Effective charities do not just ask for corporate funding for their causes, but they attract it.
Every year corporate America gives more and more to charity – a total of more than $23 billion for nonprofit work, according to IEG. Corporations do not just respond to solicitations, however. They seek strategic partnerships with agencies that can improve their brand and image, ultimately helping them reach new markets and sell more of their product.
Here are 7 tips to help make those corporations look your way and invest in your cause.
Research First! Who Gets the Sponsors?
Smart nonprofits research their competition and identify who is receiving the most funding. Go to your competitors’ websites or get their annual reports and read their lists of sponsors. You might be surprised what corporations are interested in giving to causes like yours. You can form a base for your sponsorship target prospect list this way. You can also identify key aspects of the marketing and branding strategies used to attract those sponsors. If your cause is small, you might even consider partnering with the most attractive causes to piggyback off of their success.
Identify Your Cause Markets
Corporations want to align with the best brands in the market – the majority of their nonprofit spending (more than half) goes to “cause-related marketing.” More than half of the world now seeks products and services from companies that give back or are socially or environmentally responsible. Corporations as a result have much to gain from giving even a little to worthy causes that show social responsibility. What you need to do is identify which markets you fall in:
- Who (demographics) or what (ecosystems, art, animals, etc.) are you helping? Define your customers as finitely as possible, whether they are tigers in national zoos or single minority mothers in Chicago’s greater metropolitan area.
- What geographic area are you helping – local, national, or international?
Identify Your Impact
The best fundraising charities are the best at showing their impact – both statistically in numbers and emotionally in testimonials. How much are you helping – in numbers of people, of economic value, and other quantifiable indicators? And how does that work connect to people and communities – are you collecting the stories about how your work changes lives?
Actively Advertise Your Impact
You improve your brand – and attract corporate sponsors – if you actively advertise that impact. Corporations are looking for numbers. They want to connect to people in their target markets. You need to advertise readily within all markets you serve. You should have multiple media outlets (a website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, a blog, YouTube channel, a newsletter, etc.). You should also know how many people exactly are connecting to you through those outlets. Dedicate a portion of your budget or find a good volunteer to send out press releases, update your social media and tweet regularly (10 children had lunch today because of our project!), and make and post videos of your work in action.
Develop a Proposal of Benefits to the Corporation
Corporate donations are business transactions. So your proposal to them should be much different than a grant or an appeal letter to an individual. It should outline exactly what your impact is, what your market is, and how your work will directly improve their marketing strategies and help them attract more customers. Key tips from Entrepreneur online include:
- Tell a story first and grab the reader’s attention;
- Be very specific about the demographics you serve and that will be reached;
- Research the company specifically and connect to their goals; and
- Promise deliverables with economic outputs that connect to their bottom line.
Use Your Network
The easiest way to attract corporate sponsors is by leveraging relationships. Ask your board members and volunteers not only to connect you to their corporate contacts, but to reach out themselves. The more personal the ask is the more likely you are to get the donation.
Be Confident with a Business Attitude
When approaching corporations, you have to change your pitch from groveling and appreciative to hardline business sales. You have to be confident of the promotional value of your work – the commercial opportunities that it opens up for the sponsor. More so you have to relay that confidence – with an enthusiasm that aligning with your cause will make the corporation more successful, that partnering with you will open opportunity and generate profits.
If your work is helping your community in meaningful, impactful ways, and you are actively sharing that work to the community and have confidence in your value, you should easily be able to tap into corporate giving! Remember to research first, and leverage all the relationships you have to be the most efficient.