By Rachel Cyrulnik
Much like foundation giving, corporate philanthropy is a popular wish-list item for most nonprofits. While corporate philanthropy is growing steadily each year, it currently comprises less than 5 percent of overall giving in the US. It also requires cultivation and stewardship. These factors should be considered when determining how much priority to place on corporate giving relative to other fundraising initiatives.
Corporate giving frequently revolves around strategic partnerships – where a company seeks to maximize its relationship with a nonprofit to reinforce its brand. In some instances, the corporation may choose a cause it deems important and with which it wants to associate, regardless of the connection to its own products or services.
In other cases, the prospective sponsor is seeking nonprofit partners that are related in some real way to the products and services offered by the company. I recently saw a great example of this while holiday shopping. Nautica, a brand that takes its inspiration from water, has partnered with charity:water to provide clean, safe water to people in underprivileged countries. For many Jewish causes, it can be more challenging to highlight natural relationships to mainstream, household-name brands.
In light of this challenge, leveraging personal connections with for-profit corporations becomes all the more important. Board member and lay leaders with personal relationships to prospective corporate sponsors should act as the solicitor to strengthen the ask. Vendors with whom your organization does business are another potential prospect pool.
Corporate sponsors, like all other donors, will want to get to know your cause and its impact. To best position your cause for sponsorships, begin your engagement several months before the ask and remember to steward your sponsors after they give to keep them close to your cause and informed of your work.
Rachel Cyrulnik is founder and principal of RAISE Nonprofit Advisors (RAISEAdvisors.com), a strategic development firm servicing nonprofits. Contact Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org.