How nonprofits can take advantage of corporate support, Part 2

Nonprofits seeking corporate support need to be clear in their intentions.
Date Published
12/11/2013

In the previous post, the topic of corporate sponsorships was introduced, giving an idea of the legal boundaries involved in this type of donor management. Many organizations understand the tax-free nature of corporate sponsorships is an important factor, making it imperative that nonprofits follow the guidelines established by governmental regulators. In short, the key takeaway is that nonprofit organizations must recognize the contributions of corporations or businesses in a way that shows gratitude and acknowledgement of their financial assistance.

Meanwhile, charitable groups should have a firm grasp on what they have to offer businesses and what corporate bodies can provide in return. There’s little to gain from a partnership that’s either not aligned philosophically – depending on the campaign or project – or conducted without mutual understanding of the common goal. The most important part is clear communication.

Reaching out to corporate entities
Preparation is a fundamental step when establishing a corporate sponsorship. Preliminary inquiries involve finding out when to apply for a sponsorship. In reality, this can be a lengthy process, so it’s important for fundraising professionals to first identify businesses that could match with their nonprofit mission. Subsequently, a quick visit to a corporation’s website can indicate exactly how long the group can expect to wait for a response. If your project is slated to begin within a few weeks or months, asking for corporate support in such a short period of time is going to prove difficult.

For instance, Boeing, which supports a number of nonprofit and for-profit enterprises, lets applicants know the process could take anywhere between six months and one year, according to the aviation firm’s website. What’s more, Boeing doesn’t initially accept direct applications, instead asking for letters of inquiry to help identify which nonprofit groups might be a fit for sponsorship. Understanding what a business expects from a nonprofit partner requires a fair bit of research as well. This sentiment is echoed by The Fundraising Authority, explaining nonprofit groups need to clearly communicate to a company how the sponsorship will result in greater brand awareness, sustaining marketing projects or fulfilling philanthropic initiatives.

Be as informative as possible
In fact, organizations can look at Boeing’s “letter of intent” for a corporate sponsorship as a helpful model for planning. Beyond providing the organization’s name, and other contact information, here are a few key items:

  1. Indicate what type of support is needed. In other words, will the sponsorship be a one-time event, an annual opportunity or an ongoing occasion? With this information, a business will have a better understanding of what level of involvement they’ll be expected to provide.
  2. Similarly, give a prospected beginning and end-date for the sponsorship. Most organizations will likely have a calendar for campaigns or projects, which is crucial information for a company that will prospectively sponsor them. In addition to knowing how involved the business will be, this information gives companiesĀ time to allocated their budgets and plan accordingly.
  3. Going further, it’s a good idea to provide different levels of sponsorship with corresponding dollar amounts, The Fundraising Authority suggested. With this information, a corporate enterprise can decide how much its willing to contribute. At the same time, nonprofits can build transparency in the partnership by acknowledging other companies that have pledged support. Again, this will give a businessĀ a better idea of the urgency of need for support and may sway them by seeing what others – possible competitors – have elected to contribute.

To make these steps easier, nonprofit organizations should take advantage of corporate support management tools. With this resource, groups can quickly and accurately aggregate information about potential corporate sponsors, as well as maintain a detailed history of past contributors. Once an organization has established a relationship, it can easily keep track of contracts, invoices and monitor payments.

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