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An Introduction to Corporate Fundraising - timing, audience, relevance, synergy!

An introduction to corporate fundraising

This article will set out some thoughts on Corporate Fundraising. How charities can benefit from working with companies varies tremendously and has very much changed over the years. Based on our experiences of working with charities in the fundraising sector in the last 20 years, we have gained some valuable tips and we hope you find these helpful.

Have a flexible approach

There are a whole range or companies from big national organisations, such as banks and high street names, to small local companies such as solicitors or your own suppliers. They will all operate in different ways and therefore a range of offers is needed when initiating approaches.

Unlike trusts and foundations, which exist to give away money, the primary aim of a company is to generate profits through sales of products and services. Therefore, working with a charity has to fit in with and be beneficial to it as a business.

Be Relevant. Be Strategic.

As the charitable sector has become ever more competitive, with over 200,000 charities currently registered in the UK, companies have had to devise policies for managing the many approaches they receive from different causes on a daily basis. It may still be possible to write a letter or send an email and receive a donation, but these days "corporate fundraising" needs to be much more strategic to maximise the opportunities for success.

Some strategies that could work for you…

Companies will have a range of motives behind their charitable giving decisions which inform their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies.

Larger companies commonly have their own foundations, which have a pot of money that can be applied for if your charity fits their CSR agenda. For example, companies may have environmental issues high on their giving agenda because this fits in with their aims to reduce CO2 emissions and be perceived as "green" & ethical by consumers and stakeholders.

Others may have more general CSR criteria for supporting the communities in which they work. Doing the ground work to research a company's CSR aims is key to a successful application. There are deadlines to apply for grants each year, so a cycle of researched companies should be planned into your fundraising calendar so that timely applications can be made.

Like trusts, there will be strict criteria and evidence of impact to produce as part of the application and reporting process.

Partnership

Companies may wish to partner with charities to build and improve employee engagement. Many regional medium sized companies and larger national companies choose a charity of the year and some have a national and a regional charity. Often, a short-list of charities is put to a staff vote. Staff will then fundraise for the chosen charity and companies may match fund and promote payroll giving.

Charity of the Year partnerships can be very rewarding, but require a significant commitment in terms of creativity, event planning and account management to ensure there are a range of fundraising activities for staff to compete in and staff are kept motivated throughout the year. Ample lead time and planning are essential.

Sponsorship

Corporate sponsorship is also an excellent way for companies to raise awareness of their brand via naming rights for tangible assets or programmes and projects. Sponsorship success will be driven by a company's desire to be associated with a charity that reflects its brand values and shares its customer target market.

The company will achieve kudos from being linked to the charity and this can be a high-profile way for them to differentiate themselves from the competition and maximise public engagement through brand visibility on social media and at events.

Sponsorship decision making will usually sit within the Marketing team and can take a lead time of six to twelve months to fit in with budget planning of marketing resources.

Charities should be aware that if the company receives a significant benefit, such as having their logo displayed at an event, VAT will need to be charged and any agreements need to allow for this. Licensing and on-pack promotions can also fall into this bracket.

Relationship

Companies can also support charities in more holistic ways, wanting to have a real partnership - a relationship that is mutually beneficial and longer lasting than transactional sponsorship. Corporate partnerships can take the form of a membership or special relationship which encompasses several of the fundraising activities mentioned above, as well as developing personal relationships with decision makers and staff.

Often, these relationships are about more than an exchange of money and there are countless occasions companies want to gift skills, resources, and volunteer time in a joint effort to solve a problem together. These sorts of partnerships are typically more long-term and strategic and will have measurable outcomes for both the company and the charity.

Competition

Changing environmental, economic and political factors in the climate companies operate, will always be an enormous influence on business decision making, so being able to keep your offer competitive will help.

The return on investment can vary greatly - staff resources need to be carefully factored in because partnerships can be time-consuming.

No matter what size your charity, focus on what you can do really well and think about your natural audience and that of the companies you want to work with.

Synergy should be at the heart of your planning & execution of your fundraising activities.

For more information about how we can assist your charity to make the most of fundraising from business please contact us today on
01785 663600 for a free chat.

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