Katie Lord, Vice President
It’s once again that time of year when our corporate partners/prospects are beginning to look at budgeting and goal-setting for the next fiscal year. It’s also the time of year when we, as nonprofit fundraisers, should be setting up cultivation touch points with this donor segment. Notice I did not say “annual meetings with our corporate partners.” As with all of our donors, we should not only be meeting with them to make the “ask,” but to also “take the temperature of the relationship” to further grow the partnership.
According to the Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2016, Corporate Giving made up 5% or $18.55 billion of the $390.05 in total giving in the United States last year. While Corporate Giving is the smallest segment of the sources of giving, there has been an increase in Corporate Giving over the past several years: it is up 3.5% from last year alone. With Millennials emerging as the largest generation in the workforce, it is important to understand the continual emergence and changing attitudes of the corporate sector on social responsibility.
When approaching a corporate entity, be sure you’ve done your research. Learn as much as you can about the business, the products/services, who customers are, earnings, etc. This research can be done by looking at the company’s website, LinkedIn page, local business publications and a quick Google search. Most importantly, do not go into a meeting with your own pre-conceived notion of what the corporation would want or a “standard” offering or sponsorship menu for them to choose from. Each corporation or business, just like each individual, is unique – with its own identity, goals and needs.
With the continued evolution of the fundraising and business landscapes, one size no longer fits all when building corporate relationships and donor growth. There are now multiple ways that nonprofits can benefit from corporate philanthropy, including paid volunteer time for employees, matching gift programs, sponsorship dollars, peer to peer internal fundraising campaigns, cause marketing opportunities and corporate foundations just to name a few. Be sure to explore all of these possibilities and combinations with your prospective/current corporate partner to ensure the optimum outcome.
Be prepared for your meeting. Before your meeting, have thoughtful and tailored specific questions, be able to discuss what a charitable partnership looks like and how both parties can measure outcomes and success. Ask open-ended questions and then LISTEN to the answers. It is important to be able to articulate how a partnership can be mutually beneficial, by helping the business achieve its goals internally while simultaneously having an impact on your organization and the community externally.
If you are renewing a relationship, be able to illustrate the outcomes of your partnership or projected outcomes. Include numbers such as digital impressions, value of corporate volunteer time to the organization and what sponsorship dollars were able to achieve. Also share personal results, quotes from any employees about the impact the partnership had on them or stories of people who directly benefitted from the financial support the corporation provided the organization.
Corporate Giving is a vast resource in our nonprofit communities. Creativity is important and it is mandatory to think outside the proverbial box in order to meet the changing landscape of corporations, their employees and social responsibility. Gone are the days of offering corporations a set menu of charitable options. We, as nonprofit professionals, have to be able to entice corporations to build sustainable relationships with the positive outcomes of our partnership. We have to learn and grow with them by offering innovative ways to contribute to the nonprofit organizations in their communities with their donor dollars, the support of their employees and the positive impact of their contributions in time, talent and treasure.