Corporate Giving: Best of the BasicsJanuary 27, 2009 By Kerri Cleghorn
The key to successful corporate-giving partnerships lies in thoughtful planning, strategic execution and responsible stewardship.
Here are some tips on best practices for developing each phase of a corporate-giving partnership.
1. Be strategic when identifying a prospective corporate partner.
CEOs, marketing professionals and corporate-giving staff often all say the same thing: “Don’t waste your time (or ours!) if our missions aren’t aligned.”
Fundraisers often are told to find a way, by any means necessary, to snag a corporate partner. But at a certain point, a fundraiser cannot convince a company that has a philanthropic mission concerning domestic violence to become the season underwriter of a music festival. (Actually, you might be able to, but it would take a lot of time and major creativity!) Fundraisers must do their homework to ensure that their organizations’ missions are aligned with those of the corporations they approach.
2. Get an “in” or introduction, preferably from one of your current donors/board members or from a corporate peer of the prospective donor.
You might be a great writer and give a killer pitch, but a prospect is more likely to respond to a peer or someone who already is involved and values the partnership. Working closely with allies is key. Fundraisers must arm these people with information that can make a convincing case to the corporate partner of interest.
If possible, try to be at the meeting to offer specific information, but let the person with the “in” take the lead. If you’re not at the meeting, prepare comprehensive materials and ask your ally to get you a follow-up meeting.
3. Be creative and prepare a few partnership scenarios.
Sometimes it’s all about offering choices. Try bringing a menu of options for the prospect to get involved in. One option should be on the smaller end of the spectrum, one should be a “reach” goal, and the last should be the option that most likely will be most attractive to the prospect.
It’s a good idea to research to whom and how much that prospect has given in the past. Find out what partnerships the company has and think about ways your organization might augment these areas.
Also, try to come up with ways for the prospect company to meet new goals. Some to think about might be client-entertainment opportunities, networking opportunities, positive PR, marketing exposure, and opportunities for its employees to feel good about and benefit from the partnership.