If you’ve spent any time on Qgiv’s blog, you know that we’ve got a ton of resources for people and organizations who are looking to raise more money and ask for donations.
In this guide, we’ll be focusing on asking for donations from companies. Companies can be valuable supporters of your organization, especially if you’re able to develop long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with them.
Finding, asking, and maintaining company donations can be tricky though, especially if you don’t already have existing partnerships. What kind of companies are best to ask? What are the resources you have that you can use to give back?
Whether you’re asking for monetary donations, volunteer time, or in-kind donations, our tips can help guide you toward fundraising success. We’ll be reviewing the following:
- Determine which companies you should ask
- Find a point of contact
- Think about what you can offer in return
- Make the ask!
- Follow up
- Say “thank you“
- How to cultivate companies
1. Determine which companies you should ask
This first step will likely determine how your fundraising strategy develops. Therefore, it’s important to focus on the companies you can realistically ask for donations from.
A good place to start is businesses in your local community.
Local businesses have a much more vested interest in the well-being of your community. They live there too, and they want to see positive changes in their area.
Depending on where your organization is based, though, local businesses might not have a massive amount of money to give to your organization.
If that’s the case, you should probably look into grants offered by larger, national corporations as well.
Each type of business has something to offer when it comes to fundraising.
Either way, you’ll want to make sure to start the relationship off right. Strong business/nonprofit partnerships can be extremely beneficial in the long run.
2. Find a point of contact
If you plan on asking for donations from companies, you can’t just go up to anyone who works there, ask for money, and expect to walk away with a huge check.
As convenient as that would be, you have to form relationships with leadership members within the company you’re asking for donations from.
In larger companies, this will likely be the person in charge of corporate social responsibility (CSR), but at smaller businesses, it might simply be the owner or manager.
Determine who your point of contact is and form a strong relationship with that person. Your in-person meetings will go much more smoothly if you already have a good partnership with whomever is writing the checks.
3. Think about what you can offer in return
Partnerships go two ways. If you ask for donations–monetary or in-kind–you have to show the business that they’ll receive something in return.
Depending on your existing relationship with the company, how much they donate, and your available resources, this could take a multitude of forms:
- Logos and names on banners at events.
- References in donor communications.
- Information in your annual report.
- Tax benefits.
- Positive press.
- And more!
Before asking for donations from companies, make sure that you assess what your organization can realistically offer them in return.
4. Make the ask!
Asking for donations from corporations can be a daunting task. No matter how much you’ve prepared, it can be nerve-wracking to sit down with someone to ask for a substantial amount of money.
There are a couple of ways you can go about asking for donations:
1. Write a letter. This method lends a bit of formality to the ask. Limit your letter to one page, and make sure that someone in your organization signs it (preferably a board member or other leader).
2. Ask in person. This method is sometimes preferred by nonprofits who are asking local businesses for donations. Asking in person can be tricky, especially if the person you’re trying to meet with already has a busy schedule. But meeting face-to-face can also help you perfectly spell out your appeal and answer any questions head on.
In either case, make sure that you are genuine and clear. Your appeal should be well researched, and the amount asked for should be appropriate for your situation and the company’s capacity.
Making a donation appeal can be tough. Luckily, we’ve got this list of top tips for asking for donations.
5. Follow up
Sometimes, a company won’t write a check or make an in-kind donation after the first letter or meeting.
That’s why following up with your point of contact a couple weeks afterward is so important.
Your follow up can be less formal than your initial meeting. You could:
When following up, it’s a good idea to reiterate the positive points from your earlier meetings. Make sure you emphasize how the donation will benefit the company and what you can offer in return.
Following up has its limitations, however. You don’t want to annoy your point of contact and potentially alienate them. Instead, take a slow and steady approach, checking up every couple of weeks or so.
If the company decides that they don’t want to donate, offer them different ways to partner with your organization.
6. Say “thank you”
We can’t stress the importance of gratitude in the fundraising process enough.
Acknowledging donations is even more critical when it comes to receiving corporate funds or in-kind contributions. It’s even important if the company decides not to donate. It keeps your relationship with them intact, leaves a good impression on them, and can leave open opportunities to partner with them in the future.
If a gift was made, let your point of contact know how much you appreciated their help during the fundraising process and acknowledge any connections that helped you form your partnership.
Then, deliver on the promises you made to the company.
Who knows? Perhaps this initial donation will turn into an even more promising partnership in the future.
7. How to cultivate companies
Once you’ve established a partnership with a company and let them know how much you appreciate their support, it’s time to think about the future. Cultivating company relationships for donations is more than just a one-time engagement and can in fact result in a steady flow of donations every year.
Retaining your donors ends up being more cost-effective and beneficial than acquiring new ones, and the same can go for your company partnerships.
Some organizations implement specific programs in order to keep their corporate donors interested and engaged in the mission. This can look like:
- Corporate matching gift programs. Consider reaching out to companies with an existing matching gift program or suggest it to your partners. This is a great way to increase gifts to your cause and engage individual employees.
- In-kind donation programs. If the company produces a product that you could use, such as fabric for face masks, you can set up a program where the company consistently donates these in-kind gifts.
- Volunteer program. Consider implementing a program where employees of a company volunteer their time to your organization, and each hour spent is also matched in a donation by the employer.
- Corporate sponsorships. This type of program is an official acknowledgment of the company’s relationship with your organization. This can involve them helping you sponsor regular events or programs.
These types of programs establish relationships with companies in a way that encourages future engagement. However, make sure to consider the company’s side to the partnership. A great program not only supports your organization in the long run but also benefits the company. What you offer in return are great incentives for companies to join and continue the partnership.