Online Fundraising Academy: Corporate Outreach & Relationship Building

Online Fundraising Academy: Corporate Outreach & Relationship Building

For the final session of the 2015 Online Fundraising Academy, we invited Ingrid Embree, GlobalGiving’s Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships, to join us and discuss how she identifies and builds relationships with prospective corporate partners. Ingrid has helped more than 60 different companies achieve their philanthropic objectives with GlobalGiving. She has a history of helping organizations meet their operational objectives, develop fundraising capacity, and achieve legislative victories. Check out the session summary below!

Session Recording:

Session Notes:

Tips on how to get recommended to GlobalGiving’s corporate partners

  • GlobalGiving recommends Superstars and Leaders, so the higher your partner rewards status, the better! Learn more about the Partner Rewards Program here.
  • Make sure your project list up to three themes that reflect your work! Our corporate partners are often interested in certain themes and topics, so your project will only get pulled if it includes the appropriate themes. Likewise, make sure your project title is compelling and accurately and succinctly reflects the work you’re doing! Your project title should be simple, but not confusing.

What’s Important?

  • Finding the intersection of the employee interests, the community needs, and the corporate interests.
    • Is your project meeting community needs? Are there employees who want to support your organization? Does it somehow fit with a corporation’s strategic goals?
  • Corporations do consider you, the nonprofits in the community, the subject expert and the barometer of community needs.
    • They’re interested in learning from you what the needs are, what the statistics are — they want to hear from you, and they’re relying on you to understand what’s happening in the community

“Development” is a lot like sales

  • Development takes a lot longer, but you can use lot of the same techniques as sales:

1. Research

    • It makes a big difference if you take the time to look up details of the corporation you’re interested in.
    • It can be as simple as using Google, and searching different terms:
      • “Company Name” + CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)
      • “Company Name” + Corporate Giving
      • “Company Name” + Community Involvement
      • “Company Name” + Citizenship
    • Take advantage of Google News and Google Images as other outlets of information.
      • Have there been recent layoffs? A recent merger? Are the stock prices doing really well? Who are the decision makers?

2. Commitment to Outreach

    • Set your strategy; monitor your tactics.
      • Set goals for your outreach for the week, the month, the quarter, etc. How many companies or individuals will you or your team reach out to?
      • The more people you reach out to, the more people will eventually say yes! However, don’t waste your time – make sure to do your research first to identify if the relationship would be a good fit.
    • Track your outreach!!
      • Once you commit to your outreach, be sure to keep track of who you’re contacting and their response.
    • Pivot as necessary.
      • You may have a grand outreach strategy, but be flexible if it no longer works. Be ready to change your outreach tactics if necessary.

3. Referrals

    • Warm introductions are more likely to be successful. Cold calls can work, but they’re not always preferable.
    • Utilize board members, community members, friends, and classmates to get introductions.
    • Develop trust with individuals so that they want to assist you.

4. Personalization & Layering

    • Tailored introductions – establish common ground!
    • Personalized news
    • Studies in your field
    • Good news from stakeholders
    • “I’ll be in your area…”
      • Search for companies in the area that you’ll be visiting. Do research on those companies, and then decide who to reach out to. Would they be willing to get together over coffee?
    • Be conscious not to bombard individuals with communications. As well, use a variety of outreach mechanisms.
      • Snail mail, phone calls, send program materials or photographs, etc.
  • Use trust indicators

Corporate Employee Engagement

  • Companies with engaged employees have a much higher earnings per share. Successful companies have engaged employees.
    • Thus: magnified productivity, higher retention, consumer loyalty, and profitability.
  • Cultivate employee volunteers! They’re the most trusted spokesperson of the company.
    • Edelman Trust Barometer – measures trust in companies all over the world. One of the ways to mitigate low trust in companies is to have employees be company ambassadors in the community.
    • As employee volunteerism continues to grow, think about ways to engage these employees. Many companies will only grant to organizations where their employees are involved.

There’s so much to do! How can I prioritize?

    • Focus on what you can do, on what your organization has the capacity to do!
    • Don’t spend too much time on cause marketing
      • The average Chief Marketing Officer only lasts 23 months, so there is a lot of turnover.
      • Don’t turn it down if offered, but don’t spend time cultivating marketing people.
    • Don’t spend too much time on cold proposals
      • Before you spend too much time, you must determine their interests
    • Avoid the people who say no (but keep them on your list)
      • The lukewarm introductions sometimes work (the LinkedIn types of introductions). They might say no at first, but it seems that the door is left slightly open – don’t give up in those instances. Feel free to approach them at a later date, make sure to stay on their radar so they know you’re still there. Don’t be afraid to stay in touch.
    • If there’s only one thing you do, however — commit to measurable outreach!

Q: When I call companies, I often get connected to HR or marketing. In this case, do you think focusing on employee volunteering is the better approach?

A: Absolutely! HR is looking for ways to engage their employees, so if you can figure out how to engage those employees, they often will then request that their company sponsor or support your organization. CSR/Global Citizenship and HR are merging in many companies, so the community involvement and employee engagement are very closely linked now.

Q: How can we cultivate relationships if we don’t know anyone in the company?

A: It is a challenge, however, it helps to generally start with snail mail to the person in charge of corporate giving (the decision maker). Put in a personalized note and include a photo or program materials. Let them know that you would like to talk more with them about your program, if possible tie it into that company and what the company cares about. Describe your program, explain what is different about your program and why they should care.

Q: How can I continue to engage a company without sending them a barrage of emails?

A: Send a report via snail mail — include their logo, thank them for their support. Give them a shoutout in social media. Send them pictures or a signed note from beneficiaries. Donors really can’t be thanked enough.

Q: How exactly can you measure outreach?

A: Track your outreach every week so that you ensure you’re contacting your major supporters. Have a list of organizations you will reach out to — then aggregate that outreach so you can track your activity. It really is about setting clear, specific goals and targets for yourself — maybe its reaching out via phone or email to 40 people a week — and then setting up a tracking system to measure your progress against those goals. We track prospects and opportunities from beginning to end: prospect, negotiating contract, closed “won”, closed “lost”, declined.

This post was written by Destiny Nobles, Program Team Intern.

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