Corporate fundraising is less and less about funds

In the eight years that I have been a fundraiser my role has become a lot more fun. But it has not become any easier. The number of cheques we receive with the message ‘go ahead and do something good with my donation’ continues to diminish; supporters increasingly want to become more involved in the spending of their donation – and rightly so.

Written by
Margot Ende - van den Broek
June 02, 2012
Alongside SOS Children’s Villages, corporate staff helped to train local football coaches and set up more football teams in South Africa.

Certainly this is very true for corporate fundraising. In many cases, companies expect their donation to provide a tailored solution that matches their brand and business objectives. A study that we undertook last year at SOS Children’s Villages Netherlands among our 16 multinational corporate supporters made it very clear that companies are being more proactive in using their knowledge and experience (their core competencies) to create a better world. Alongside this, they have a growing interest in using their donation to promote their business brand and to involve all of their employees.

There is no doubt that this can offer fundraisers excellent opportunities. But these trends also provide us with many challenges. The first is that we should no longer just act as fundraisers in the traditional sense; we need to be seen as a (potential) business partner – one that will share and complement the other’s interests. We should develop programmes together and share the costs and inevitable risks of any project. This partnership is about mutual benefit. Is that a phrase that comes to your mind when you think about your relationship with your corporate donors?

Another large challenge that you may face is the way that a fundraiser’s success is primarily judged on reaching financial targets. Whether this pressure is imposed by your organisation or by yourself, these new types of corporate partnerships can be a slow process and are perhaps not the quickest route to new funds which can be a problem for some organisations.

And, of course, I haven’t even begun to touch upon the internal discussions that these corporate partnerships can provoke within your organisation as to how much influence fundraisers should have on service programmes for your cause. Not to mention the challenge of how a corporate partner can be involved with and influence those programmes.

But despite these inevitable challenges, it is possible to start and maintain a successful corporate relationship that will mutually benefit your organisation and the company. A successful example is the SOS Children’s Villages’ partnership with KNVB (Royal Dutch Football Association) on the project World Coaches South Africa. Alongside SOS Children’s Villages, staff from KNVB trained local football coaches and set up local football teams in South Africa. This enabled SOS Children’s Villages to integrate more men and boys into our family strengthening programmes. KNVB was able to use its core competencies (its knowledge of football) to strengthen and work in partnership with the mission of SOS Children’s Villages. It was a win-win for both partners.

I firmly believe that the future of corporate fundraising lies in real partnerships between charities and companies. Despite the challenges, by working together to mutual benefit we will be able to achieve economic development and a fairer world for all.

This article was originally published in 101 Fundraising in February 2011.

About the author: Margot Ende - van den Broek

Margot Ende - van den Broek

Margot Ende - van den Broek is managing director of SOS Children’s Villages (SOS Kinderdorpen) and is responsible for all of their fundraising. She began at SOS in 2002 and previously worked in marketing for a bank and as a CRM manager for an online company.

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