The conversation was simple.

University alumni relations director: “I need to get our alumni interested in something other than football.”

University hospital marketing director: “I need to get those alums talking about our medical center!”

A partnership was born.

The result was a creative, strategic relationship that advanced the goals of two organizations. It was more than money changing hands. It was more than an ad in the alumni magazine. It was more than a speaker appearing at a single event. It was more than a table at a gala dinner.

It was engagement.

The medical center gained the attention of a key audience – university alumni – in several ways. Full-page medical center ads and a medical center article appeared in each issue of the quarterly alumni magazine. At the same time, the alumni association’s annual women’s conference added a “Hot Topics in Health” panel featuring medical center physicians.

As in many relationships, those seeking to engage in organizational partnerships should consider their own needs as well as the needs of the potential partner. Where can synergy be created?

When the USC hospitals partnered with the Los Angeles Dodgers, it was a platform for a relatively new brand to partner with an iconic brand. The three-year partnership generated revenue for the baseball organization while giving visibility and engagement opportunities to the hospitals. These included baseball tickets for employees, hospitality boxes to entertain donors, stadium signage, promotional videos shown in-stadium, and first pitch experiences for patients.

Among the hospital ads published in the baseball program was one that promoted breast cancer awareness. The ad aligned a cancer hospital message with a baseball player wearing a pink wristband, creating synergy for the two brands that Dodgers fans weren’t expecting.

Non-profit organizations might offer their corporate partners a menu of

volunteer opportunities or trainings for their employees. For example, the American Red Cross offers first aid, CPR and disaster preparedness trainings to employee groups seeking such classes as engagement opportunities.

Visibility at a charity’s gala dinner may be important among corporate executives. At the same time, volunteer work can be an important means of engaging the corporation’s employees with their co-workers and a meaningful cause.

Understanding a prospective partner’s goals is key to forging an effective relationship. If your organization is looking to maximize the impact of your marketing or sponsorship dollars or if your organization is looking for a partner/sponsor, The Activ Consulting Group can help you think through the possibilities.