You Asked—Fundraising Questions Answered, Part Three
How do you get your foot in the door with big corporations that have philanthropic tendencies? You absolutely have to do your homework. What kinds of things do they support (and do you qualify)? Are their facilities in communities where you work? Do any of your volunteers work there? Do they look for nonprofits that can provide unique, hands-on opportunities for their employees, and if so, can you accommodate that? Corporations donate for many reasons, but two strong ones are to show the community that they are good community members and to be attractive to employees and prospective employees because they are good corporate citizens. Once you know what they are willing to support and you have determined you qualify, ask if you can present your nonprofit's story to them. If applicable, someone who volunteers with you and works there may be able to open a door. Start out by asking for something small and show them that you will deliver on what you say you will do. Get the support from smaller corporations first and work your way up, using endorsements from those companies to open doors at progressively larger ones. You may be lucky and get a gift or an event sponsorship, but that's just a part of your job. Delivering on your promise will get you the next—and maybe larger—gift. That means acting professional by thanking them for appointments, consideration and referrals, not just a donation. It also requires submitting reports on the use of the gift on schedule. If they don't request a report, it's still a good idea to give some kind of small proof that their investment was well-used—send a few photos with captions, a testimonial, etc. Finally, offer to publicize the donors if they want and then follow through. Successful relationships with corporations mean both the corporation and the nonprofit are providing value to the other. What's your value proposition?
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.