The Y Community

Stronger Nonprofit and Business Partnerships Can Drive Greater Impact

Suzanne McCormick
Stronger Nonprofit and Business Partnerships Can Drive Greater Impact

Section 1

As the public’s trust in government and other institutions continues to fall, expectations for businesses continue to rise. More people — especially younger generations — are looking to businesses to take action on today’s big societal issues.

Signs of this shift are everywhere. Two-fifths of Gen Z workers, a generation that’s especially motivated by a sense of purpose and strong social conscience, say they wouldn’t accept a job if their potential employer’s business clashed with their values. Likewise, in an era of mindful consumption, 44 percent of consumers say they’re willing to pay premium prices for products from brands that make a positive impact on the world.

I think this moment of changing expectations is creating a unique opportunity for new and more impactful partnerships between businesses and nonprofits.

Such partnerships are powerful because they allow businesses and nonprofits to bring their respective strengths to the table. Businesses that want to extend their social impact benefit from the unique expertise, relationships, insights and community trust that nonprofits have built over time. Nonprofit partners can help businesses better understand the specific needs of their communities and focus their resources in ways that align with their values.

At the same time, nonprofits benefit from an often-critical infusion of resources. More than 60 percent of nonprofits say they’re seeing increased demand for their services, but nearly a third are experiencing less funding and fewer resources to fulfill their missions. Given these challenges, support from for-profit partners has become critical.

Every day, I get to see how these partnerships open doors and improve the quality of life for so many people. To help the Y better meet the needs of our communities, we’ve worked with partners in a wide range of ways. These collaborations have made it possible for us to simply do more – more water safety classes, more healthy meal programs and more transformational camp experiences to help more kids grow healthier and stronger.

Nonprofits and businesses have always partnered, but now is the time to push these partnerships to do more.
Suzanne McCormick

Section 2

Support for Employee Engagement

Employees also benefit when their employer partners with nonprofits. Such partnerships can help improve morale and create the greater sense of purpose that so many are craving today. Company volunteer programs are particularly powerful drivers of employee engagement. Nearly 90 percent of employees say that companies foster a better working environment through volunteer opportunities. In today’s highly competitive talent market, offering prospective employees opportunities to make a positive impact is as good for business as it is for local communities.

Joined hands in shape of heart blue icon.Partnering in a Moment of Polarization

There’s another reason partnerships are important today: they serve as a model for what’s possible when people, companies and organizations find new ways to work together and further their shared goals.

This example is one that society desperately needs. In a recent survey, nearly two-thirds of people say they've seen an unprecedented lack of civility and mutual respect in their daily lives. Almost one quarter of countries, including the United States, are experiencing both deep division and entrenched views.

And yet, I believe there is always common ground to be found if we are open to possibilities and willing to reach outside of our comfort zones. When we work with new people or new organizations, we strengthen a culture of collaboration, build new connections and affirm that we’re always stronger together.

Nonprofits and businesses have always partnered, but now is the time to push these partnerships to do more. Let's find innovative ways to marry the business sector’s resources, technology and platforms with the nonprofit sector’s community connections and understanding so we can create more and better solutions that draw us together, give us purpose and further the greater good.

About the Author

Suzanne McCormick is President and CEO of YMCA of the USA. She is the 15th person and first woman to lead the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA).


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