The Complete Guide to Corporate Partnerships for Nonprofits, Part 7: Fundraising...the new element.

Nonprofit Management and Leadership February 26, 2016 By Ed Lord

This is the seventh and final installment of our series. Want to start at the beginning. You'll find that here.

Today we’re seeing fundraising play a substantially larger role in a corporation’s Cause Marketing efforts. Workplace giving has been around for a long time, but workplace fundraising is a sexy new concept for some corporate partners. Businesses are gravitating to the idea because it not only brings more funds they’ve helped generate to the organization, it also amplifies the impact they can have on the cause. When an employee shifts from being a donor to being a fundraiser, they can graduate from a $100 donation to raising $1,000 or more. Today the dollar amount of a corporation’s donation and their employee’s gift can be small when compared to what a company can energize in employee, customer and community fundraising. The business gets credit for bringing the money in without having to fork over all that cash themselves.

Fundraising can increase your value to the corporation.

When you empower your corporate partner to fundraise, you may be opening a door that they didn’t know existed. Many corporations today are looking to have a bigger impact on causes and fundraising amplifies this impact. Even when a corporation has multiple nonprofit partners, the organization that first brings them the vehicle for effective fundraising not only increases the nonprofit’s revenue, but also increases their value to the company. This leads to a stronger replationship and can often be accompanied by more sponsorship dollars.

Suggest events and campaigns. 

In the past it’s seemed that nonprofits were constantly throwing fundraising ideas to corporations, hoping they could get one to stick. Back then, some corporations looked on this as an annoyance. But that climate has drastically changed. Cause Marketing is now considered a product line and not an afterthought. It has its own goals that need to be delivered on. Cause Marketing directors expect new fundraising ideas from their nonprofit partners and organizations that don’t deliver them may be brushed aside to make way for nonprofits that are more business savvy and offer solid plans for helping the company grow their Cause Marketing.

Work with your corporate partners to create new events and campaigns specifically for them. They’re looking for ideas that will help their staff, customers, your supporters and the public join with them in impacting your cause. Note that every event and campaign must build stronger relationships with their public. Here are some popular areas:

  • Marketing tie-ins. These give companies opportunities to promote fundraising around the company's marketing campaigns. For your organization, this means dollars as well as great publicity. Work on ideas that gracefully tie their sales or promotions to your event or campaign.
  • In-store events. Campaigns connected with events that draw people into physical locations mean more business for your corporate partner and more funds for you. They also provide you with an opportunity to show the public exactly how your organization is having an impact first hand. 
  • In-office challenges. Fundraising between departments, stores, corporate offices, lines of business, etc. is a great team-building activity. Provide each team with a photo or in-person meet-up with an individual that they’re helping. It can really give them something to fight for.
  • Fundraise-your-way campaigns. These are rapidly becoming an organization’s best friend. Give the corporation the ability for their staff, customers and the public to do co-branded campaigns in your fundraising software. There’s minimal involvement needed from your staff and DIY campaigners raise more than five times as much as event participants.

The importance of good fundraising software.

The ease-of-use and effectiveness of peer-to-peer fundraising software is rapidly taking on a new importance as companies realize the impact that fundraising can have on their corporate cause. They’re most impressed when their employees and customers can use the same software with corporate branded pages for events, fundraise-your-way campaigns and internal corporate fundraisers. These are features that DonorDrive is having great success with for corporations using peer-to-peer. Make sure your fundraising software offers easy fundraising, a simple donation process and mobile-friendly fundraising pages that match your corporate partner’s brand. If software is hard to use, doesn’t work on mobile and too generic to match corporate branding, you run the risk of the corporate partner thinking a lack of money raised is because your organization is not up to the task. Successful fundraising is rapidly becoming an indicator of a successful nonprofit partner. For a long-term partnership to succeed, fundraising software issues can’t become a focal point.

In closing...

We’re seeing a trend in corporate partnerships that moves beyond giving an organization one-off sponsorship dollars to long-term relationships that supply organizations with so many of the resources they need to deliver on their mission. A final point here: Make sure that everyone in your organization, from the board on down, is onboard with a new corporate partner’s expectations. Job number one is to deliver on your promises—if you expect that relationship to last. Corporations are now expecting a business relationship with their nonprofit partners and since they’d dump any business partner that doesn’t perform, organizations can expect the same treatment as Cause Marketing evolves. But one thing is for sure: Companies really love when an organization over-delivers.

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