The Partnership Prize: Moving and Inspirational

December 6, 2014

Once in a while you are privileged to be involved in event that is both meaningful and inspirational. Such was the unique Partnership Prize award ceremony on November 21, held at the Marin Country Club in Novato, California. For many years I have dreamed of holding this program, and in partnership with NorthBay biz magazine, we unveiled the first Partnership Prize to room packed full of senior executives from the nonprofit, for-profit, education and government sectors in Northern California.


I created the Partnership Prize to recognize and reward exemplary cross-sector and intra-sector partnerships focused on the greater good. And importantly, to have this competition, and especially the winning partnerships, stimulate new partnerships and provide excellent role models for other organizations to realize the economic and social impact that can come through well-designed, well-executed cross-sector and intra-sector partnerships.

A few quotes we received following the event:

“The announcements of the spectacular (no other word) organizations, companies, government, educational partnerships has me hopeful for our country and our citizens. Today was inspirational in so many facets.” Sherri Lewis Wood, Founder, One Warm Coat

“Congratulations and a huge bouquet of thanks to Bruce and NorthBay Biz, for the incredible Partnership Awards meeting and awards ceremony. I felt so privileged to be in the same room with so many amazing people whose business and social partnerships were represented. Congratulations to all the winners.” Susan L. Miller, Sponsor Development Manager, Kid Scoop News

“It was not only amazing to hear what had been accomplished and is being accomplished, but it was also moving and inspirational.” Gerri Alaniz, Alaniz Marketing

The inaugural Partnership Prize presented awards in eight categories of cross-sector partnerships (partnerships between nonprofit, for-profit, education or government sectors) and intra-sector partnerships (nonprofits working with nonprofits.)

The 2014 Partnership Prize winners are:

Cross-sector partnership with more than 50 employees:
Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition
Family Justice Center Sonoma County

Cross-sector partnership with less than 50 employees:
Kid Scoop News and Sonoma Raceway
Bellam Self-Storage and the San Rafael Clean Campaign

Grand prize for the most exemplary cross-sector partnership:
SchoolsRule Marin

Nonprofit with nonprofit partnership:
Warm Wishes and MarinLink
The Gasser Foundation and Sustainable Napa County

Grand Prize for the most exemplary nonprofit with nonprofit partnership:
Homeward Bound and Whistlestop

The 2014 Partnership Prize called for nominations from Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties in Northern California. The competition was both fierce and exceptional. I and all involved were overwhelmed by the caliber of the nominated partnerships and the extraordinary good being done in our communities.

Congratulations to our winners! And let’s keep this warm spirit of partnership alive and well into 2015 as we work together for the greater good.

The Partnership Prize Launches in San Francisco’s North Bay, Call for Nominations

October 17, 2014

hands only

We are very pleased to announce the “Call for Nominations” for the first-of-its-kind Partnership Prize. The Partnership Prize will recognize and reward exemplary partnerships which have been developed in the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, including Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties. The Partnership Prize is designed to stimulate future partnerships through the networking of nonprofit and for-profit organizations.

Cross-sector partnerships are partnerships between two or more partners from the for-profit, nonprofit, education or government sectors which benefit the business or mission objectives of the individual partners while collectively focusing on creating a greater good. To be considered, these partnerships must not be purely philanthropic, such as solely giving or receiving financial support. Exemplary partnerships are those which have created multiple linkages, activities and relationships between the partners, preferably over an extended period of time, and which have demonstrated measurable economic, social or environmental value.

We will be providing eight awards*:

1) The Grand Prize: The most exemplary cross-sector partnership in the North Bay (1)
2) Cross-sector partnerships between organizations over 50 employees (three prizes, one each in Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties)
3) Cross-sector partnerships between organizations under 50 employees (three prizes, one each in Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties)
4) Nonprofit with Nonprofit organizations of any size (1)
*These are not monetary awards. Award plaques will be given and there will be extensive promotion of the winners through NorthBay biz magazine and other media and promotional outlets.

Here is the link to the nomination form. The deadline for nominations is Oct. 29.

The Partnership Prize awards ceremony will be part of the second annual Glowing Your Business partnership workshop on Friday, November 21st. Here is the link to the Glowing Your Business workshop information:

While the first Partnership Prize is focused on Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties of California, we envision this important program to be greatly expanded in the future.

For further information, please contact me directly at or 415-454-0839

Thank you.

Bruce Burtch

Special Discount Opportunity for Win-Win for the Greater Good

September 2, 2014

Now also available on Kindle

Final Cover for web

I am thrilled with the exceptional testimonials and reviews for Win-Win for the Greater Good, the most comprehensive “how-to” guidebook on the development of cross-sector partnerships – partnerships between the nonprofit, for-profit, education and government sectors.

Called a “must-read for any organization” by Howard Behar, President (retired) Starbucks Coffee, Win-Win provides a proven-effective 12-step process based on over 35 years of partnership development on the local, regional and national levels.

To receive a 20% discount ($4) off the $19.95 retail price of the book, visit and in the checkout process put the following code in the box: JHHVKMHW.

Casey Sheehan, CEO, Patagonia stated, “Win-Win for the Greater Good provides the how-to blueprint for organizations of any size any sector to build highly productive partnerships. It reveals the true essence of success-focusing on the business objectives of your partner, while striving together to create a greater good.”

Peggy Duvette, former Executive Director of WiserEarth
said, “Worth its weight in fundraising goal. Win-Win for the Greater Good turns the tables on traditional approaches to nonprofit/for-profit funding relationships. It challenges you to build a business value proposition and provides 30 ways to beneficially impact your organization through partnerships, while greatly increasing your service impact.”

“Win-Win, lucidly captures Bruce Burtch’s decades of practitioner wisdom on cross-sector partnerships. The book is filled with rich examples and insightful practical guidance on how to build powerful partnerships. Read it and learn from a master!” James E. Austin, Professor Emeritus, Harvard Business School.

The Critical Importance of Alignment

July 30, 2014

Part 19 from the Win-Win for the Greater Good series

Yesterday I gave a webinar which emphasized the importance of developing the best alignment between partnering organizations. Of all the positive feedback, this one made my day.

“OMGoodness! Thank YOU! The best hour I have spent online in years. Incredibly relevant and helpful.”
Tammy Flynn, Director of Philanthropy
Peninsula Community Foundation of Virginia

OK, so I’m bragging a bit but the timing couldn’t be better, because the next installment in the Win-Win for the Greater Good series is about the critical importance of alignment.

Before we start off on our exploration for partners, there is a critical concept – alignment- that must be well understood. The correct alignment between your organization and a potential partner is of paramount importance and must be the filter through which all of your discussions, meetings and decisions are viewed. By alignment I mean that when put side by side, your brand aligns with their brand and your values with their values so that this partnership is intellectually, emotionally and practically compatible. It must make sense to the partners and especially to the public. This critical need for the proper partnership alignment is also referred to as “brand fit.”

As we saw in what I feel was the stunningly poor example of brand fit between Kentucky Fried Chicken and Susan G. Komen in the “Buckets for the Cure” campaign, the wrong product or service alignment can be disastrous for a cross-sector partnership or cause marketing campaign, and more importantly, to an organization’s reputation.

In your Assessment Process, you looked at your brand, what your organization stands for and the reputation of your company in the marketplace. This is the starting point of your alignment process. Appropriate brand fit is fairly obvious. If you are a grocery store, for example, an appropriate brand alignment would be to work with your local food bank or a homeless shelter. If you are a construction or hardware supply company, Habitat for Humanity or Rebuilding Together would provide outstanding alignment because your business expertise, employee talents and your knowledge of construction materials are needed in the building or remodeling of homes.

This alignment creates a natural flow when integrating the mission and cause of your partners into your own organization’s culture. It just makes sense – to you, to your organization, to your partners, to the public – to all you wish to attract to the cause.

Barefoot Wines

A perfect example of excellent brand fit or alignment is the partnership between Barefoot Wine and the Surfrider Foundation, whose mission is the protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches. Together they created the Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue Project to help keep America’s beaches “barefoot friendly.” The partnership hosted beach cleanups and restoration events coast-to-coast, utilizing volunteers to clean the shorelines, plant native greenery and collect litter along the beaches. At the end of each event, volunteers enjoyed Barefoot Wine and surf-inspired food. Aligning a brand like Barefoot Wine with the surfing-originated and water-focused Surfrider Foundation is an example of excellent alignment. Even the events themselves emphasized this barefoot-friendly fit.

The campaign won the Cause Marketing Forum’s 2012 “Halo Award” for Best Environmental or Animal Campaign. And while the campaign and both organizations are national in scope, this type of cause-related campaign could just as well have been orchestrated with any community park, beach or swimming pool partnering with local businesses related to water sports. It’s about finding the right idea and the right brand fit.

Please visit for more information about cross-sector partnerships and Win-Win for the Greater Good.

Cause marketing can boost your brand perception, but cross-sector partnerships can elevate your business

July 15, 2014

Article in Marketing News, American Marketing Association, July 15, 2014


Key Takeaways

• Cause marketing is a tactic in which a for-profit company and a nonprofit organization form a partnership to boost sales, donations and brand awareness.

• Outdoor gear retailer Patagonia has partnered with a number of nonprofits to ensure corporate giving is a key part of its overall marketing strategy.

• Success comes through a step-by-step approach, leveraging what you already have with the right partners in a combined effort to create a greater good.

Read the full article:

Cause marketing—the partnership of a for-profit company and a nonprofit organization intended to increase sales, donations and brand awareness—has proven to be a highly successful marketing tactic for companies such as General Mills, Pepsi, and Procter & Gamble, to name just a few, but it’s starting to wear a little thin with consumers. When every can of soup or box of cereal is printed with a “Box Tops for Education” logo, the effect becomes progressively diluted.

But cause marketing is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. There’s a much larger opportunity for altruistic and philanthropic brand alignments with cross-sector partnerships in which multiple linkages are developed between nonprofit and for-profit organizations. The for-profit organization may provide the nonprofit with volunteers, in-kind donations, paid advisers with specialized skills, event sponsorships, board members, knowledge and best practices, office space and more. The nonprofit organization, meanwhile, may provide volunteer opportunities to enhance the for-profit employees’ job satisfaction and a deeper understanding of the needs of those employees’ community, as well as coaching and leadership experience, tax-deductible donation opportunities and much more.


Two prestigious national publications just published Do Well by Doing Good

April 22, 2014

Great News!! Both the National Association of Women Business Owners and Bizwomen, the national online magazine of the national Business Journals published my article, Do Well by Doing Good.

Check it out:

Please pass this along to your friends and colleagues.

Together in partnership,


How to make your organization go from good to great to absolutely glowing!!

February 18, 2014

Part 5
smaller Good to great to Glowing B&W

No matter what kind of work you do, you are in business. Whether you are a sole consultant, run a small hardware store, or are the CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation, you are in business. You may be Executive Director or run fund development for a nonprofit organization, teach in your local elementary school or work in an agency of state government, whatever the case, you are in business. A business can be defined as an occupation, profession, calling, vocation or employment. In other words, if you are in any sector of for-profit, nonprofit, education or government, you are in business. So the vast majority of what you find in this book will relate to your work in any sector.

However, when I talk about this desired transformation of “glowing your business,” I’m referring to the for-profit sector. The basic premise of this book is that a for-profit organization can only glow when it has joined hand-in-hand in partnership with one or more from the nonprofit, education or government sectors to create a greater good.

This brings us to what I feel is the next step in the evolution, and potentially revolution, of business: going from a good company to a great company to a glowing company. You become a glowing company when you have purposefully embedded a “cause consciousness” into the very fabric of your organizational culture. By cause consciousness I mean your organization meaningfully and systemically:

• Commits to being a pro-active, socially-focused, caring company
• Creates partnerships with other sectors and aids their mission in service to people or environmental issues in need
• Makes all business decisions based on doing good, not just on making money
• Engages all your stakeholders, internally and externally, in this cause consciousness culture
• Commits to a future where your organization’s success is in direct relationship to the benefit you provide for others

When you do this, when you and all involved with your organization practice this cultural shift, people will take notice. Cause consciousness will affect your employees, and they will like working for your company. They will talk to others about the good things your company is doing and how they themselves are participating in these good efforts. And this will raise their morale and their job satisfaction, and they will stay longer with your company. Your customers and all business relations will notice this change and this will increase your sales, your brand recognition and your customer loyalty. You will start to favorably stand out against your competition. The media will be attracted to your company and provide press coverage on what you are doing to benefit your community. Your community will start talking about your organization, your people and your importance to the community. And because of all this, your organization will begin to grow, you will start to make more money… and you will begin to glow.

You will know when you are beginning to glow because this glow, this radiance, becomes apparent in everything you do – in every interpersonal and organizational conversation. Even your products and services will seem to glow because they are designed and delivered by people dedicated to doing good. And because of this, you will enjoy an amazing business advantage – for you will have become a fully functioning, fully effective organization. And everybody will notice, because you are glowing!

Please visit for more information

Understanding the new normal in nonprofit/for-profit relationships

February 10, 2014

Part 3

It is abundantly clear that we live in a challenging time. In 2011 the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that the nation’s largest charities saw a decline of 11% in donations, greater than any in the past 20 years. And while some indications show that nonprofit funding is turning around, according to “Giving USA,” charitable giving grew less than one percent in 2012. Thousands of smaller nonprofit organizations are at high risk of closing down. This sad situation comes at a time when there is increasing demand for the social services these organizations provide.

The social support system is in trouble and those people it supports have nowhere to turn. Anne Wilson, CEO of the United Way of the San Francisco Bay Area, warned “the recession has severely compromised our community’s safety net.” As a moral public, we cannot let this safety net fail.

However, individual, corporate and foundation funders impacted by the decline of their income, sales or investment portfolios cannot, in many cases, maintain their past support levels when there is so much need. Tough decisions must be made – who to support and at what level. The desire to help must be tempered by financial reality.

The situation is serious and for many, this is entirely new territory. The time has passed for believing we can operate as we always have under “normal” circumstances because “normal” doesn’t exist anymore. The answers do not come from staying the course. The answers come in the realization that to weather this storm, the nonprofit, for-profit, education and government sectors must find new approaches, proven techniques and new economic streams that will work, even in these challenging times.

The organizations that will lead the new normal are the ones that realize they need not and should not take on these challenges alone. As in the soccer ball story, there are astonishing opportunities for organizations that collaborate, indeed partner, with organizations in other sectors. These organizations will lead their industry and their community in doing good. These are the organizations and people who will attract the most publicity, drive new sales or donations, increase their brand recognition and create the greatest goodwill.

The management of these more enlightened organizations are not afraid to share and not afraid to partner with other sectors. They’re not the ones who work in silos, treasuring their own personal power rather than the much greater power of the collective body. They will stand firm against those afraid of this new collaborative thinking. The irony is that the leaders and organizations who want to stay the course may lose market share and profitability, may demoralize employees and all stakeholders by their myopic focus on their organization and their bottom-line.

This is not a time for business as usual. Now is the time to take full advantage of multi-benefit cross-sector partnerships focused on the greater good. This is the new normal and it’s win-win.

Please visit for more information.

My Holiday Gift to You: Win-Win for the Greater Good

December 26, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Beginning the first week of January, I will be publishing a series of blogs taken from my new book Win-Win for the Greater Good. Launched to exceptional reviews and testimonials, Win-Win is the most comprehensive “how-to” guidebook on the development of cross-sector partnerships-partnerships between the nonprofit, for-profit, education and government sectors. In this series you will discover:

• How a for-profit organization can go from good to great to glowing.
• How to embed a “cause consciousness” into your organization
• How to raise revenue, funding, brand awareness, community goodwill and much more through partnerships
• How to stimulate employee satisfaction and retention

Most importantly, you will discover over 60 benefits that can be received by partners when working together for the greater good.

My New Year’s wish is that 2014 will be the year that we join together and form partnerships that will change our lives, our organizations, improve our communities and benefit those in need in our world.

“Win-Win for the Greater Good provides the ‘how to’ blueprint for organizations of any size and from any sector to build highly productive partnerships. It reveals the true essence of success – focusing on the business objectives of your partner, while striving together to create a greater good.”
Casey Sheahan, CEO, Patagonia, Inc.

“Win-Win lucidly captures Bruce Burtch’s decades of practitioner wisdom on cross-sector partnerships. The book is filled with rich examples and insightful practical guidance on how to build powerful partnerships. Read it and learn from a master!”
James E. Austin, Eliot I. Snider and Family Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, Harvard Business School
Author, The Collaboration Challenge

“A “must read” for any organization. Through real stories and his deep experience, Bruce Burtch proves that magic can happen when a partnership is focused on creating a greater good.”
Howard Behar, President, Starbucks Coffee International, Retired

Worth its weight in fundraising gold. Win-Win for the Greater Good turns the tables on traditional approaches to nonprofit/for-profit funding relationships. It challenges you to build a business value proposition and provides over 60 ways to beneficially impact your organization through partnerships, while greatly increasing your service impact.
Peggy Duvette, Executive Director, WiserEarth

Interview with Mary Beth McMahon, CEO, Special Olympics of Massachusetts

August 1, 2013

small mary beth

Profiles in Partnership

A series on best practices and sound advice for developing and maintaining successful partnerships between nonprofit and for-profit organizations. I am re-publishing some of the very best interviews from this series.

When I first interviewed Mary Beth McMahon she was Executive Vice President, Special Olympics, Northern California and Nevada. Congratulations are in order as Mary Beth is now CEO, Special Olympics of Massachusetts.

Part 5, Final In Series

BB: What benefit does participation in your program give to the corporate volunteers or any volunteer for that matter?

MBM: I think it’s a better perspective on life. When you meet our athletes, they don’t have a lot of inhibitions, they’re just happy to be there and they’re just happy that you are there with them. I think it’s just a good look at community and humanity. They say to themselves: I had a good day today and the stuff that’s bogging me down at work shouldn’t probably bog me down as much. That’s the feedback we get. Especially first-time volunteers, they are always saying: This is not what I expected… it’s a better opportunity. There’s such a misconception of what to see out there and so when they finally go and see it, they realize these are very nice human beings that you’re doing something good for. Most people say to me: I got more out of today then I think I gave. So the more people can spread the word through a company and say, I was at a basketball event today for Special Olympics and it was the best thing I’ve ever been to…that will help us change the perception that we’re not a 1-day track meet.

BB: There would seem to be opportunities where they could learn within the Special Olympics environment, job skills that could be brought back to their work life.

MBM: Oh, definitely, we rely so heavily on volunteers. We have a board and we have an advisory board in all of our metropolitan areas that we’re looking for people to come on and help with the strategic direction of a specific metropolitan area. We also have what we call games management teams where you come in and you take on a project and you run our summer games. We also have volunteer leadership committees that come in and help run a program in a specific area. We actually would not exist without leadership volunteers.

We serve 17,500 athletes with 30 staff members across the geographic territory of Northern California and Nevada. We have over 10,000 volunteers that we rely on day in and day out to do the program that we do. I started as an area director which is kind of our local program coordinator, I was doing budgets, fundraising, I was selling, I was doing things that were so out of my comfort zone, but being trained and taught through my involvement with Special Olympics, as a volunteer.

BB: What advice would you offer to other nonprofit organizations about the benefits of working with a nonprofit organization?

MBM: One of the challenges we have as nonprofits is we’re all going after the same dollar. So there’re things that we could work together. A great example is our Safeway relationship, and we work with Easter Seals to make that happen. We service the same client base; we serve them in different manners. Easter Seals is a youth organization, cradle to grave organization, some of the Easter Seals athletes are our Special Olympics athletes, so we’re alike in that manner and so together we’re a better message of inclusion. I think there are a lot of similar organizations out there that you can serve and broaden your tentacles into the community and I think that’s important. In this day and age it’s better to work together than work apart.

BB: What would you say to for-profit organizations that are putting their toe in the water to get involved with a nonprofit?

MBM: Any partnership is going to bring a myriad of things to you; whether it’s employee morale issues, getting employees out, getting your brand out with another well-known brand. But I think most importantly, it is a way to achieve a lot of good in what we do and the most successful partnerships between nonprofits and profits are going to be the ones that have open minds of communication and understand each other’s business. Or if they don’t understand, at least help and understand, figure it out. That’s probably the key. A lot of for-profits still look at nonprofits as charities and I think they need to look at them as business partners. Because we’re not charities, we’re businesses who just are nonprofit and I think if there was a lot more thought process on that aspect, there would be a lot more public/nonprofit partnerships.

For more information on developing highly successful partnerships please visit: