Powering Cause Marketing Through Corporate Partnerships

Candi Maciel, Director of Corporate Partnerships at Best Friends Animal Society, discusses how Best Friends Animal Society is leveraging corporate partnerships to further their mission-critical work. Listen to the full podcast now to gain insights into examples of successful partnership collaborations and Candi's recommendations for forming authentic partnerships.

Special Guest: Candi Maciel; Director of Corporate Partnerships at Best Friends Animal Society

On this episode of the Impact Exchange, we were joined by Candi Maciel, Director of Corporate Partnerships at Best Friends Animal Society, to discuss how Best Friends Animal Society is leveraging corporate partnerships to further their mission-critical work. 

Candi shared her expertise on incorporating corporate partnerships that align with nonprofit goals. This podcast episode dives into Best Friend Animal Society’s mission, their experience with forming authentic partnerships with businesses, and valuable lessons for both nonprofits and brands looking to collaborate effectively in the cause marketing space.

Listen to the podcast to learn more about Candi’s perspective on the following:

  • Examples of successful partnership collaborations and the outcomes of those partnerships.
  • Challenges that Best Friends Animal Society has faced when forming corporate partnerships and how they overcome them.
  • Advice for nonprofits and businesses looking to form corporate-nonprofit partnerships.

Listen to The Impact Exchange Podcast:

A Look into Best Friends Animal Society’s Mission

Best Friends Animal Society is a national nonprofit organization committed to saving the lives of companion animals across the United States. Their mission revolves around providing support and training to animal shelters and rescue groups, collaborating with communities to assist pets in need, and ultimately working towards reducing the number of animals euthanized in shelters to zero by 2025.

Candi has been working in the animal welfare field for over 10 years, initially co-founding a successful 501(c)(3) dog-rescue in California and then moved into the corporate world to work full-time for Best Friends Animal Society in 2011. 

At Best Friends Animal Society, Candi and her team are responsible for building and stewarding corporate giving relationships, including: cause-related partnerships, sponsorships, workplace giving/employee engagement, licensing, in-kind partnerships, and corporate foundation giving. 

How Best Friends Animal Society is Forming Corporate Partnerships

Raising Awareness and Education for Animal Welfare

Molly Trerotola: How does Best Friends incorporate corporate partnerships and how do they contribute to your mission and align with your nonprofit’s goals?

Candi Maciel: As a nonprofit organization we need to raise money to be able to do the work and the programs that need to be done to save animals, but we also find a lot of value with partners that can support Best Friends through brand awareness. I am a firm believer that one of the things that we have to overcome in animal welfare is the educational-side.

Candi explains that spreading awareness around the importance of supporting animal welfare is crucial to saving pets in need. In 2022, nearly 378,000 dogs and cats were killed in animal shelters in the U.S. 

Source: Best Friends Animal Society

Through education, Best Friends Animal Society is able to increase awareness and garner support for turning animal shelters into no-kill shelters to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of pets. Education can also help dispel misconceptions and highlight the importance of adopting from shelters and advocating for no-kill shelters.

Identifying Best-Fit Corporate Partnership Opportunities

Corporate partnerships are a critical component of Best Friends Animal Society’s mission and goals, as partnerships offer valuable support for fundraising efforts, brand awareness, and community engagement.

Molly Trerotola: When it comes to actually selecting the partners you work with, how do you actually consider the criteria that you look for when partnering with companies? 

Candi Maciel: We are very careful with our brand, so we really look for partnerships with brands that have organic alignment with ours. We have very positive messaging and branding, so we like to work with brands that have the same. Ultimately we want to work with brands that really make sense for us.

Corporate partnerships can be highly advantageous for nonprofit organizations by providing nonprofits with access to valuable resources that they may not have had otherwise, such as financial support, in-kind donations, and even outside expertise. 

Collaborating with well-established businesses can also help nonprofits expand their reach and impact by connecting to a broader audience through strategic cause marketing campaigns. By leveraging a businesses’ marketing channels, nonprofits can raise awareness for their cause and achieve their goals more effectively.

Candi explains that when identifying corporate partnership opportunities, Best Friends Animal Society looks for partners who will not only help them amplify their mission, but who are also passionate about their cause and will support their mission on a deeper level.

“We need to work with brands and products that align with our values. We want a partner that really digs deep to support our mission and really helps us do the work that we're doing to save the lives of pets across the country.”

Examples of Successful Corporate-Nonprofit Partnerships

Collaborations between nonprofits and businesses create a mutually beneficial situation where corporations can fulfill their corporate social responsibility goals while nonprofits can further their mission and make a positive impact on society.

Candi shared some of her favorite examples of successful cause marketing corporate partnerships that Best Friends Animal Society has engaged in.

Molly Trerotola: Can you give me a couple examples of some successful partnerships you've run and ones where you have found a succinct alignment with?

Candi Maciel: Yeah, absolutely. First I think it'd be really easy for me to talk about brands and products in the pet space. We currently have a wonderful relationship and partnership with Whisker who owns Litter Robot. They're incredible partners and are very engaged with us. They made a sizable contribution in cash to Best Friends as well as an in-kind donation of Litter Robots to our sanctuary where we house hundreds of cats in southern Utah.

Candi shares that Litter Robot also created a special product bundle on their website that gives back to Best Friends Animal Society when someone purchases the bundle. 

Source: Litter Robot
“The partnership has been wildly successful. In fact, I think that it has absolutely outperformed even their initial expectations by 25 to 50%.”

Another corporate partnership example that Candi shared is one with Sonesta Hotels. What Candi loves most about this partnership is that their actions align with their words. They not only say that they are pet friendly, they truly treat people’s pets like family and even put together fun and engaging high-impact activities for hotel guests with pets. 

Additionally, Sonesta Hotels raises awareness for Best Friends Animal Society the work they do, and has provided funding and in-kind donations to Best Friends Animal Society.

How Nonprofits Can Overcome Common Challenges of Corporate Partnerships

Molly Trerotola: Sometimes there are massive challenges when it comes to aligning with brands and executing partnerships successfully. What major challenges has Best Friends faced in both finding and executing partnerships like these? 

Candi Maciel: I think we face two challenges regularly. The first is that animal welfare is not typically, or always an area that companies prioritize for philanthropic support. A lot of companies nowadays have very specific pillars that they wanna support and those tend to relate to what they as a company stand for. Animal welfare doesn't typically fall into those most popular pillar categories.

In addition to garnering support for a specific cause category, Candi discusses some other common challenges of corporate partnerships, and how Best Friends Animal Society actively overcomes them.

Measuring Success

Measuring the performance and impact of a corporate-nonprofit partnership is crucial to ensuring the partnership is successful for both parties. When forming a partnership, it’s best to outline goals and expectations of the partnership, and identify the ways that success will be measured and tracked right from the beginning.

Examples of cause marketing campaign success could be likes or shares on social media, new followers that are gained, products that are being purchased, email signups, or donations raised. 

“It's really important that we work with our partner to understand how they're going to measure success and to be really realistic about that. Our ROI and their ROI might be completely different, and we have to come together and say, ‘how are we together going to measure the success of this campaign and this partnership?’ Then what will we implement in the partnership to ensure that we're tracking along the way?”

Authentic Storytelling

One of the most important aspects of a successful corporate partnership is authenticity. However, it can be difficult for businesses to communicate their social impact efforts in a genuine way.

When a brand's values align with a nonprofit's mission and they convey this alignment through authentic storytelling, it creates a compelling narrative that consumers and donors can connect with on a deeper level. 

This emotional connection goes beyond marketing efforts and fosters a sense of loyalty and trust. As a result, consumers are more likely to support the partnership and it can encourage them to actively participate in the cause, such as through personal donations, volunteering, or raising awareness as an advocate. 

Advice for Nonprofits and Brands Looking for Form Corporate-Nonprofits Partnerships

With expertise in building and stewarding corporate giving relationships for Best Friends Animal Society, Candi shared her advice for nonprofits and businesses looking to form partnerships with each other.

Advice for Nonprofits

“We have a responsibility to do the work that we are promising that we will do as the nonprofit organization. And there's a lot of great companies out there that want to support charities. It's really important that you review the opportunity and you partner with a brand that makes sense for your charity—a brand that has a good reputation and a brand that's going to do the right thing with the partnership.”

Advice for Businesses

“Have those conversations about what a successful partnership looks like upfront. What is the goal for the partnership? How will success be measured? We want everyone to get what they want to get out of this, but I think it's also important to be flexible. Sometimes you think you may know exactly what you expect from this partnership, but you may be wildly surprised about something that you see come out of it that you didn't expect.”

Corporate-nonprofit partnerships are a great way for nonprofits to increase awareness for their mission and for businesses to maximize their charitable impact and engage their customers in a more meaningful way.

When approached with authenticity, mutual understanding, and a commitment to shared values, these partnerships can make a lasting impact for a worthy cause. Best Friends Animal Society's success stories and insights shared by Candi serve as valuable lessons for both nonprofits and brands looking to collaborate effectively in the cause marketing space.

We hope you enjoy this episode of The Impact Exchange, until next time...stay healthy, stay mindful, and create impact.

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