A Guide to Workplace and Corporate Fundraising
For many organisations, fundraising can be the thing that makes or breaks them. Successful charities know how to approach people, position themselves as a not for profit agency people want to associate themselves with and gain invaluable support and sponsorship from large companies.
But for some charities, fundraising seems like a constant uphill struggle with no sign of success. Luckily, there are many ways you can improve your fundraising strategy and partner with corporate sponsors that have the means to support your organisation’s growing needs.
In this post, we’re going to look at corporate and workplace fundraising, including why it’s beneficial and how to do it correctly.
The Types of Corporate Partnerships
There are many corporate partnerships, and the one you form depends on both the charitable organisation and the company that work together. Let’s take a look at the types of corporate partnerships available.
Companies have a diverse set of skills, and while some might not be willing to offer financial support, many will donate their employees to a cause. For example, if a nationwide vet chain wants to support a charity such as The Dogs Trust, they might offer free check-ups from their vets.
There are plenty of ways companies can support charitable organisations, and offering the skills and time of their employees can prove to be more valuable than financial support.
For example, a digital marketing agency could help a small organisation by donating marketing professionals to improve the charities digital presence. While money can be beneficial, free support from skilled individuals can prove to be invaluable.
An excellent way for companies to improve their social responsibility is to donate a portion of their profits to a specific cause. It’s beneficial because consumers today care more about how a company conducts itself.
An article by Investopedia shows that companies with social responsibility sell more products, create a stronger impression amongst their clients and generate higher levels of employee morale and loyalty.
A business should donate its profits to a cause that represents the products it sells. For example, Thirsty Planet gives a portion of its sales from bottled water to initiatives that provide clean drinking water in Africa.
Another company getting social responsibility right is Andrex. The company makes toilet roll but commits itself to plant trees which reduces the impact of deforestation.
If your charity supports a specific cause, look for companies that would benefit from taking responsibility for that cause.
Think back to a few years ago when you were purchasing items from your favourite store. The chances are, there was a collection box at the checkout, and you probably put some of your spare change in the box.
While times have changed, retailers still support charities by collecting money from them. We’ve moved into a cashless society, with most people using their debit cards or smartphones to make payments, but companies such as Greggs and Amazon still collect donations.
One of the most popular cashless collections is to ask people to round their purchases up to the nearest pound when they check out. Domino’s Pizza is a classic example of why this system works.
While many people might hesitate to place money in a collection box, they’ll most likely be willing to add a small amount of cash to their purchase before they check out, which means charities can benefit from regular donations.
Another popular method of money collecting is the use of cashless QR codes. Charities can benefit from the lowest payments per donation, and merchants can display the codes without inconveniencing their customers.
Small retailers might offer financial support to their chosen charity by selling specific merchandise. The most famous example of this is the Comic Relief red nose or the poppies sold by numerous shops to commemorate The Royal British Legion.
There is a range of shops that sell limited edition products with the proceeds going to charity. It’s a fantastic way to promote your cause. Many smaller businesses might not be able to afford to support your charity financially but will be more than happy to sell merchandise that reflects what you stand for.
Taking Part in Fundraising Activities
Another popular way for charities and companies to pair up is through fundraising activities. This method works particularly well for large corporations which have a large workforce. Many companies partner with charities that focus on physical health and mental wellbeing because they can benefit from fundraising activities.
For example, pub giants Greene King raised millions of pounds for McMillan with various fundraising activities. Burton Menswear supports Prostate Cancer UK, and Royal Mail holds regular votes where its employees vote on charity partners.
What Are the Benefits of Corporate Fundraising?
Corporate fundraising holds many benefits for both sponsors and charities. Not for profit organisations can take advantage of higher funding levels, more visibility for their cause and long-term financial support. But what about the benefits for companies? Let’s take a look.
Better Brand Identity
As we mentioned previously, corporate responsibility is everything to a brand’s identity. Becoming socially responsible can improve how customers relate to a company instead of seeing it as a faceless organisation.
For example, if an individual is vegetarian, they’ll be more likely to offer their business to a company that shows respect and commitment to improving animal rights. But if large companies focus solely on profits, they’ll lose respect from their audience and suffer from a poor corporate image.
Higher Levels of Staff Engagement
A study published by Frontiers in Psychology shows that employees become more engaged with their employer if they take a firm stance for a social cause. Perhaps it’s because people no longer feel their workplace is just a job, and they want to know they’re making a difference in the world.
Many companies offer days off for their employees to volunteer and support fundraising activities. Staff members enjoy feeling a sense of purpose, and companies can create a positive working environment by partnering with a charity.
Improved Digital Presence
Social media is one of the best weapons in a company’s arsenal, but the competition is fierce. According to Brandwatch, there are over 60 million business pages on Facebook, which means that every business is competing for visibility.
When a company supports social causes, it allows them to publish meaningful content that gets more public interactions. When people see that a corporation genuinely cares about a cause, they’re more likely to follow that company.
It’s also worthwhile mentioning that customers might switch their loyalty depending on what cause a company supports. For example, Burton Menswear supports UK Prostate Cancer, so men who have suffered or known someone that had the condition might choose Burton as their clothing provider based on that fact alone.
How to Secure Corporate Fundraising
Both companies and charities should do their best to nurture relationships, but many underestimate how difficult it is. There’s a lot of research, communication and compromise for both parties.
Corporate fundraising is a job within itself, and many charities have a dedicated department to support them in finding the best companies to partner with. Every charity must assess what type of company they should approach for funding and learns how to position themselves as a cause worth supporting.
Here are some of the best ways a charity can source the ideal corporate sponsor.
Perhaps the most critical stage, research is everything. Not only does it highlight the corporate sponsors that will be a good fit, but it’s also central to ensuring your long-term success with a corporate fundraiser.
Look To The Stars, Then Come Down To Earth
We all have dreams and ideals, but it’s essential to be realistic. For example, you might love the brand Superdry and feel they’d be excellent sponsors for your environmental charity. The problem is, many other charities might also want Superdry to partner with them.
By looking at the global companies you admire, you can gain insights about which organisations are within the same industry but are more realistic options. Every charity wants the stability of having the support of an international brand, but it could be worth settling for a smaller business that can grow with your not for profit.
Gain Invaluable Information
When you’ve found a list of companies that might be a good fit, you should make an effort to learn everything about them. How many employees do they have? What kind of growth have they achieved since being founded? What mission statement do they position themselves under?
Knowing all of this information will help you make a final choice about which company is the best fit and also give you a distinct advantage when you approach them for support.
Get Background Information
Many companies will have a distinct communications process and won’t take kindly to you randomly reaching out to them. Check on their website for how they like people to contact them and make an effort to accommodate their request.
For example, some might have a contact form, while others have a list of email addresses for specific departments. Perform your research and do everything you can to make the process as painless as possible for both parties.
Finding a corporate sponsor isn’t an easy task, and there will be a lot of pitching involved. Ultimately, you need to impress the company you’re asking to support your cause, so it’s essential to take your time with the pitching process.
Sell The Benefits
Similarly to marketing, people don’t want to be sold a product. They do, however, take an active interest in how a product benefits them. You should take this approach when you pitch to potential corporate partners.
It’s only natural that you want to discuss your charity and talk about how the cause benefits society, but a company will also want to understand how they’ll benefit from fundraising for you.
Discuss important aspects for companies such as their improved sales, employee engagement, the potential to reach a broader audience and however else they might benefit from supporting your charity.
It might be useful to look at areas the company needs to improve on, such as its online presence, employee retention levels and where they stand against its competitors. If you can create a pitch that shows compels the company of your choice to want to form a partnership with your charity.
Rehearse The Pitch
Nobody likes public speaking, and delivering a pitch can be a nerve-wracking experience for even the most seasoned professionals. While you can’t predict what happens on the day, rehearsing your pitch can help you prepare yourself.
It’s important to present yourself well and focus on how to come across professionally. Visual presentations can be helpful to get your point across but always prepare for the unexpected.
People will have questions, and it’s your job to provide them with the right answers. While you need to make an impression, you shouldn’t overestimate what your charity can offer and agree to terms that aren’t within your power to do so.
Ultimately, the pitch is about igniting a company’s interest in your charity and showing that you’d be a worthy partner. Never agree to terms during the initial pitch because you should set a meeting where all parties involved can come to contractual agreements.
Prepare For The Next Stage of Pitching
One you deliver the initial pitch, the company will need time to decide whether they want to continue the discussions. You should set a point of contact and make sure you’re available to talk whenever they need to.
It’s common for a company to go away and come back with more questions, so you should always prepare yourself to answer anything they need to know. It’s also crucial for you to ask questions and make sure you have a point of contact. If you don’t show active interest, then they might have an issue with becoming your corporate sponsor.
Keep in touch and make sure you respond to any questions promptly.
Never Drop The Ball
If a company agrees to a partnership with you, then don’t get too comfortable because the hard work is only just beginning! You need to make sure you protect your charity and get the best contract terms possible.
Learn About Contracts
Contracts are legally binding agreements that are essential when you find a corporate sponsor. You need to protect your charity and make sure the company fulfils its legal responsibilities. They’ll also need to ensure that you’ll stick to your obligations and commitment to their company.
It’s always beneficial for a charity to have a legal advisor to support them with contracts and agree to terms with a company. There should be an approved set of expectations and an effort to smooth out any ambiguity between both parties.
Build a Relationship
Finding a corporate sponsor is a great way to secure long-term financial stability for your charity, but it should be so much more than a business relationship. You should take an active interest in the company and ask them about any events they have planned.
Face to face meetings are always beneficial, so make an effort to check in with your dedicated point of contact and remain open to becoming involved in any events the company would like your charity to participate in.
Don’t Be Afraid to Put Yourself Out There
Most charities try to find multiple corporate partnerships to aid in their fundraising activities because it’s tough to rely on just one. We live in uncertain economic times, and most corporate sponsors will be fine with you partnering with other companies – as long as they’re not direct competitors.
Think about how you can use your experience of working with companies to gain further corporate fundraisers but always make sure you don’t step on anyone’s toes. Most companies will have a set of rules they expect you to follow, so check for any exclusivity clauses in the contract before you reach out to other businesses.
Remember, both charities and companies need to benefit from an arrangement mutually, so you should make yourself available to discuss important events and how you can support your corporate sponsors by improving their social image through your charity.
Things to Consider
Hopefully, forming a partnership can be a smooth process, but there will always be instances of conflict that arise. Being aware of these in advance can help you to avoid any potential issues and form a fruitful partnership with the company of your choice.
Common points of conflict include:
- A company wants a partnership to be exclusive, but a charity needs more corporate sponsors to survive.
- There are questions about the company’s ethics. For example, a cosmetics brand supports an animal rights charity but sources ingredients from countries that conduct animal testing.
- The company wants access to the charity’s sponsors, but the charity doesn’t want to compromise its donors’ privacy.
While some form of conflict is inevitable, you can protect yourself by communicating openly with the company before reaching an agreement. If both of you share your expectations and agree to respect others’ wishes, you can form a partnership that offers many mutual benefits.
Workplace and corporate fundraising is an excellent way for both companies and charities to improve their social image and enjoy a sustainable future. While finding corporate fundraising partners is difficult, you can enjoy the benefits once you form a partnership.
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