Corporation Solicitation Programs: Not For Every Nonprofit

Sections of this topic

    In considering the creation of a Corporate Solicitation Program (a CSP), the first questions I’d ask of a nonprofit is whether they realize that only five-percent of all “charitable” giving to nonprofits comes from corporations, and (considering “return-on-investment”) how much of their time, energy and assets do they want to dedicate to this effort? That means that you cannot try to get funding from every corporation that comes to mind.

    Whether the NPO does or does not deal with that basic concept, the major issue in creating a CSP is evaluating whether the NPO can do it successfully.

    The planning process begins with the questions: How do corporations view your organization? Do they see a history of good service to the community and good fiscal management? Do they see a history of other corporations supporting your NPO and getting the “quid pro quo” that they want? How do they know they’ll get what they want if they support you? Do you have a mission/program/service that dovetails with a corporation’s mission and/or product/service line?

    Corporate fundraising is about the needs of the corporation, and a corporation’s needs are pretty much about their bottom line – many have stockholders they must satisfy.

    If supporting an NPO gives them good visibility and good credibility, that would likely result in increased sales of their products/services. A corporation might give to be a good member of the community, or just to appear to be a good member of the community. But a corporation would certainly not give, if giving would hurt their bottom line.

    Corporate fundraising is also about the needs of the corporate officers and board members – what will they (personally) get out of having their corporation support you!! That becomes more of an issue of individual cultivation – getting one or more of those people to see how supporting you will benefit them, and getting them, therefore, to become your advocate within the corporation.

    So, the first step in the process is determining if a CSP can/would work for your NPO.
    Once you’ve done the study to determine that, you’ll have a better idea of the kind of help you might need to implement/expand your Corporate Solicitation Program.

    So, to begin the process, make a (wish) list of all those potential corporate donors, and then gather the material you need to determine which corporations are real prospects.

    Some Corporate Annual Reports list the amount(s) they’ve given to nonprofit organizations, and often list those NPOs. Check to see if they give to organizations that do what you do. Look to see if there’s a statement of policy as to the types/locations of NPOs they support. Some corps give only to NPOs that their employees support – check that out.

    Check to see if the corporation has an office/department/division of charitable giving … or whatever they may call it. Call them; ask for a copy of the corporation’s giving guidelines. Talk with a corporate giving officer, if they have such, and (come right out and) ask what you have to do to get the corporation to add you to their list of nonprofits they support. FYI, corporate giving officers are there to work with you to see if there’s a match – and sometimes work with you to create a match — between what you can do for them and what they can do for you.

    Make a list of the officers and directors of the corporations and circulate that list to your board members, volunteers and major donors to see if anyone you know has a personal connection with a corporate board member or officer who can help you get corporate money.

    That means that you must cultivate – build a relationship with – those corporate officers and directors … the same as you would with a prospective major donor.

    Most corporations have been asked before. Don’t be bashful.

    Sometimes the Ask can be as simple as a conversation with the right person, and sometimes as formal as a grant proposal to a foundation. You’ll find out which when you do your research.

    Have you heard about
    The Fundraising Series of ebooks?
    They’re easy to read, to the point, and inexpensive ($1.99-$4.99)

    Have a comment or a question about starting, evaluating
    or expanding your fundraising program?

    We welcome your questions/problems —
    they are likely to engender further discussion.
    Look forward to hearing from you.
    Comments & Questions