Thus, we reached out to our good friend and Interim Executive Director at SOS Outreach, Seth Ehrlich. Ehrlich has been employed at SOS Outreach for nine years and is in charge of the organization's corporate donor relationship management. You can read more about Ehrlich's professional background below in the right hand column and more about SOS Outreach at the very end of the article.
You can read our interview with Ehrlich below. Several factors he mentions are the steps for businesses to get involved in working with a charity as well as what it takes to create a long-lasting, impacting relationship. Ehrlich also talks about why returns for both the charity and the business are necessary and how SOS is able to achieve that symbiotic relationship with its partners.
Confluence: What you said sounds like any other business or personal relationship, that being honest and clear with one another is important for the partnership to succeed year-after-year. For your corporate partners that are smaller organizations or who you have not had as long of a relationship with, what do you do to get them involved and then continue to support to make long-term impacts?
Confluence: We like the fact that you say that you include businesses into the national SOS community and that you are trying to connect the business directly to the youth. Recently we have had more discussions around the question that if one gives to charity and is expecting a return, is it still charity. What is your take on this since you are also trying to provide returns to your corporate partners for a mutually beneficial relationship?
Ehrlich: Returns matter for corporations just as much as they matter for an individual in determining where to donate their funds and where to partner. Returns are core components of a relationship and are not necessarily in the most literal sense of receiving a payment. Whenever a corporation gets involved in the community, they are making an investment in the community, and they should expect a return on that investment. If they approach the relationship with that perspective, it is more likely that they will target their giving to where it resonates the most with their employees, company values, and organization goals. On the corporate side, those returns can include the ability to volunteer with a program in an effort to increase employee morale to expectations of marketing integration that increase positive touch points. I have seen relationships be the most successful when both the nonprofit and the corporate partner are transparent about their expectations and are working together meet those goals. Through transparency, you can evaluate the value and determine if there is a fit. When there isnât a fit, you are able to make a decision from a position of knowledge and move on to the next partnership. It is unique when you analyze relationships from a different perspective and value them.
Confluence Two final questions for you: Where do you see the corporate-charity relationship heading for the next few years? What hopes do you have for the future of SOS' corporate partnerships?
Ehrlich: In the next few years, I see the continued growth of corporate-charity relationships that will push beyond one-time donations and event sponsorships. More and more organizations are defining community impact as a part of their success, and they are seeing employee and customer engagement as being tied to their financial returns.
For future SOS partnerships, I anticipate seeing more and more relationships that involve multiple facets of their business models and will create a bridge between the organizations. I have already seen our corporate partners more interested in highlighting their partnership with SOS publicly and having a desire to get more involved with programs. I look forward to seeing how we can further develop from here.