Growing Corporate Income in a Smaller Charity
It can be difficult to know where to begin with corporate fundraising – but the most important thing to do is build a strong relationship.
First of all, a disclaimer. Like many of you, corporate fundraising is one element of my wider role – and I can’t claim to be anywhere near the same level as the highly experienced and dedicated corporate fundraisers I’ve met! This blog post is about what has worked for us at Fresh Start, and shares some tips for charities looking to start receiving corporate support.
A corporate supporter is the same as any individual donor – you want them to have a meaningful journey with the charity and build a strong long-term relationship. This is especially important for smaller charities with less time and resources – get a good return on this investment and keep the company involved over a number of years!
Here are Fresh Start’s dos and don’ts to building successful corporate relationships:
Do write a corporate plan
Take some time to write a short focused strategy – Fresh Start’s includes the realistic opportunities we can offer companies to support; and what we want from that support.
Don’t say yes to everything!
Support from a company is a two-way street and you need to know what you both want and can offer. Be clear with companies about the support you actually need at that time – if it’s money rather than volunteers, say so. In our experience, most companies want to make the best difference they can and so are not offended by this directness!
Do show people around
At Fresh Start we find it really helpful to invite the main contacts to our busy warehouse to show them what we do in person. Showing off your projects allows the key employees to understand what you do, first-hand. We also find if people are willing to come and visit, it usually makes for a committed partnership.
Do get to know the employees
Be as present as possible – speak at team meetings, attend their fundraisers, and keep checking in – this really helps to keep up momentum for supporting the charity and may introduce you to other staff members who have ideas about ways the company can help.
Do offer other opportunities
Our corporate employees are often interested in volunteering on our decorating service for new tenants or in our allotments. It really helps the wider staff team to understand the difference their support makes – and can lead to them raising more money! If you don’t have projects, volunteering can even include employees taking part in a bag pack or bucket collection, other very worthwhile uses of their time.
Don’t be afraid to make the ask
Be brave and ask if there’s something you need support for - the worst the company can say is no! If you want their support to continue (for example beyond a “charity of the year” partnership) then explore that openly with the key contacts. In our experience companies we have built strong relationships with want to keep up their support beyond that first year.
Do enjoy making corporate partnerships…
…and keep learning and reviewing as you go.
Jenny Baird, Fundraising Development Officer, Fresh Start
Jenny Baird has worked with Fresh Start since 2012 in a variety of roles, moving into fundraising in 2014. Her first task as a “third sector intern” was to write a corporate engagement strategy and she is pleased it is still in place and working today!