What is corporate support?
In general, when a charity, non-profit organisation or social enterprise refers to “corporate support” they are talking about support from a business. This support can come in many different forms including financial donations, support in-kind and sponsorship.
Things to consider before doing anything…
As with all areas of fundraising, planning is crucial to ensure your time and resources are used as effectively and efficiently as possible. Some things to consider before approaching potential businesses for support:
- What support do you need?
- What can you offer in return? And for what level of support?
- Do you have the resources to manage the relationship?
- Are your website and social media up-to-date?
- Is there anyone you won’t accept support from? It’s good to be clear on this from the beginning. For example, for some organisations it wouldn’t be appropriate to work with alcohol brands but for others they may be a good fit.
Who to approach? Brainstorming and research…
- Start with who you know (and by “you” we don’t just mean you as an individual but your team and board)
- What companies are already supporting organisations similar to yours?
- What brands do you align with? For example, think about what your organisation does. Who do you work with/support? What area do you work in? What location? Then start to think of brands that fit within those areas.
- What do you spend money on that companies may consider donating for free?
Make sure to keep a record of your research, including companies you decided not to approach and why, to avoid duplicating research in the future.
- Website: Before contacting anyone, make sure your website is up-to-date. We know we’ve said this already but it’s amazing how many organisations have out-of-date info on their websites. One of the first places many people will look is your website and if it isn’t up-to-date it can put people off.
- Templates: Create some template documents to save time when you start approaching people. This can include a template script for calling people to make sure you stay on track, as well as a template email and brief overview proposal.
- More research: Find specific contact details for the relevant people at the companies, such as the marketing manager or person responsible for corporate responsibility/corporate social responsibility. If it’s a small company, you may want to consider going directly to the CEO.
- Recent news: Before emailing, do a quick check for any recent news relating to the company that might show a reason why it’s better not to contact them at that time, such as recent redundancies. Alternatively, something positive may have happened that gives you more of a reason to get in touch.
- Tailor your template email and overview proposal to the company. Make the email personal using the contact’s name. Keep your email brief explaining why you’re contacting them. And mention that you’ll follow-up in a few weeks/next month.
This is very important. No response is not a “no”. At the same time don’t be too pushy. Leave a few weeks before you follow-up. If emailing, copy in your previous email in case they haven’t received it.
Thank the relevant people. Obvious, right? You’d be surprised how many organisations forget this vital step. Remember, it’s all about relationships. This is just one step in what could turn into a long-term partnership.
Do what you said you’d do. Again, sounds obvious but often when we’re busy things can be forgotten. This is why we noted at the start it’s important to make sure you’ve got the time and other resources to properly pursue corporate partners. Confirm with the partner what you said you’d do and any time-frame. Depending on the level of partnership it can be a good idea to create an official agreement.
Check how they’d like to be acknowledged and how often they’d like to be updated. If they don’t specify how often they’d like to hear from you, update them throughout the partnership when you’ve done what you said you’d do and/or when you’ve got some good news to share.
If someone introduced you, let them know the good news.
When the partnership ends…
Even if they didn’t ask for a report, send a brief overview of the partnership and ask for feedback from them. Where possible, try to meet them in person or have a phone call. And then from there work out the next steps.
Need some support?
Do you have any questions about working with corporate partners or other areas of fundraising? If so, I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me here.
Or perhaps your non-profit or social enterprise is in need of some expert support in another area, such as communications, evaluation or projects? Find out more on how I can help you here.