You love your nonprofit.
Like, a lot.
But businesses don’t.
Or at least it feels that way, right?
Attracting the eyes and ears of corporate donors can seem a tad overwhelming, especially since everywhere you look – from ice rinks to annual reports – other organizations seem to have so many sponsors, business connections, and support from local business leaders.
So why does it seem so overwhelming and confusing to reach out and partner up with corporate entities?
As with most things in life, if you have no road map, it’s hard to envision what way to go, let alone what first step to take.
Now, we all know that comparison is the thief of joy – and that looking at other nonprofits who are seemingly swimming in donors from the business community – it is really difficult to not think you’re doing something wrong or that your message is off putting or unattractive to corporate leaders.
It might also feel that walking into a board room and pitching your small nonprofit’s mission will end up sounding like crickets instead of raucous applause.
But that is simply not the case!
The problem might be that you just need a framework to help navigate the solicitation process.
And you’re in luck, ‘cause we have one for you!
But more importantly we taught a simple step by step process to build rapport, affinity and sellable ideas to the business community to help your nonprofit thrive with corporate support.
When I was in your fundraising shoes as a nonprofit director, I remember so clearly a conversation with a business leader regarding sponsoring a project we were working on that went off the rails almost as quickly as it started.
The gentleman, who had been a big sponsor of our organization for years, took an early morning meeting with me, and suggested I come over to his office, and bring materials for the pitch.
The typically jovial human I’d met before was in no mood for chit-chat about vacations, golf or whatever else I had up my “butter him up before I ask” sleeve. He leaned over, glared at me, and started berating me over his competitor getting more ads, shoutouts, public praise and publicity for their donation to another community organization and demanded that he get the same kind of lauding from us.
Besides feeling ambushed, attacked and completely unprepared for what I assumed was an easy “layup” of an ask, I also felt a bit of guilt for taking for granted his partnership over the years.
I had never asked him how he wanted to be thanked.
I never asked him if we were still aligned with values or project impact.
I never asked him what other organizations did to recognize his generosity.
I just never asked.
I just assumed.
The hard lesson from that conversation was not just a reminder that our corporate partners and businesses don’t HAVE to give to our nonprofits, but that we as organizations are called to make sure we have alignment and affinity before anything else. And by asking better questions, and being genuinely interested in finding partners who believe in the same goals for the community will lead to longer term support, as long as you are continuously communicative to make sure you’re on the same page – impact-wise.
Of course, it takes a bit of practice, a bit of assistance and a bit of perspective from peers who have done this kind of solicitation before in order to feel extra comfortable asking businesses for sponsorships and partnerships.
Fun fact: We’re training on this exact topic as this year’s Do Gooders Conference Midwest Tour.
Now sure, you could spend 7 hours on Google trying to figure out the best way to craft a solicitation plan, OR you could join us in one of 6 cities across the Midwest and craft it with local experts who can help you, along with getting your end-of-year appeal written, special events tweaked for fundraising awesomeness, learn the secrets to networking and connect with other nonprofit leaders in the community so that you don’t feel so alone in the fundraising world!
It's a pretty fun and easy choice, right!? Come join us!
Unique venues, great food, fantastic speakers, and tons of resources for you to tackle your biggest fundraising challenges for the rest of 2022 and beyond!
Until then – be authentic, be connective and be curious with your business community on how you can help make each other better to make bigger impact!