More or Better Corporate Partnerships? How National Park Foundation Addressed a "Good Problem" [SPONSORED]

Heading into the new year, Stefanie Mathew, Vice President of Corporate Partnerships at the National Park Foundation (NPF), knew the nonprofit had a strong wind at its back.

  • NPF was coming off the 2016 centennial celebration of the founding of the National Park Service and there was plenty of business interest in preserving national parks and programs and connecting people to them.
  • NPF has dozens of corporate partners supporting the nonprofit with gifts ranging anywhere from a few thousand dollars into the millions.
  • NPF is proud to call some of the biggest brands in the world, like American Express, Budweiser, Coca-Cola, Coleman, Disney, Humana, REI, and Subaru, partners of Find Your Park/Encuentra Tu Parque, a bilingual movement created by NPF to inspire people to connect with, celebrate, and support America’s national parks and community-based programs.
  • NPF even has its share of “trendy” partnerships. Gig economy darling Airbnb partnered with NPF to dedicate a series of pages on its website to finding accommodations near national parks and Google had just brought a special “coding with cocoa” station to President’s Park during the National Christmas Tree celebrations through their Made with Code girls empowerment initiative.
Stefanie Mathew, National Park Foundation

Stefanie Mathew, National Park Foundation

As the official charity of America’s national parks, NPF is a top performer in corporate partnerships, and others have taken notice. With outdoor retailer REI, NPF was awarded the 2017 Golden Halo Award in the best environmental campaign category at the Engage for Good Conference in June. And NPF was a finalist for best corporate brand by the Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association.

But Stefanie knew that NPF could do better.

“Our challenge was twofold,” explained Stefanie. “We were so busy executing on existing partnerships, we didn’t have a lot of time to find new ones that provide the right strategic fit both with NPF and our federal agency partner, the National Park Service. Plus, we were always busy fielding incoming calls from businesses that wanted to work with us. It’s a good problem to have, believe me. But it was a lot of work qualifying these companies”

“Partnering with Catalist made this whole process easier,” said Stefanie.

First, Catalist sifted the gold from the sand and identified quality leads based on NPF’s growing program and profile as the charitable partner of the National Park Service. Catalist’s matchmaking service found the best companies for NPF, with a focus on open and relatively untouched categories. “They totally removed the guesswork,” said Stefanie.

Second, promising businesses that contacted NPF about partnering were immediately passed along to Catalist where they were researched, screened and rated for partnership potential.

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“Catalist has given the team confidence that the companies we’re targeting are the right companies,” said Stefanie. “They’ve also made it easier for us to explain to NPF’s senior leadership what we’re working on and why.”

Stefanie knew that partnering with Catalist would lead to plenty of insights and intelligence about businesses. What she didn’t expect was to learn so much more about her organization’s supporters.

NPF regularly communicates with over a million supporters via email. “Catalist analyzed this audience and came up with several surprising and valuable insights,” said Stefanie. “This intelligence helped us to identify new business prospects and to deliver pitches that really resonated with decision makers.”

One immediate impact was NPF’s decision to expand and deepen its conversations with retailers.

“When we saw what Catalist had uncovered about our supporters, we knew we had something that retailers needed to hear,” said Stefanie.

Having paddled down her share of rivers in America’s national parks, Stefanie said that Catalist helped NPF’s corporate partnership team find its stroke.

“We’re heading in the right direction and at full speed,” said Stefanie. “This year marks the beginning of the next century for parks. And we’re ready for it.”

Key Takeaways

  • All nonprofits struggle to identify and qualify top business prospects. Catalist’s matchmaking service can sharpen your nonprofit’s focus on the right companies that align with your brand.
  • For nonprofits that frequently field inbound partnership calls from companies, Catalist can help separate the gold from the sand and pick the best opportunities to act on.
  • Catalist’s technology can uncover insights about your supporters that can open new areas of opportunity and/or deepen a drive into a particular sector, like retail.  

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This post is sponsored by Catalist. Catalist uses smart technology, insightful data and industry expertise to match companies with causes in partnerships that accelerate social change. Learn more about Catalist here.