A corporate partner is a for-profit business that collaborates with a nonprofit organization for their mutual benefit. Typically, the partnership involves some type of promotion and usually a donation of finances, commodities or services. Traditionally, this has been done through a variety of ways including cause marketing, where the non-profit gets visibility and funds in exchange for the company’s name being associated with an event or philanthropic effort; event sponsorship, where the company helps to fund an event in exchange for brand exposure and customer loyalty; and volunteering programs, where the company provides volunteers to help with a charitable endeavor.

The best partnerships are mutually beneficial and based on shared values, rather than just about raising money or increasing brand exposure. It takes time and energy to build a positive relationship, but the payoff is often worth it.

Choosing between a partnership and corporation is an important decision that will affect taxes, liability, access to capital and management structure. If you are unsure about what business structure to choose, consult an experienced business attorney.

A partnership may be required to obtain a state business license and a fictitious business name permit (if using one). A corporation requires articles of incorporation, corporate bylaws, stock certificates and shareholder agreements. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages. A partnership can provide tax benefits, while a corporation offers limited liability protection for the shareholders. Both structures are subject to regular board meetings, record maintenance and annual reports.