Winston Churchill once described Britain and the USA as ‘two nations divided by a common language’. Similarly, NFPs and corporates operate in the same community but speak their own special languages. Having worked on both sides of the fence, I’ve had to expand my vocab every time I change jobs. How many acronyms do you use in your non-profit? Do you know your IDPs from your NFIs? Or UNDP from WASH?* Newcomers, and especially corporate partners, can feel like they’ve landed in a different country without a dictionary.
Language can be a powerful tool to bring people together, or it can create unnecessary divisions. When you’re trying to make a big dent into society’s wicked problems, you can’t do it alone. Corporate partners bring the heaps of money, resources, skills and assets you need.
To build effective partnerships, each side needs to understand the other’s language. Greater understanding of each other’s priorities, drivers and needs will lead to stronger, mutually beneficial partnerships.
Before you embark on ‘educating’ your corporate partner by sharing your important acronyms, think about what’s important to them. Let’s take a quick browse through the typical corporate dictionary.
NPS- Net Promoter Score.
Used as a measure of customer satisfaction. The higher the NPS, the more customers will buy your goods and services. A key indicator for retailers, marketers and service businesses. If a partnerships with your non-profit can increase your corporate’s NPS then you’ve got their undying love.
The number of customers you retain and at what value. It’s more profitable to keep loyal customers than find new ones. How can a partnership with your non-profit contribute to keeping customers happy? When Moxi partnered with AfriPads, they donated sanitary pads to match every purchase made. It was a roaring success with Moxi’s young and socially engaged audience, increased their NPS and reduced attrition to competing brands.
LTV- lifetime value
This is the net profit for an entire future relationship with a customer. The longer the relationship, the higher the LTV. Same with your fundraising donors. How can a partnership get your corporate’s customers excited and inspired about staying with them?
Long Term Injury Frequency Rate. Something that mining, extractives and every corporate working with dangerous equipment wants to minimise. Look at the causes of injury, such as mental health, alcohol, drug use, stress. Could your non-profit help to address the causes and reduce the corporate’s LTIFR?
Share of voice
Often used in PR or paid advertising, it tells a corporate how much their brand is being talked about in their marketplace. Could your charity help with brand cut-through in a competitive marketplace? You don’t need to have a household brand name yourself, just a compelling story and a strong proposition. Also, a great way to piggy-back off your corporate partner’s big advertising budget and channels.
If you want to build strong partnerships, then spend a little time immersing yourself in what matters to a corporate and their language. Don’t bamboozle them with your cause’s technical terms. Instead, speak to them in their language and see their eyes light up in recognition. Otherwise, you’ll be like two deaf people shouting at each other and you won’t get far.
Want to learn how to speak corporate? Or create awesome partnerships? Here are three ways we can help:
- Subscribe to our Partnerships News in the box below and get our latest blogs, tips and free resources.
- Register for our next group training program Partnership Acquisition Skills to sharpen your sales skills.
- Book a free 30 min health check about your partnerships: firstname.lastname@example.org
*In case you’re wondering:
IDP- Internally Displaced People
NFI- Non-food items
UNDP- United Nations Development Program
WASH- water, sanitation and hygiene programs