5 tiers of a corporate relationship

Although a relationship between a corporation and a nonprofit might sound at first like the same thing anywhere, in any arrangement, that is not the case. In other words, such an arrangement can be cut to fit, rather than being pulled off the rack.

During the recent Association of Fundraising Professionals’ international conference, Dale Hedding of the Arts Consulting Group and Jennifer Schwartz of the University of Maryland offered the idea that a corporate relationship with a nonprofit can exist at any of five levels, or tiers, based on the degree of commitment in the partnership. It is also possible for a partnership to evolve over time. In ascending order, the five tiers are:

* Tier 5: Single point of engagement. The two entities are involved in a limited capacity.

* Tier 4: Managed relationship. This has few points of interest that require co-ordination.

* Tier 3: Tailored partnership. In this the parties work closely to identify value-added opportunities for a deeper relationship between them.

* Tier 2: Broad-based engagement. Both partners engage across multiple units or departments in a variety of ways, including participation by the corporation’s leadership.

* Tier 1: Strategic partner. This kind of relationship is long term, with significant and ongoing financial contributions. It also requires co-ordination with multiple offices.