Realising our potential – growth strategies for corporate fundraising

Realising our potential – growth strategies for corporate fundraising

Jenni Anderson | 14 January 2016

How many times have you been asked to analyse the ‘potential’ of your market? A word that often fits snugly alongside ‘sustainable’ and ‘long-term’ in business plans. If something has potential, we should do it, right?

However, the general consensus is that the charity-business partnership market does have potential and is growing. 

A recent ‘state of the nation’ report from Good Values (2015) suggests that corporate fundraising (CF) is indeed high on fundraisers’ agendas. 95% of respondents optimistically agreed that it has room to grow, with charities reporting a consistent increase of around 12% per year on average from businesses over the last three financial years. 

But with only two per cent of the sector’s total income coming from business (Good Values, 2015) it seems a no-brainer that charities should focus on increasing their market share with corporates - there are over 3.3m registered companies in the UK after all (Companies House, 2015).

In practice, however, winning and retaining corporate partnerships continues to be quite a hard slog. To (mis)quote Tom Hanks, ‘If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it’. 

And competition is fierce. 

You’re elated when your charity is chosen against equally worthy other causes in a staff vote and distraught when your most-enthusiastic charity champion and internal ambassador moves to a rival firm. 

More and more companies are partnering with the only the ‘safest of charities’ (Saxton, 2015) which makes the transformational, charity of the year partnerships out-of-reach for smaller, relatively unknown, charity brands.

As fundraisers, it’s not really in our nature to just give up when challenged - we tend to sit on the glass half-full side of the bar. 

And despite what you might read in the sector press wrap-ups of who’s won what, the Good Values report also found that only seven per cent of respondents felt that their CF programme was ‘fully developed’. 

So how can we grow our corporate fundraising and tap into those 3.3m businesses? 

When looking at growth or ‘potential’, one of my favourite tools to use is the Ansoff matrix, developed by H. Igor Ansoff and first published in 1957. 

The matrix offers four quadrants to analyse your ‘product’ [insert corporate fundraising programme/offer here] against four growth strategies and the risks associated with each one.

Ansoff matrix  

Let’s take each one with a CF slant. 

Market penetration is where you focus on expanding ‘sales’ of your existing product in your existing market. 

For Haven House, market penetration is a relevant strategy as to how we grow our local business programme, Mission365. This is where companies located close to the hospice are supported to raise enough to pay for a night of care. We know there are many more businesses in our area that could join the scheme. The risk here is that you may at some point reach saturation point in your market.  

Other examples of this scheme include The Business Club at Martin House Children’s Hospice.


Product development is about introducing a new idea into your existing market. 

Taking the same example, this may be where we ask a local business who is a Mission365 partner to sponsor an event. This is more risky as our current partners may not be ready to take this step, or we may not have done enough to convince them to do something different with us.


Market development is taking something you do well already, but moving it into a completely new market. 

Look across your entire fundraising mix. You might have a good track record of delivering challenge events. For example, offering a great event experience to community groups or individual donors. While this ‘product’ is more likely to be managed in a different team, could you work collaboratively to offer it to companies as a way-in?

On the flip side are there features of your corporate programme that could support other areas of your work?

Within the hospice sector, apprentice-style challenges and retail volunteering days are becoming increasingly popular with corporate teams. Not only do they offer a team-building day with friendly competition, they also have a positive impact on donations and sales and help to address misperceptions of hospices and charity shops.

Diversification is about doing things differently. It is the riskiest of the four options as you will be attempting to introduce a new idea into a market you have no prior knowledge of. While risky it can also be the most exciting.

One example of this is the BlackRock COTY partnership with Children’s Hospices across London. This is where the five children’s hospices in London came together for the first time to pitch, win and deliver a corporate partnership with a firm that would have normally been outside our individual reach.

Saxton (2015) suggests that new partnership models are required to stop the sector from becoming bland. ‘Mash-ups’ between charities, companies and government agencies could offer a different approach. One recent example of this is The Scout Association’s, A Million Hands campaign. 

Diversification, of course, may just mean introducing a corporate fundraising approach for the first time to your income mix. 

I’d argue that to stay ahead and be competitive then perhaps diversification should be the growth strategy that’s discussed first, not last. Will doing more of the same realise our potential and result in the transformational income growth that we are often asked to deliver? 


Jenni Anderson Haven HouseJenni Anderson, Director of Income Generation & Marketing, Haven House Children’s Hospice

Jenni will be speaking at the IoF Fundraising for Hospices conference in London on 25 January 2016. 


  • Companies House (2015) Statistical release: Incorporated companies in the United Kingdom — November 2015
  • Guide to using Ansoff (and image taken from Mindtools)
  • IoF & Good Values: Corporate Fundraising - A snapshot of current practice in the UK non-profit sector, 2015 - downloadable here
  • Tom Hanks - ‘A League of Their Own’
  • Saxton, J (2015) In Good Company - Taking corporate partnerships into new dimensions (



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