Transformational Corporate Relations

Continuing on with our theme this week about concrete steps you can take to move your development program from transactional to Transformational, consider this corporate relations gem from Time Magazine.

Corporate relations initatives are either nonexistent or strikingly transactional at most nonprofits. The most common initiative is the corporate sponsorship, which goes something like this:

‘So for a $5,000 banquet sponsorship our executive director will plaster your logo to his forehead, we’ll mention your name in the program, and our next pregnant staff member will name his or her child after your company. What do you say?’

Never mind that such an approach is thoroughly transactional and largely ineffective. Worse, it rarely if ever leads to ongoing involvement in the cause by the corporation. And it doesn’t even contemplate the possibility that we might have a responsibility and an opportunity to coach corporations in relation to the cause.

Consider the appealing alternative reported by Time Magazine:


As the article describes, Carrotmobs are kind of like reverse boycotts. The Carrotmob solicits bids from stores asking what percentage of profits the store is willing to donate to a specified cause should the mob be able to generate business at such and such a level.

While Carrotmobs so far have by and large been focused on the environmental movement, there’s no reason why the concept can’t be applied to Kingdom causes. After all, think of the multiple opportunities for transformation:

  • Businesses can be coached on profitable ways to impact the cause
  • New participants can be recruited for your cause. As the article notes, ‘Carrotmobs also carry extra appeal during tough economic times. Participants don’t have to donate anything. They just shop for products they were planning to buy anyway, adjusting the time and place of purchase. By doing so, they help green a local business.’

Best of all, it’s a win-win-win proposition. Unlike a boycott, there’s no rancor and no losers.

  • The business wins (increased sales).
  • The nonprofit wins (businesses–not just the winner but every business approached about submitting a proposal–learn about the cause; in addition, new participants can easily be recruited by the nonprofit’s owner-level champions).
  • The champions win (growing in relation to the cause).

Make sure to click through to the article so you can see an example of how owner-level champions and not organizations are tasked and equipped to recruit new participant-level champions for the cause. The story about Tony Montagnaro is worth the click in and of itself. Not only he is an owner recruiting participants, but he created a great SPP (Signature Participation Project) in the process. Not at all bad for a 19-year old who wouldn’t have even survived the wealth screening donor ranking rigamarole in most nonprofits!

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is the former International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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