOFT have done over their 19-year partnership with BCRF.

“Customers want to support and do business with organizations that do good, and BCRF has really resonated with them,” said Executive Chair and CEO Lizanne Kindler. “The fact that we support this cause deepens the relationship we have with our customers. They have a loyalty to our brand that goes beyond clothes.”

What cause will excite and unite my employees?

Employee fundraising and engagement programs are an especially powerful way to help coworkers connect—especially when they work remotely or across different areas. BCRF partner Cytiva fuels innovative BCRF-supported research in metastatic breast cancer. Its employees across the globe show their support for BCRF through fundraising and engagement programs, and the company works with sister brands across their Danaher parent company to promote employees’ efforts.

Do our founders, leaders, and employees have personal connections to a particular cause?

Founder-led companies may be drawn to causes based on founders’ experiences or values especially —or, at non-founder–led brands, those experiences and values shared by several company leaders or employees. Several BCRF partners became committed to breast cancer research after founders and CEOs underwent treatment for breast cancer or lost loved ones to the disease. Kendra Scott, for example, donates hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to research in honor of their namesake founder’s best friend, who tragically passed away from metastatic breast cancer.

How to find your perfect nonprofit partner

Because a philanthropic initiative reflects on your company or brand (and vice versa), due diligence is critical. Especially when you are exploring a product that gives back or a donation at checkout program, your consumers and employees need to trust that their hard-earned dollars will be spent wisely. Your ideal nonprofit partner should be highly rated, transparent, and fiscally responsible. They should also be prepared to help you effectively communicate the impact of your partnership and talk about a cause in a way that is respectful and thoughtful (for BCRF, that often means ensuring our partners do not pinkwash or trivialize breast cancer).

Charity Navigator and Charity Watchdog are good starting points to evaluate nonprofits and help guide initial partnership conversations.

There’s no question that partnering with a nonprofit boosts loyalty and reaches key consumers, among many more benefits. Most important: Corporate philanthropy is a powerful way for companies and brands to meaningfully make an impact and give back now and for the future.