Four tips that can help land cor­po­rate donations

Written by
Robert Bellovin
June 25, 2013

Corporate donations only make up a fraction of the funds nonprofits receive every year. In fact, they only accounted for five per cent of all the donations made in the US in 2011. However, landing corporate donors brings benefits that extend past monetary assistance. They generate publicity and exposure for your organisation’s cause and help ensure a steady flow of individual donations.

Professional fundraisers who are looking to secure corporate donations must do more than traditional fundraising. They must learn how to position their organisation’s mission to align with the corporation’s goal, their employees’ interests and the local community’s needs in order to successfully develop a long-lasting partnership.

If you are a fundraiser who wants to land corporate donations, here are four tips you can use to help develop a long-lasting partnership with a corporate donor:

1. Research the company’s mission

Companies are more likely to donate to campaigns that mesh with their brand.

Corporations are most likely to donate to causes that match their goals and mission, which is why you must do thorough research on the company’s donation history, future goals, past accomplishments and mentions in the news. For example, if a chemical manufacturer recently was responsible for a hazardous spill in a farming community, they might be more likely to contribute to farmer assistance programmes to help preserve their image with the public.

Researching a company’s donation history is equally as important. This tells you what types of organisations they have donated to in the past, how much they tend to give and whether the cause was local or national. The company’s history will help you determine if it is a good match for your cause and a candidate for a long-lasting partnership. To keep track of all this donation history, many fundraisers use fundraising computer programmes that help them organise this information and make sure future outreach efforts are well-executed.

2. Understand their employees’ interests

‘Employee focus’ is a buzz-worthy phrase among fundraisers.

In an effort to attract and retain high-quality talent, companies are increasingly taking into account their employees’ needs and interests when determining which nonprofit organisations to donate to. For example, if management notices that half of their employees volunteer at the local Humane Society shelter, they might be more inclined to donate to that cause.

The Home Depot Foundation, the philanthropic arm of The Home Depot, found out that more than 35,000 employees were veterans – so they decided to help renovate the homes of disabled and elderly military veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) halls.

‘Our associates taking on this mission has become very personal for them,’ says Joe Wimberly, southern division Field manager of The Home Depot Foundation. ‘We have seen a lot of great stories come from this and a lot of camaraderie has emerged around our associates in giving back.’

Habitat for Humanity St Louis recently partnered with such companies as Anheuser-Busch and Wells Fargo to help build homes for the needy. Kimberly McKinney, CEO of Habitat for Humanity St.Louis, points out that these kinds of projects are great team-building exercises. She went on to say that ‘having associates come out to a Habitat build means that they’re going to turn around and say “I framed that wall”, or “I hung those kitchen cabinets”.’ McKinney believes this adds a very tangible element to the volunteer project.

3. Identify the needs of the local community

Community is very important to both companies and their employees.

A recent study by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy found that between 2000 and 2011, 60 per cent of all charitable donations over $1 million went to organisations that were in the donor’s local community.

Local causes resonate better not only with the company’s employees, but with their local customers, as well. ‘Most companies are very community-focused and want to contribute, as do their employees,’ says Amanda Ponzar, communications director for United Way Worldwide. ‘It’s just about finding the right project or focus that maximises the company’s strength and interests.’

With this in mind, if you are a fundraiser with a local cause, look to strike up relationships with businesses in your area. If you are able to show that your organisation is making an impact in the local community, you will have a better shot at landing these corporate donors.

4. Shared goals can help form long-lasting partnerships

There’s hierarchy within corporations, but volunteering can increase employee interaction and cooperation across different departments.

Even though one-time donations from businesses are a wonderful thing, most nonprofits would prefer a long-lasting corporate partnership to help ensure a well-funded and successful campaign. To accomplish this goal, fundraisers need to be able to understand what a company wants to accomplish now, and what they have their sights on in the future.

For example, The United Way has developed a long-lasting partnership with Target to improve education. The United Way is dedicated to helping to reduce the number of drop-outs nationally and Target has already pledged to donate $1 billion to education programmes by 2015. By working together, these two organisations are helping one another accomplish their goals.

If your nonprofit is looking to secure a corporate donor to help ensure the success of a campaign, keep in mind that you must thoroughly research the mission and past history of the company, identify the needs of the local community and find shared goals to develop a long-lasting partnership.

Have you successfully landed corporate donations? Please tell us your story in the comments below.

Research for the original article was performed by Wes Eichenwald.

About the author: Robert Bellovin

Robert Bellovin is a Media Relations Coordinator at Software Advice.

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