2021 Profit-Purpose Partnership Trends
CategoriesCorporate Alliances / Cause Marketing / Trends / Social Impact
The understatement of the year: 2020 changed everything! It changed the way we fundraise, the way we connect others to our mission, the way we serve our communities, and even what we need out of collaboration. Purpose partnerships stepped into their authentic light and made significant strides toward change across multiple sectors.
As we learn from the past year and look forward toward progress, we anticipate that many of the key trends and themes we’ve witnessed will grow into mainstay norms. We all know that purpose partnerships are powerful. When we join sectors, join resources, and create collaborative goals – big things can happen to change the course of our world for the better.
We expect partnerships will thrive in 2021 leveraging innovation, continued commitments toward sustainability and systemic equity, and the ongoing need for inclusivity and basic human connection. These core themes will lay the foundation for new ways of partnering, new industries to partner with and new approaches to effectuating the change we want to see in the world.
With so much activity, so much hope, where should you set your focus to grow your profit-purpose partnerships?
Familiarize yourself and your team with purpose threads.
Five trends struck us as standout themes in 2020 and ones we expect will continue…
- Mixed Reality
As defined by Microsoft, Mixed Reality is a blend of physical and digital worlds, unlocking the links between human, computer, and environment interaction.
In 2020, we witnessed a necessity to leverage technology and build new digital experiences to support mission-focused fundraising and business as usual. As in-person connections are still limited, nonprofits have adopted a hybrid fundraising reality – one that marries the physical and virtual world – as a mainstay moving forward.
Partnership Example: Hellmann’s Canada + Second Harvest, Canada
- Sustainable Gains
From the plant-based revolution, to continued waste reduction, from greener sourcing to carbon transparency, companies cross-industry are making (and reporting) their sustainable strides while building significant customer trust along the way. 2020 bore fruit to new and innovative ways for brands to communicate their tangible traction, not just lofty commitments.
Partnership Example: Just Salad’s Carbon Labeling
Social issues are still a source of fulfillment for many individuals. Giving back, making a difference, and inciting change makes us feel human again. Many nonprofit organizations leveraged technology in 2020 to connect people with their mission and satisfy this basic human need.
Partnership Example: Poly and Global Nomads Group
- Systemic Justice
2020 was a turning point for exposing systemic racial bias within our culture and Corporate America. It also demanded that companies take concerted actions toward building a diverse and inclusive workforce. 85% of Americans expect companies to help address racial inequality (up from 81% in 2018). While consumer call for change was evident, the impact of systemic justice on a company’s bottom line could be the underlying reason behind a swell of adoption in 2020.
Partnership Example: Apple launches $100M Racial Equity and Justice Initiative
- Inclusive Norms
2020 underscored the need for a greater understanding, empathy and acceptance of everyone – regardless of their ethnicity, disability, race, gender or orientation. As we enter 2021, there is an even greater call for unity and healing within the U.S. and globally. Companies are now creating products and partnerships that invite and welcome all types of customers. It’s no longer the exception, but the norm.
Partnership Example: LEGO and the American Printing House
Keep a pulse on the economic and purpose forecast.
Historically, the state of the economy and the state of philanthropy are directly correlated. Both typically witness a decline in times of recession and reap a surge in fundraising in times of economic recovery. With the extreme rise of corporate citizenship in recent years, and the shifts it took on in 2020, it’s important to study economic forecasts in order to better anticipate the future of profit-purpose partnerships. The global economy will enter 2021 at a subdued growth rate and accelerate to a brisk pace in the second half of the year. Over the next three, six and twelve months many industries will rebound from their lows in 2020. Some will experience exponential growth, while others will strengthen some but will remain below norms. Download our full trend report for a comprehensive look at economic, corporate philanthropy and industry forecasts.
Dig into ripe industries.
So many industries are still struggling coming out of 2020, but perhaps even more are thriving. Dive into the new frontier and consider building partnerships with brands you have never approached before. The Top 10 industries we think are ripe for partnerships are:
- Cyber Security
- Digital Marketing
- Grocery + Food Delivery
- Video Conferencing
- Video Streaming
Check out our full trend report for insights on the growth trajectory of these industries and proven partnership traction thus far.
Level-up your strategies.
The intersection of profit and purpose is only growing and becoming more crowded. To remain competitive, focused and exponentially grow your programs, you must focus, customize, target and operationalize partnership development and stewardship. More specifically, consider these top trending partnership strategies…
- Leveraging Basic Business Principles.
With less resources and big goals, partnership professionals must accomplish more with less. This requires a more targeted approach to development, leveraging basic business principles to support growth.
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we must evolve and step into a new way of living. Nonprofits and companies are collaborating to create innovative social solutions that make tangible impact.
- Asset Development.
A new world requires new ways of communicating and connecting. Nonprofits are reassessing their opportunities to engage and add value to their corporate supporters.
- Net Revenue.
With 85% of a nonprofit’s corporate income comprised of recurring revenue, stewardship has always been a priority. Sophisticated nonprofits are now focusing on generating more support from their current partners.
I personally believe in the power of partnerships – I always have! It’s exciting to see the growth in commitment and sophistication with which Corporate America approaches its purpose-driven strategies. I’m proud to support so many charitable organizations who are on the frontlines of social change every day. They are innovative, resourceful and resilient! Blending these two sectors for the purpose of solving our most pressing challenges can be magical. Let’s create some magic in 2021! Only together can we achieve it…
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