Once upon a time, there was a fellow named For-Profit (FP). He was creative, handsome and had tons of money (me-ow). One day, he was strolling down the street (counting his cash, of course) and bumped into a lovely woman named Non-Profit (NP). Suffice it to say, it was love at first sight. Some people gossiped that NP only wanted FP for his loot; others said that he was only with her because he pitied her. Despite the rumor mill, their love grew and FP asked NP to marry him. A year later, FP and NP welcomed their first child into the world: Corporate Giving (aka, CG). As FP and NP gazed down at their son, they knew that CG would add to the fulness of their lives for many years to come…
Silly love story? Perhaps. But before you judge my fiction-writing abilities, consider the real opportunities that arise when nonprofits partner with for-profits through the latter’s corporate giving programs.
According to Giving USA 2011: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2010, corporate giving rose an estimated 10.6% last year (i.e., $15.29 billion). In taking a closer look at the data, the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy found that 53% of companies gave more in 2010 than in 2007 (before folks began using the phrase “in these tough economic times” to begin every conversation). Much of this increase is attributed to a variety of factors, including increased corporate mergers and acquisitions, a rise in donations of medical products to uninsured individuals, and a heightened sense of human need in the wake of natural disasters (e.g., the earthquake in Haiti). While corporate contributions are still small compared to the support received from individuals and foundations, it remains a viable revenue stream for nonprofits to tap into.
So, what are some of the things that your nonprofit should consider in pursuing corporate support? Check out my top three tips below:
- Match Mission. When researching corporate support, the process is similar to that of foundations. You want to make sure that your nonprofit’s mission aligns with the goals and strategies of your corporate prospects. For example, if your organization provides back-to-school supplies to urban youth, you might consider approaching the Staples Foundation in soliciting either cash or in-kind donations (e.g., folders, pens, etc.) for your program.
- Emphasize Partnering. In my experience, I have found that soliciting support from corporations is a much easier sell than that of foundations. While any giving program is designed to address a social need, with foundations the funding pitch begins and ends with a nonprofit promising to partner with grantmakers to advance their shared charitable goals. However, with corporations, nonprofits can emphasize how the corporate gift will not only advance charitable goals, but increase the company’s bottom line. A perfect example is Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Synonymous with the fight against breast cancer, the partnership between Komen and their corporate sponsors have undoubtedly raised the financial and marketing profiles of all involved.
- Consider Dual Impact. Now that I’ve gotten you all excited about soliciting corporate support, a word of caution is in order. Before you make the leap in approaching a corporation, be sure to consider their track record in the community. Has the corporation been involved in any fair-wage disputes (think: Wal-Mart)? Is there a questionable increase in philanthropic dollars due to a proposed company merge (think: Capital One-ING Direct)? If your nonprofit is at all concerned about the potential backlash of accepting certain forms of corporate support, then it is worth it to do your homework in the front end.
Now, it’s your turn. What other tips would you suggest in seeking corporate support?