Alignment to Achievement
FS Advisor -- Nov. 15, 2006
Partnering with a corporation or other business can be a major coop for nonprofit organizations. And such for-profit entities see a real value in these partnerships.
Safeco, for example, is a Seattle-based property and casualty insurance company that considers community relations a driver of good will and also a supporter of its business objectives. As an insurance company, Safeco aligns its community relations activity in a way that builds, protects and helps neighborhoods thrive. Its funding and volunteer efforts support things like neighborhood small business development, helping homeowners prevent loss, safety and disaster preparedness, and the creation and enhancement of parks and gathering spaces.
But these partnerships rarely fall into nonprofits’ laps. Before they can take place, organizations need to make a pitch to the companies with which they want to partner. Your best bet is do your homework in advance and make a pitch that portrays the partnership in a light that’s as positive for the for-profit as it is for the nonprofit.
The following are a few fundraising tips from a corporate grant maker’s perspective:
* Research your prospects. Research before you send in a grant application. Find out what the company does, what it funds and the typical grant range. Many companies encourage potential applicants to call before applying to learn more and determine whether the project or program is a fit.
* Target your grant proposals. Having done your research, it’s time to use your knowledge. In your proposal, highlight the direct organizational ties you share with your corporate giver. Understand your corporate giver’s business objectives and explain how you’ll help meet them through a grant. If a company’s giving strategy doesn’t align with your organization’s goals, it’s better to move on and seek other opportunities rather than trying to make something fit.
Safeco reviews hundreds of grants each quarter. Successful recipients have done their homework and align with Safeco’s interest in supporting organizations that work to build strong communities.
* Build lasting relationships. Most companies are interested in more than just writing a check. Look for tangible ways your organization can become a partner. Safeco always looks for opportunities to involve employees and agents. If you’re funding a park project or neighborhood clean-up, Safeco wants its employees and agents on the ground on project days and opening ceremonies.
* Continue the dialogue. It’s critical to report back on the outcomes and impact that grants have on your organization and the community. Companies are more likely to consider future requests if they know the importance of your work and the goals their grants helped you achieve. Keep the report simple. Include relevant information that relates to the goals laid out in your original request. Identify specific areas in which the company’s funding contributed to your success.
* Take your time. When you’ve done your background work, researched and contacted your prospective grant giver, and feel you’re a good match, take time to create a solid proposal. Corporations appreciate a thoughtful partner. Remember, the best grants are partnerships where the giver and receiver collaborate to achieve the greatest impact.
Wendy Stauff is community relations manager at Safeco. She can be reached via www.safeco.com.