For charities, securing corporate donations is the Holy Grail. Unfortunately, they can sometimes feel just as hard to track down. However, it doesn’t have to be this way – corporate spend in the charity sphere is on an upward trajectory, and there’s no sign of it slowing down any time soon. So how do you ensure some of those dollars come your way?
Understand the importance of partnership
The most important thing to understand before you even start is that however worthy your cause, companies aren’t going to give you money out of the goodness of their hearts. Any partnership, big or small, is about business. Nothing more, nothing less. So you need to show what you can do for them.
There are two key reasons corporations align themselves with charities: to boost their brand by using the “halo” effect of being a good corporate citizen, and to increase sales through exposure to the audience charities can offer them. The key to securing a donation from a business then is to demonstrate how your charity will do this. Don’t just sell your mission – sell the promotional value.
Show what you can do for them
Facts and figures are a great way to start. Make sure you can quantify your audience – how many people see or receive your newsletter, share your social posts and visit your website. If you’re asking for sponsorship for an event, what reach do you expect, and will it be promoted through other channels. If a business can project a tangible return on investment, they are more likely to dig deep.
It’s also worth mentioning here that you’ll need to demonstrate that your own digital strategy is up to scratch – there’s no point promoting their business if no-one is engaging with you. So if you aren’t getting the social shares or website hits, make sure you get your house in order before you start looking for donations. It’s also worth getting a PR strategy in place, as the more places you show up in the media, the more businesses will want to be aligned with you.
Promotion is everything
You’ll need to be able to show exactly how you’ll be able to promote their brand, so put together a plan. How will they feature in your newsletters, on your website and on your social media? How will any events they are sponsoring be promoted, and how will they feature in that promotion?
If you already have previously established corporate partnerships, make sure you’re highlighting them everywhere you can. Not only will this strengthen existing partnerships, it actually encourages other sponsors – the thinking being you must be doing something right if you’ve got company XYZ on board.
It is of course much harder for a company to measure the more intangible brand benefits of their association with you than to measure the more practical return on investment you can offer through marketing and promotional activities. However, you are in a position to help them out by spelling out very clearly what their dollars will do for your charity.
Provide stats and info that they can put in their annual reports or marketing materials around what your charity does, and why it’s so important, and quantify exactly what it is their donation will achieve.
Essentially, if you can demonstrate that you understand a company’s key business drivers (their objectives, audience and values), you can position their partnership with you as a benefit, not a burden. That way, you’ll be much more likely to make that partnership a reality.