Most nonprofit organizations will identify funding in the list of their top three needs. Year over year, the story is the same. In a recent training that I was facilitating with a few dozen nonprofits, I asked participants to share what specifically they needed funding for. Many provided general responses such as staffing, programs and supplies. I pushed further and asked for more specifics. Very few gave much more detail which left me feeling both uninspired to give and motivated to address this issue that I saw far too often in my corporate philanthropy role at Capital One.

Having been responsible for fundraising goals at nonprofit organizations with budgets ranging from $200K to $7.5M, I know how challenging securing funds can be for nonprofits. I also know that the resources for nonprofits to fulfill their missions are available – every year, fundraising is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece of the puzzle represents a donor. At times, our pieces fall into place with ease – think about the corner pieces – those donors that remain passionate and invested in our work every year.  Then there are those pieces that we just can’t find or don’t know exactly where they fit – those donors that we have been cultivating forever or the gaps in funding that we report each month.

The fact is that all of the pieces exist – the resources to achieve our fundraising goals are out there. We get so bogged down with our traditional fundraising tactics – that ever-growing to-do list that haunts us every day – that we don’t take time to step back and look at the big picture. We don’t pause to look at the jigsaw puzzle box to remind ourselves what the big vision is and consider alternative strategies to achieving our goals.

Business partnerships are one area of opportunity for many nonprofits. Sponsorship funding is secured but so many other pieces of the partnership puzzle remain untapped.  The expertise of employees at businesses could help us revamp our social media strategies or update our employee handbook or analyze all that program data we have collected to identify key trends for strategic planning. Leadership at a business can be tapped for working groups, standing committees, young professional groups and boards of directors. Product donations can support our programming, and HR coaching can enhance our nonprofit staff engagement and management skills.

And let’s not forget the value that nonprofit organizations bring to businesses. We help amplify their brand and strengthen their community reputation. Our programs elevate the quality of life in communities where their employees live and deepen enrichment opportunities at their kids’ schools and after-school programs. We provide talent development and employee engagement opportunities that drive up the productivity, retention and satisfaction of their workforce. Our partnership work strengthens connections across sectors, expanding networks and deepening our collective sense of community.

Nonprofit-business partnerships often take time to develop and require transparency as we get grounded in each other’s goals, cultures and perspectives. But when managed effectively, these partnerships can accelerate our impact by driving forth solutions rooted in innovation and sustainable change.

To learn more about proven strategies for building effective business partnerships, register today for our FREE webinar on Tuesday, January 31 at 2pm ET: