Nonprofits should develop good relationships with everybody. This includes local small businesses.
Nonprofits should not want money from small businesses or even volunteers. These wants put stress on these businesses who are already stressed out enough for being small. Instead, be helpful by providing resources the businesses can use such as trained workers (giving people a chance to recover).
Mostly, invite feedback from small businesses. While the ego is happier with positive responses, be more open to negative feedback.
Nothing builds relationships more than solving problems caused by the nonprofit, who may be unaware of the problem. As an example, a soup kitchen offered take-out with the leftovers. After leaving the soup kitchen, wherever people finished eating they dumped the styrofoam containers and littered the area.
The executive director reached out to local businesses and discovered other people had to pick up the containers. The soup kitchen instead packaged the leftovers for facilities with more responsible people. The politicians, who heard the complaints, were more favorable to the soup kitchen and nonprofit after this solution.
Politicians pay more attention to businesses than nonprofits. Prospective donors respond to nonprofits who help small businesses. Small businesses are “It.”
When talking to local small businesses, do not go to a Chamber of Commerce. Go directly to the business. This takes more time, but the benefit is gargantuan. Good relationships help nonprofits in many ways and a good relationship with small businesses has the potential for great benefits.
Even though these benefits may not be noticed right away, the positive outlook from businesses will be noticed by the local government and community. In the long term, nonprofits will benefit.