I hear all the time from clients that they need to source some new prospects. After all, new prospects lead to an increase in revenue… right? Well, that depends. Money in the form of sponsorship, grants, etc. doesn’t always come from the creation of new partnerships (which require you to start from zero). More often than not, you’re actually better off prioritizing ways to find the most revenue in the partnerships you already have.

How to build on current partnerships

First things first, review your list of companies and identify overlap between their values and yours – or what I like to call alignment. Choose one or two that really stand out. Ideally, you are focusing on companies where you have consistently and effectively delivered on your current partnership. Now that you’ve identified which partners to target, here’s what you do next:

Step 1: Assess your relationships.

Before you start growing your relationship, you need to make sure the foundation is strong and sticky. I’ve written about stickiness before, so if you need to learn more on that read here.

You can’t build on a shaky foundation, so during this assessment phase, take the time to strengthen your relationship by doing one (or all) of these three things:

  1. Set up a “thank you” outreach between your board/senior leader and the senior leader at the company.
  2. Make sure all your fulfillment reports are up to date. If it’s a while before the next one is due, send out a short impact update email just to touch base.
  3. Maintain visibility. Send your partners a note, support them on social media, and show up at their events.

Step 2: Identify room to improve.

Taking your partnership to the next step means thinking about ways to expand a good thing. Let the brainstorming begin. For example, can you access new departments in the corporation for additional funding? If you are currently receiving your support as a grant, is there a sponsorship opportunity? If you are currently receiving support as a sponsorship, is there an employee engagement opportunity?

If you can’t come up with ways to expand, look at the partnerships your corporate partner has with other charities, research other partnerships in the sector, and see if you can generate some new ideas.

Step 3: Turn words into action.

Now it’s time to put words into action! But how?  

You could ask for an update call. In this call you do not make an offer. You listen and you provide them with relevant updates about your organization. Find out what is going on at their company, ask questions and begin to test the possibility of their openness to an expanded offer.

Another option is to share successful partnership examples with your corporate partner community. Consider profiling a partnership in your newsletter or writing a short case study for dissemination among your network. The idea here is to start getting them thinking about what is possible, and to signal that you are thinking about it too.

Short on case studies? Let me know! I can definitely share an article or 2 that will get you started.

Step 4: Call a discovery meeting.

Even if you have the best idea ever, the next step has to be a discovery meeting. In this meeting, you want to facilitate an open dialogue where you can offer up more directly some ideas you believe will resonate.

After listening closely to what they have to say and gauging their response to your initial inquiry – it’s time to propose. Be patient: if you already have funding support, this could take some time. Your new proposal has to create a new benefit for the company, so keep strategizing and find a way to make your case. Follow up, adjust your proposal and stay in touch. If you are persistent, and creative, it will happen! It is possible to build your prospect pipeline by growing the partnerships you already have. And while it is not easy, it can be very successful for both of you.

You’ve got this!

P.S I know that this can be a lot of work. So, if you need help with this, give me a call. Strategizing on how to grow partnerships is one of my favorite things to do. And I may have a template or two that can help speed up the process. If you think a little help is all you need, reach out and let’s figure it out together!