Climb to the Top of the Corporate-giving Ladder
Climb to the Top of the Corporate-giving Ladder With a Compelling Annual Report
Nov. 15, 2006
By Sarah Durham and Ali Kiselis, Big Duck Studios
When it comes to motivating corporations to support your mission, you've got one critical fundraising weapon in your communications arsenal: your annual report.
Annual reports often are the first thing corporate giving officers want to see. It's a way they can relate to a nonprofit and wrap their head around what you do, why you do it and how you're getting it done. While an individual might be primarily motivated to give because of the "warm fuzzy" connection she feels to your organization, a corporation is moved by a business-like case for support AND the "warm fuzzy" connection. (After all, an individual ultimately is behind the decisions!)
In other words, for a corporation to allocate serious dollars, it must perceive your organization as a sound investment. It needs to be able to proudly talk about its decision to support you with its shareholders, top brass and other key constituents.
Corporations make giving decisions based on a number of variables. They might give because of corporate policies that dictate areas they will support (for example, only community-based groups, healthcare issues, the arts, etc.), a chief executive's personal interests or connections ("pet" causes, for example) and more. Expect your annual report to sit on a desk alongside the annual reports of lots of other organizations you might be competing with for support. Will it hold up? Does it look like you spent too much money? Not enough?
Here are five ideas to make your annual report stand out from the crowd:
- Use an unexpected size (small, tall, wide or round, for instance).
- Incorporate "real life" pictures of the people, community or place you serve.
Sarah Durham is president of Big Duck, a New York City-based branding, marketing and fundraising firm for nonprofits. She serves on the boards of the National Brain Tumor Society and the New York Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).