Plug Into Corporate Giving

Are you looking for effective ways to connect with businesses for fundraising?

Today’s business climate is putting an additional set of pressures on corporations, which creates a unique set of opportunities for your nonprofit.

Approaching corporations for fundraising purposes is very different from approaching individuals. The motivations are not the same, so the approach, the process and the follow-up all need to be tailored to this unique environment.

For individuals, the main motivation for giving is impact—people are investing their own money to make a positive change in their community. So your strategy is geared toward partnering with them to maximize their impact. In prospecting, you research the individual’s giving history and find people who can make an introduction. You ask them about their giving goals and explain how your organization can help them be a positive force for change. You follow up with the specifics of the change you’ve made possible together, share stories of impact and deliver messages of thanks from your constituents and your board.

For corporations, while you’ll still be talking to individuals, they are actually representatives of a company. They invest the company’s money and that money needs to further the company’s goals. Traditionally the purpose of corporations was to generate a profit. Now companies are being urged to also steward the planet and take good care of their employees. This is where you come in.

In considering corporate giving, the idea to remember is resonance. Which companies in your community have an alignment with your mission? Which companies are looking to build their reputation in the areas you serve?

Companies do sometimes give for philanthropic reasons. But they also give based on other motivations:

  • Strategic goals: to increase employee loyalty, attract talent and perhaps improve local infrastructure support.
  • Commercial goals: to increase sales, improve brand recognition and attract new customers.
  • Political goals: to increase public goodwill or to build their reputation as a good corporate citizen.
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It’s important to understand the goals of a particular company, so you know how best to approach them. Are they interested in promoting their brand? You’ll want to talk to the marketing department or the business development office and focus on sponsorships, point of purchase campaigns and/or product placement opportunities. Are they concerned about their people? You’ll want to talk with the human resources or corporate social responsibility staff and focus on volunteer opportunities and community outreach.

Once you’re in the door, your goal is to build a partnership. Ask about the company’s specific goals and explore ways your organization can help meet those goals. Maybe the professional you are talking to is concerned about meeting his own deliverables (increased sales, attracting better talent, etc.). How can you help this individual be successful in his job? Who is the company’s target audience? What are their customers looking for?

With this information, you can create a customized proposal for that company: perhaps a sponsorship with naming opportunities and advertising value, or a volunteer program to engage their employees. Present the business case for partnering with your organization: how will working with you help them move forward in their own objectives?

As with any donor, follow-up is important. For corporations, this means outlining how you’ve helped the company make progress towards its goals. Depending on the specifics of your customized proposal, such data could include website traffic, email open rates, media hits, volunteer hours, etc. Perhaps you have stories of improved employee morale, gleaned from your interaction with volunteers from the company. Demonstrate how you’ve helped the company meet its goals.

What is your experience approaching corporations for fundraising? What have you found that works? Are there things you wish you’d known before you talked with a company representative? We’d love to hear from you. Share your stories in the comments below.

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