Friday, June 15, 2018

How to better position your non-profit to receive corporate funding

One of the questions I have received most since I stepped into the corporate philanthropy world is, "How can I get my (insert event, program, non-profit name) sponsored?" Every company is different, but, I have come up with a few tips that should be universal.

Be clear in your request.
When requesting funds or a donation from a company, it is imperative that you are very clear in what you are requesting. Ambiguous requests require more emails/follow up calls and delay your request. So, if you are asking for a product donation of 500 whatnots, be specific and ask for the 500 whatnots. If you are requesting a $50,000 sponsorship to fund X program, say that as well. Because of the number of requests most companies receive, you will want to make the review of your request as easy as possible.

Follow directions.
If the company requires you to submit your request online, or include a copy of your organization’s tax paperwork or the history of donations that your organization has received from the company, follow directions. Company representatives could be receiving hundreds of requests daily and while you may think that an extra phone call or email will get you to the head of the line, more than likely, it will slow down the process for you and everyone else who has made a request.

Be creative.
Corporate partnerships with non-profits can and should be mutually beneficial. The payment for sponsorships are made with a reasonable expectation of receiving some sort of commensurate return. Sponsorships are a business relationship in which both the sponsored organization and the company should beneļ¬t. So, when thinking about a sponsorship, think about current company initiatives and how your program, partnership or event fits into that goal. Be creative! The sky is the limit.

Be prompt in your response.
It should go without saying, but, if you are requesting a donation from a company, be responsive if the company representative reaches out with questions, needs payment information or is working to organize a donation pick up. It can be time-consuming for the company representative to have to send multiple requests for the same thing and ruin your future relationship with the individual or the company.

Be flexible.
If a company is willing to donate product or funds for your upcoming event and request that you pick up the product or check from a location, go and pick up the check or product. Be easy to work with. It goes a long way. And, you will get bonus points if you reach out for promotional materials to display at your upcoming event or to hand out to program participants.
Be knowledgeable of your company’s program offerings.
When requesting a donation, be knowledgeable of your non-profit’s programs and services and develop a proposal in advance of attending a meeting with the company representative. Do some research on the company’s goals and try to align your mission with those goals. Determine what programs/services you feel are the best fit for funding and ask. Take notes during your meeting with the company representative and adjust your proposal as needed. Be realistic in your request, but, also, don’t aim low. You never know what funds are available to help your organization and the organization's clients.

Say thank you!
After your event or program is over, send a thank you email or card, include a recap and photos. Photos that show the company’s brand included in collateral materials are most memorable and will better position you to receive future funding.
Good luck with your request!

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