Corporate Engagement Ideas
Corporate giving is no longer simply asking for a handout or sponsorship; it is now about building a sustainable and healthy strategic partnership. Companies want their donation to make an impact, but they also want the partnership to be a worthwhile investment.
Successful corporate partnerships can help your nonprofit access skills, funding, resources, and people to extend your reach and your impact and lead to real social change.
Remember, corporations and corporate foundations are run by people—and successful and healthy engagement ultimately comes down to the relationship you build with them.
Looking for some specific ways to build corporate partnership WELL? Here are five
easy tweaks to your corporate engagement plan that can help build long-lasting, healthy corporate partnerships:
Get Creative. Evaluate your resources and upcoming opportunities to see how you can best maximize a corporation’s brand. While logo placement on a gala program or slideshow is generally appreciated, get creative with the ideas you share in your sponsorship packet. Can you have one of your celebrity ambassadors do a shoutout on social media? What about a co-branded partnership? Or, how about including their corporate colors in the lighting or table decorations at your next event? And, don’t forget to create your organization’s media kit, so that the corporation can return the favor at their next company-wide event or in their newsletter!
Work Together. Our organizations are often better connected and well-resourced than we think. Identify resources within your network and how those resources can make this partnership beneficial for the corporate donor and vice-versa. This can be as simple as providing an introduction, inviting corporate donors to an organizational event or program-in-action, or including them on a committee. More importantly, when you are in conversations with your potential corporate partners, see if there are ways that you can work together to solve community challenges. A great example of this is Grameen Bank and Groupe Danone (Dannon in the US) who built a yogurt factory in Bangladesh that had a huge impact on decreasing poverty, as well as empowering women and overall economic prosperity. Not all charity-and-business partnerships will be such perfect fits, but powerful partnerships have the ability to create enormous social change.
Be Clear. It is important to have multiple clear opportunities for corporations to engage with your organization. Sponsorships are only one small (and transactional) way to engage companies. Explore as many different avenues as possible, practical, and relevant for your unique circumstances and create a one-pager or webpage to share these opportunities with prospective corporate partners. When you move beyond purely transactional partnerships, you can access a variety of benefits you otherwise wouldn’t. Some ideas to consider: volunteer opportunities, cause marketing partnerships, non-cash (in-kind) donations, percentage of sale days, joint social media promotions, board openings, employee giving.
Make It Match. Not only is it critical to be aligned with a potential corporate partner, it’s also important to promote any and all matching gift opportunities. Link to Charity Navigator’s employer match search on your giving page or online donation form, so donors can easily check to see if their company provides a match. Proactively seek out matching gifts by adding an insert or mention of matching gifts in mailed and emailed appeal letters, and make sure to remind donors about potential company matches in every thank you letter. For an added bonus, be sure to share how much matching gift donations amount to each year. Knowing gifts can go twice as far is a huge motivator for individual and corporate donors!
Have a Conversation. Just like any other relationship, communication is key. At least twice a year, make it a habit to call your corporate partner and ask how things are going for them. Your only agenda should be a genuine wellness check. Find out how business is, ask about specific employees you know by name, inquire about any changes in their corporate social responsibility mission, listen well, and offer assistance if applicable. Treat your corporate partners like your individual donors: add them to your newsletter list, remember important dates like store openings or anniversaries, and keep them updated on the impact their investments have made throughout the year.