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March 24, 2020 // Scott Pansky // Opinion  //       //  Opinion

Brands, Don’t Forget Your Nonprofits - They Can Help Too

By: Scott Pansky

Sometimes it takes a crisis to bring people together. I can’t think of one bigger than COVID-19. It impacts everyone, whether you represent a company, cause or educational institute. We have not seen anything like this in a century, and its effect on the economy is staggering.  

Yet, brands continue to step up. They donate cash and supplies to numerous organizations, such as Meals on Wheels, No Kid Hungry and Feeding America, as well as to their local food banks. We have even seen brands change their business models, like GM and Tesla, which now make ventilators.  

However, many companies are unable to help. They need to help themselves. They need ways to reach their customers when the media is focused on the current news. They need to reach their employees, many of whom are working from home for the first time. They need new ways to keep their teams engaged and motivated.

Nonprofit partnerships can help make a difference. These cause-related relationships are more than transactional – they are about making an authentic difference, positively impacting both consumers and donors. Here are ways that charities can help support a company:

  • Indirect access to donors and volunteers – Nonprofits have strong and loyal donors and volunteer databases of individuals who support them. Newsletters and emails can be tapped to recognize a company and share its news as a partner.
  • Webinars, online content, events and conference calls - Nonprofits are using new ways to communicate and reach their supporters. Whether through Zoom and Skype or social media channels, this is an opportunity for brands to provide thought leadership, guidance and support.
  • Employee engagement Companies build partnership with many different types charities, whether in the arts, youth activities, health and wellness, etc. Most causes have employee engagement programs. Traditional walks, runs, golf tournaments and galas are on hold. However, charities can still host virtual events, post video content and provide tips for exercise, mental health and online projects.
  • Volunteer projects – Employees can still volunteer their time, but they can do it from home. Companies can work with charity partners to create a call to action, empower team members to make a difference… whether that is through a fundraising campaign, sending get well cards to senior centers and youth organizations, or donating gift cards. Brainstorm fun, easy-to-implement things.
  • Influencer relations – Don’t forget the power of influencers. Many charities, like brands, have celebrity and social influencers who support their causes. They can create campaigns that offer followers and donors positive tips, activities or a fundraising call to action during this critical time. Through a past A+P whitepaper, Powerful Connections, we found those who followed influencers authentically linked to a brand would either donate or volunteer at a much higher rate (33%) than direct mail. 

Lastly, Percent Pledge (a current client) can also help employers connect employees to nonprofits in a remote-friendly way. Their easy-to-use technology helps employees donate to any nonprofits the company supports, then keeps those employees engaged with personalized impact reports. Remember, your charities are your partners; now they can help you engage newly remote teams while you help them during this time of increased need!

Remember, your charities are your partners – they are here for you in times of duress just as your companies are there for them!

If you’re a nonprofit in need of advice on how to navigate these challenging times, get in touch at or sign up for our weekly COVID-19 updates.

Scott Pansky is a co-founder of the agency and leads Allison+Partners’ Social Impact group. Scott has extensive experience providing communications and crisis counsel to nonprofit organizations and developing board + ambassador training programs.


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