Your nonprofit is no stranger to the stress that comes with putting together a strong fundraising event. On top of brainstorming the perfect idea, assembling your fundraising team, and setting actionable goals, you also have to consider your overall budget and how much you can spend on your event.
Spend too much, and you risk missing out on a profit. Spend too little, and your event might not reach its full potential. What if there was a way to receive free fundraising dollars and support to bring your events to life?
Fortunately, corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs continue to grow in popularity, giving your nonprofit a prime opportunity to partner with a business and benefit from their philanthropic initiatives. A corporate partnership can earn your nonprofit much-needed resources to lead engaging fundraisers and build lasting relationships with donors in the process; in turn, your corporate partner will receive a boost in their reputation as a community-minded business.
To create a successful corporate partnership for your next fundraising event, leverage these top tips:
- Find the right corporate partner
- Create a compelling corporate sponsorship proposal
- Highlight key fundraising metrics
- Express appreciation
Businesses across the country are eager to support important causes, from funding charity galas to providing in-kind donations for food drives. You just need to demonstrate that your nonprofit is worthy of their support. Let’s get started!
Find the right corporate partner
Not every business will be a perfect fit for your nonprofit, so it’s important to do your research and find a company who will help you see your goals through. Consider the following questions in your search for the ideal corporate partner:
- What companies in our community have similar values or purposes and would complement our mission well?
- What companies have a similar audience base and would be a natural extension of our target audience? What companies have a mission-minded audience who would care about our cause?
- What companies already have a philanthropy program and would be interested in expanding their efforts to a nonprofit like ours? What kind of support did these companies provide and what impact have they had on their communities?
Keep in mind that the most successful corporate partnerships should benefit both parties, so it’s not only important to consider what your corporate partner can do for your nonprofit, but also what your nonprofit can do for your partner.
For example, if a prospective corporate partner is selling a product or service that would be of interest to your target audience, you can help promote it on your marketing materials in exchange for corporate sponsorships, volunteer grants, in-kind donations, or another form of critical corporate support.
Note that this kind of arrangement, often called a commercial co-venture, needs to be backed up with regulatory research and compliance as well as be registered in advance and audited. Do your research to learn more about this partnership possibility and determine if it makes sense for your nonprofit and its audience.
To kickstart your research into prospective corporate partners, ask your board members and well-connected supporters (like your major donors) for references. They may work for companies that have philanthropy programs in place and would be interested in partnering with an important cause like yours. Plus, they can help facilitate introductions with the company’s staff so you can get to know the business and their values better.
Create a compelling corporate partnership proposal
Once you’ve brainstormed a list of prospective partners, it’s time to formally reach out to them with a partnership proposal. This is your opportunity to pitch your nonprofit and show why it’s worth a company’s time and resources to back your nonprofit and its fundraising campaign or event.
In your proposal, make sure to:
- Introduce your organization and its mission: Your prospective partner might not be familiar with your mission, so sum up who your nonprofit is, the history of your founding, and your vision for the future. Use statistics to convey the impact your nonprofit has had on its community so far to legitimize your cause.
- Explain the type of support you’re seeking: Explain the type of fundraising event or campaign you’ll be hosting, your goals for this event, and what support you’re hoping to receive from a corporate partner. For example, the OneCause guide to online fundraising suggests asking businesses to lead corporate fundraising challenges and involve their employees in peer-to-peer fundraising. Or, you might ask your prospective partner for a certain amount of revenue upfront to cover the cost of reserving an event venue. Regardless of the type of support you’re seeking, be specific about your ask so your corporate partner knows exactly what they’d need to provide and can determine if it’s within their capabilities.
- Explain how this support will advance your mission: Connect the type of support you’re requesting to the impact this will have on your community. For example, let’s say your nonprofit is hosting a silent auction and needs financial support to procure items that will appeal to your audience. You can explain how the right items and packages will help your nonprofit drive a higher return on investment which will all go back toward your programs and initiatives to power good. Where possible, use statistics to help illustrate your projected impact.
- Demonstrate how this will benefit your corporate partner: After reading through your proposal, your prospective partner might be wondering “This all sounds good, but what’s in it for me?” Explain what kind of support your nonprofit can offer the company, such as including them in your marketing plan before, during, and after your event. If your nonprofit and the company have the same target audience, you can share your audience demographics and highlight how this is a prime opportunity for your company to expand its reach and earn new customers.
Along with writing a formal proposal letter, set up a meeting with a point of contact from the company to discuss this partnership in greater detail. Here, you can come to a mutually beneficial agreement and work out the specifics of your partnership.
Highlight key fundraising metrics
Once you’ve secured a corporate partner’s support, it’s important to keep them in the loop and let them know how their efforts are making a difference. Create a standard communication cadence, such as updating your corporate partner when you’ve hit the halfway point to your fundraising goal or letting them know how many attendees have registered for your event.
After your event concludes, let your corporate partner know how your fundraiser performed by sharing key data metrics, such as:
- Total donations raised (including whether or not you met your goal)
- Return on investment
- Total number of donors
- Average gift size
This will help to illustrate the impact of their support and show the tangible connection between their involvement and the difference it makes in your community. If you included your corporate partner in your marketing materials, it can also be valuable to share marketing metrics around how these materials performed.
For example, if you included a section about your corporate partner on your event landing page with a call-to-action button that takes supporters to their online store, you can highlight data points like:
- Total page views
- Time spent on page
- Click-through rate
These data points can demonstrate the marketing value in partnering with your nonprofit, allowing your corporate partner to effectively expand their reach.
Along with sharing metrics, you’ll also want to take the time to express appreciation to your corporate partner for playing such a pivotal role in your fundraiser’s success. For instance, you might:
- Write handwritten thank-you letters: A handwritten note adds a personal touch to your thank-yous and can help your corporate partner feel recognized for their efforts. For example, if several of your corporate partner’s employees participated in peer-to-peer fundraising, Fundraising Letters’ guide to volunteer thank-you letters recommends writing personalized notes that reference how much they raised and how this made an impact on your mission.
- Shout-out your corporate partner during your event: Marketing doesn’t just take place before your fundraiser! Give a shout-out to your corporate partner during your event for everyone to hear; this will automatically increase your partner’s brand visibility and connect their business with your cause, boosting their philanthropic reputation. As a result, they’ll be more likely to secure new customers.
- Share a video about your corporate partner on social media: Film a short sit-down interview with your corporate partner’s founder and shine a light on how they’ve played an important role in your nonprofit’s success. Make sure to tag their social media account in the caption or share a link to their website to expand their reach.
A strong recognition strategy can help you retain your corporate partner’s support for the future, empowering you to meet and exceed your fundraising goals for future campaigns and events. After your fundraiser concludes and you’ve expressed heartfelt gratitude, give your corporate partner a heads-up about the next fundraiser you’re planning to host and see if they’d be interested in extending their support again.
The right corporate partner can help you take your fundraising strategy to the next level and secure meaningful support to power change. Make sure to evaluate the success of your corporate partnership by tracking fundraising metrics with the help of a comprehensive fundraising solution. This way, you can ensure you’re deriving as much value as possible from this partnership or make adjustments as needed to optimize your agreement.