Klean Kanteen

How Klean Kanteen makes the most of its nonprofit partnerships

Leverage your give-back commitment by positioning nonprofits you support as experts, brand ambassadors and true partners in business.

Caroleigh Pierce knows a thing or two about corporate giving. A former educator, Pierce has held the unique position of nonprofit outreach manager at Klean Kanteen, makers of stainless steel personal water bottles, for over four years.

At the inaugural 1% For The Planet "Give Back Gathering" held in Boulder, Colorado, earlier this month (hosted by 1908 Brands), Pierce took the stage to share how she builds smart, strategic relationships with environmental nonprofits that Klean Kanteen helps finance. Rather than just providing a check in the mail, Pierce is passionate about making nonprofits true partners to position Klean Kanteen as a conscious brand, and to further environmental stewardship. 

Employ these tips shared by Pierce at the "Give Back Gathering" to make your brand’s donation dollars do more.

Choose nonprofits that are doing work important to your brand

While Klean Kanteen partners with dozens of nonprofits, the company donates to organizations that fall within four pillars that reflect the ethos of the brand and its products: mitigating plastic pollution, supporting safe consumer products, conserving land and water and protecting wild places.

Engage your nonprofit partners

Avoid just being a financier by scheduling regular check-ins with the nonprofits your brand supports either quarterly or monthly. Such communication will keep your company up-to-date on nonprofit initiatives or new areas of focus. If possible, invite a representative to your office to present their research or work. 

Connecting your employees with the organizations you support will get them excited about working at your company. Trying organizing a paid volunteer day with your staff and a nonprofit to inspire.

Reference nonprofit partners as resources and experts

When launching a new product, line or redesign, call upon the organizations you support to offer input. What solutions are out there to reduce packaging waste? Are there any best sourcing practices when it comes to your product’s materials? Can a nonprofit provide an impact report, such as carbon emissions saved, by doing better business? It’s up to your brand to reach out.

If you have the resources, invite experts from nonprofits to participate in trade shows and client-facing presentations. For example, Klean Kanteen, allocated a footprint in its Expo West booth to members from The Five Gyres Institute to answer questions from retailers and explain why solutions to plastic bottle waste are important. 

If retailer end-caps are a part of your merchandising strategy, include information about the organizations you support.

Stand beside nonprofit partners in Washington, D.C.

Many organizations are working to incite change at a legislative level. When possible, sign letters of support, back petitions to politicians and focus social media marketing power to extend the reach of their initiatives. Use the bulk of your business to show your commitment to the cause. 

Play matchmaker between your nonprofit partners

Connect the organizations your support by sharing the experiences of partners with other partners. Facilitate collaboration through fundraising partnerships. "We like partners that play well together, and pool their resources," says Pierce. "It’s really the only way to get an outcome that they seek."

Say no … but yes

Even if your company cannot donate funds to nonprofits that reach out seeking financial support, help in other ways. Can you partner with them to do a social media giveaway? Can your marketing team write and promote a blog post about the organization? Can you offer discount codes or donate product? Remember that money isn’t the only way to help a worthy organization reach its goals.

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