Every nonprofit leader and fundraising professional knows the amount of work it takes just to seek out funding opportunities, much less how difficult it can be to actually land a corporate donation, grant, or sponsorship. While individual donations and fundraising events help to manage day-to-day operations, these larger corporate donations can help to fund projects, community initiatives, organizational expansion, and so much more.
For some smaller nonprofit organizations, landing a corporate donation can feel like a long shot, especially if they have never sought out donations beyond crowdfunding or individual donations. In truth, nonprofits at every level can earn corporate donations, and you don’t have to have long-standing relationships in the world of business to get started. If you want to work with corporate sponsors to increase funding for your nonprofit, try using some of these strategies to get more donations.
Build Relationships at Every Level
A common misconception among smaller nonprofit groups is that you need to be connected at the highest level of a corporation in order to stand a chance of qualifying for donations. This misconception likely comes from the fact that nonprofit fundraising professionals and organization leaders do typically build relationships with corporate leaders, but this fact should not be misinterpreted to mean that opportunities lie only at the top.
When your organization is seeking out corporate donations it is important to take every possible opportunity to network, which means talking to people from every level of the companies you want to work with. Small, seemingly insignificant conversations about the work your organization does could end up being your chance to get a foot in the door. Networking is absolutely essential in nonprofit work, but be sure not to become so focused on getting to the top right away. Conversation with professionals at every level can become an incredible opportunity, and you’ll be amazed at how many connections you’ll be able to make if you are open to it. Some companies even have rules against donating to any organization without the request being attached to a relationship with someone at any level within the company.
Pinpoint Win-Win Opportunities
Before you approach a company about donating to your organization, it is important to do the work of learning everything you can about it. Take a close look at the products or services the company offers, how they market their products, what their sales are like, whether the company is on the rise, what its community relationships look like, and so on. The more you know about the company you plan to approach, the better equipped you will be to establish a positive rapport.
Once you have gathered as much information about the corporation you are interested in as possible, you will be able to pinpoint win-win opportunities that may exist for your two organizations. Imagine, for instance, that your nonprofit serves a particular community that is vested in the success of the corporation you are looking to work with, or vice versa. In this case, it would be mutually beneficial for the company to make a donation, since their donation would be going towards initiatives that indirectly benefit them.
Knowing as much as possible before you reach out to request a donation can also help you to tailor a personalized sponsorship package request, which will make your case far more compelling than one of the generic requests they frequently receive.
Be Open to Non-Financial Donations
While we often think of ‘donations’ as being monetary, corporate donors have much more to give than just money. While financial donations can be a massive help to any nonprofit, there are plenty of corporations that specialize in services that are much needed or could be used in a way that could benefit a nonprofit-- think law, food service, accounting, insurance, entertainment. Some companies may want to offer their specific services pro bono, outfit your nonprofit with the product(s) they make, or even volunteer their own time to your cause.
Remember those win-win opportunities you want to look for in order to land more corporate donations? This is a great example of exactly that kind of situation. Some companies may not even consider donating money to your nonprofit unless they are allowed to document that their employees volunteer with your organization. These kinds of non-financial donations can be extremely valuable, and should not be ignored or considered a lesser donation than a monetary one.
At Blackbird Philanthropy Advisors, we work closely with businesses to help them manage and organize their philanthropic efforts. If you want to learn more, we’re sharing tons of tips, tricks, and information for nonprofit and community organizers over on our blog.