Be transparent — and think beyond cashThinking about soliciting corporate support for your nonprofit? Keep these basic best practices in mind:
- Identify target companies. Start with companies that have a strong presence in the community and a commitment or link to your organization's cause. Use your organization's board members to make personal connections with potential corporate donors. One of the principles of corporate philanthropy is "people give to people," so prioritize relationship-building.
- Follow appropriate corporate-giving channels. Research the charitable initiatives supported by specific companies and make sure to go through any designated solicitation channels. Many large companies have separate corporate-giving foundations.
- Make appeals based on patterns of giving. Consider a company's "corporate citizenship" profile, making appeals based on past patterns of giving and support.
- Present potential gains for the company. How will your work improve the company's brand? How might support of your nonprofit impact the company's employees? Discuss any benefits the company's employees and their families might receive from supporting your organization.
- Think beyond cash. Don't limit potential corporate gifts to cash. Consider asking for in-kind legal or financial advice, training, technical support or leadership development. Do you need volunteers? Ask for a donation of employee time to complete a project — paint a building, plant a garden, clean up a park. You might also offer corporate sponsorship of a performance, run/walk or other special event.
- Do double duty. Consider requesting a corporate matching grant, or challenge grant, to secure corporate support while building an individual donor base. You might also ask for internal fundraising, such as an internal matching grant or fundraising challenge. Ask if employees could be allowed to make donations through automatic payroll deductions.
- Make transparency a priority. Corporate grantmakers might want to see inside your books.
- Don't take no for a final answer. If you're turned down, don't despair. Keep working to build relationships with potential corporate donors. Use lessons learned from rejections to strengthen future proposals.
The Fundraising Authority: 10 step guide to cultivating corporate sponsors by Joe Garecht
Knowhow Nonprofit: How to approach local businesses for donations (2015)
Pilotlight: 6 ways charities can approach corporate partnerships by Gordon Shallard-Brown (2014)