Robert Bellovin is a Media Relations Coordinator at Software Advice. Before joining Software Advice, he worked as an Account Manager for Granite Public Affairs and as a Deputy Campaign Manager for a U.S. Congressional campaign. At Software Advice, he covers marketing, nonprofit and small business.
For most non-profit organizations, corporate donations only make up a fraction of fundraising efforts. In fact, corporate contributions only accounted for five percent of all U.S. nonprofit donations in 2011. However, the benefits of landing corporate donors goes beyond monetary benefits: they can help non-profits earn publicity, which can lead to an increase in donations from individuals and other companies.
If you are a non-profit fundraiser in search of corporate donations, here are four ways you can align your organization with a corporation's brand, mission and philanthropic goals in an effort to build a long-lasting alliance:
1. Research the Company's History
Corporations have a tendency to donate to organizations whose missions align with their own. Research a company's background, key achievements, future plans, goals and recent history. For example, an oil and gas company that has had a recent hazardous spill might be inclined to donate to a non-profit organization that protects wetlands.
Alliances and partnerships between non-profits and corporations come about because they share a common vision and goal. Looking at a company's donation history can help you understand whether your organization is a good match in terms of monetary donations and employee participation levels. Expert non-profit fundraisers often collect and organize donation histories using fundraising applications, then use this data to maximize their future outreach efforts.
2. Employee Focus
The phrase "employee focus" donations refers to corporate contributions that are spurred by the interests and needs of their employees. Many CEOs are now realizing that in order to recruit and retain top talent, they need to integrate a philanthropic mission into their company's culture. This can be accomplished by donating funds to an organization their employees often volunteer at, giving to an organization that advocates for a cause that is meaningful to their staff or hosting an off-site charitable event.
Habitat for Humanity St. Louis' CEO, Kimberly McKinney, stresses how participating in a volunteer event with visible results, such as building a home, can be a strong team-building activity for a company's staff. McKinney also encourages cross-departmental interaction as it is a great way to eliminate barriers between employees and managers.
The Home Depot Foundation, says Southern Division Field Manager Joe Wimberley, decided to focus on helping elderly and disabled veterans when it found that more than 35,000 Home Depot employees were veterans. Wimberley said that employees have taken a personal interest in the Foundation's work to renovate veterans' homes, and that it has helped strengthen the team's unity.
3. Corporations Value Local Causes
Corporations are more likely to contribute to local organizations and causes. A study by the
Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy found that, between 2000 and 2011, 60 percent of donations over $1 million went to organizations that were in the donor's immediate geographic area.
Amanda Ponzar, Communications Director for United Way Worldwide, says that employees and customers alike want to help their community. Giving to local organizations signals to customers that the corporation cares about local issues. And when employees volunteer at one of them, it often helps build special relationships between the company and the nonprofit. The corporations offer financial assistance and volunteers, and the non-profit provides positive publicity for the corporation and a way for employees to give back to the local community.
4. Work to Develop a Long-Lasting Partnership
For non-profits, every little bit of funding helps, but most organizations would prefer long-lasting partnerships rather than one-time donations. Ponzar says that, as a fundraiser, you must understand the company's long-term goals: not just for itself, but for local community, the country and even the world. Her organization seeks out partnerships of mutual interest that engage the staff and focus on the broader mission of both organizations.
For example, United Way has a long-lasting partnership with Wells Fargo, through which the organizations work to provide financial education to the public. This partnership helps build a bridge between Wells Fargo's goal of attracting more customers and United Way's goal of helping individuals and families become more financially stable. These types of long-standing partnerships allow the non-profit and the company to work together, while utilizing one another’s strengths.
Keep these four tips in mind if you are a non-profit fundraiser: they can help you increase your corporation donations and form long-lasting partnerships that can be beneficial for all parties.
Research for the original article was performed by Wes Eichenwald.