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A good philanthropic partnership relies on several factors (check out our keys to successful partnerships post to learn more). But one of the most important aspects of a philanthropic partnership is authenticity. 

Authenticity seems like a no brainer, but it’s less commonly applied than you’d think. Many times, especially when it comes to working with an athlete, nonprofits jump at the opportunity for the media exposure and awareness that comes along with it. But as we’ve said many times, there are such things are the WRONG partners, and that is all about authenticity.

Here’s how you can make your philanthropic partnerships more authentic and impactful. 

Know Who You Are

Being authentic means understanding what makes sense for you and what fits in with your brand. If you are a nonprofit focused on helping children in Baltimore with financial literacy, don’t partner with an athlete who is passionate about ending hunger. While their mission is commendable, it isn’t something that makes sense or aligns with your organization. 

Instead, whether you are an athlete or a nonprofit, look for partners in your shared space. Are you an athlete who is passionate about fashion? Find a charity that helps empower young people to enter careers in the industry, or that supports those workers that power the industry. Known for your love of video games? Find an organization that fights cyber bullying or creates STEAM education through video game content. 

Don’t try and be someone you aren’t. The most effective partnerships are true to each partner’s brand. Be you!

Know Where You Want to Go

Authenticity isn’t just about knowing who you are, but also understanding your goals for the future. Perhaps you’re an animal welfare nonprofit who has found 3 potential athlete partners also passionate about protecting animals to bring on board. How do you know which athletes are the best fit?

The first place to start is your goals. What are you working towards over the next calendar year? How much money do you need to raise for funding your programs for the next 6 or 12 months? Are you looking to grow your following on digital media channels?

These questions are important to have answered. It doesn’t make sense to bring on a partner if they can’t help you reach your goals, no matter how great of a fit they are from a branding perspective. 

If you are trying to build your social media presence and get more individual donors, it may be better to work with an athlete with a large following online and have them share upcoming campaigns, fundraising events and other opportunities on their channels.

But if you are more focused on building up corporate partners and large donors, it could be more beneficial to talk to an athlete who is passionate about networking in the corporate space, attending events and creating a fundraising arm for their followers, fans and supporters. They can reach out to contacts in their network about getting involved with your organization on their behalf.

Both sides of the partnership will have their own goals they are bringing to the table. The important thing is to find synergies between the two and make sure both parties are moving in the same direction. 

Don’t Get Caught Up in the Hype – Know Your Why

This is the most important part of being authentic, and it’s also the simplest. Know your why. Why is the cause important to you personally as an athlete or to your organization? This is what draws people in to support your cause.

If you can’t answer why you are involved with the initiative, how can you expect anyone else to buy in? 

You need a compelling story to share on why the partnership is being created and why each of you care about the issue. This story will encourage people to feel more connected and compelled to get involved. 

Authenticity leads to trust and goodwill, and will encourage the right people who share that passion to get involved as well. 

Don’t know where to start when it comes to philanthropic partnerships? Let us help! Our team can help you brainstorm your best opportunities for partnership and authentic engagement in the community. Contact us today to schedule a brainstorming session or a workshop

Post Author: Danielle Berman

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