Companies That Will Grant Your Donations Request Letter: Key Strategies to Unlock Corporate Generosity and Fulfill Your Donation Request

Companies That Will Grant Your Donations Request Letter: Key Strategies to Unlock Corporate Generosity and Fulfill Your Donation Request

When you start looking for donors to support your nonprofit organization, it's natural to gravitate toward members of your community. These supporters are often the ones who will benefit directly from your nonprofit programs, so it makes sense to secure their financial support.

But there's another source of nonprofit support that your organization should look into immediately: corporate giving. More and more, companies that your supporters work for are recognizing their obligation to help create a better society by engaging in corporate philanthropy. And because corporate philanthropy is supported by the considerable resources of the company, corporations are often in a much better position to provide grants, donations, and other monetary aid to your nonprofit organization.

This type of assistance can often go beyond basic financial support too. While many companies offer generous monetary donations through matching gift programs and grants, corporate philanthropy can also support nonprofits by requiring employees to engage in volunteerism or supplying in-kind donations that provide the manpower and supplies required for both your nonprofit programs and your fundraising galas.

The great part about corporate giving benefits is that they end up helping everyone. While your nonprofit will receive financial and volunteer support from a company, the company supporting you will also gain a lot of goodwill from both its employees and its customers. People will recognize that the company is civic-minded and supports the causes they care about. This helps companies recruit more valuable employees and attract more loyal clients. 

Let's take a closer look at how leveraging corporate philanthropy can work for your nonprofit organization. We'll examine how to choose the right companies for your specific nonprofit, write effective donation letters, engage in good follow-up strategies, and ultimately build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with corporations. We'll also take some time to see which specific companies have strong philanthropy programs that can benefit your organization with their donations and how fundraising software like PayBee can provide an extra edge when approaching these companies.

Choosing Companies That Will Grant Your Donation Request

How should you go about selecting corporate donors that can support your nonprofit? The first thing you should check is if that company's philanthropic strategies align with your nonprofit's goals.

This is important for several reasons. First, the closer a company's charitable goals match your nonprofit's, the more likely you'll be able to secure their support. A company that wants to benefit the same geographic area and/or population your programs are for could be very interested in providing grants and other financial support if you're able to share stories and statistics that show how your efforts are helping this population.

In addition, targeting companies that offer products or services related to your goals will be in a much better position to offer in-kind donations and practical support for your efforts. For instance, if some of your programs focus on providing warm clothing to the homeless during the winter or offering back-to-school clothes for low-income families, partnering with a clothing company could be a great way to provide you with the supplies you need -- and offer the corporation excellent publicity for its philanthropic efforts.

Finally, partnering with companies that employ workers who are already part of your support network provides the perfect foundation for building a meaningful and ideally long-term relationship with the company. Workers who are already passionate about your cause (and ideally your nonprofit) will advocate for your organization and motivate others to volunteer for your programs. This in turn helps build a more positive work environment for the company as the workers see themselves as an integral part of the greater community and can lead to better employee retention for your corporate partner. 

When researching potential companies to support your nonprofit, start by looking at their website. Learn if they have existing philanthropic programs and have supported other charitable groups in the past. If so, what type of organizations do they have a history of supporting? Schools? Environmental groups? Animal rights charities? If any of their interests match up with your efforts, be sure to mention this in your pitch to show you share similar interests and values.

Likewise, see what type of scale their giving programs take. Are they more interested in providing support for local programs or are they more intent on sponsoring national or even international-based charities? Which of these programs aligns more with your nonprofit? Knowing how a company's philanthropic programs work can help save you valuable time in knowing which corporate sponsors would be interested in supporting your own charitable efforts, and which might not. 

Finally, it can be useful to turn to your existing support network and see if you already have some volunteers and donors who work for companies with a philanthropic program that aligns with your nonprofit's goals and values. Not only can you uncover a potentially long-term supporter, you'll have contacts that can help facilitate introductions with their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) department or possibly the CEO. Having this personal connection can go a long way in building mutually beneficial partnerships between nonprofits and corporate sponsors.

Below, we'll take a closer look at some well-known companies that have offered generous support to nonprofits in the past. Keep in mind, however, that while it's always a good idea to request assistance from these big-name companies (due to brand recognition and large amount of resources) smaller and more local corporations can also be quite generous to nonprofits and charities.  

Case Studies: Companies Known for Their Generosity 

How impactful can companies that donate to nonprofits be for a nonprofit's programs? The corporate donors case studies below examine how organizations with strong philanthropy programs can respond to donation requests and make substantial donations for nonprofits and their communities. 


As an American multinational corporation that focuses on online advertising, computer software, cloud computing, e-commerce, and search engine technology, Google had a wealth of tools available to help organizations communicate and function more effectively. Google for Nonprofits, a program dedicated specifically to supporting nonprofits, makes these tools available to nonprofits to help groups like yours make even greater impacts on their communities.

Currently available in over 65 countries, Google for Nonprofits offers multiple online tools to eligible nonprofits for no charge, including:

  • Google Workspace for Nonprofits is a cloud-based productivity suite that allows volunteers, supporters, and community members to stay in touch via unlimited email addresses on gmail, organize schedules via Google Calendar, video conference with Google Meet, and create and edit grant proposals with Google Docs.
  • Google Ad Grants offers up to $10,000 a month in text-based ads on Google search. This helps nonprofits raise awareness of their mission and convert Google users into supporters of their mission.
  • YouTube Nonprofit Program connects nonprofits with supporters, volunteers, and donors via YouTube videos that educate viewers about their cause and make it easier to donate.
  • Google Maps Platform not only helps nonprofits share their programs and resources with their community but also helps build data visualizations to track the impact of their programs.

Action for Hunger, a global humanitarian organization dedicated to fighting malnutrition and hunger for children and families around the world was able to use the tools provided by Google for Nonprofits to enhance its fundraising efforts. Through Ad Grants, the nonprofit was able to educate people about famine in South Sudan and convert them into supporters of their cause. The text-based ads ended up attracting 158,000 people to the Action for Hunger website within a year and helped raise over $66,000. Likewise, the YouTube website referrals generated through the YouTube Nonprofit Program raised an additional $20,000+ in funding.

Google for Nonprofits was able to benefit Action for Hunger in other ways as well. Initially, the nonprofit used decentralized communication tools, which made it difficult for different team members to contact each other since everyone needed to upload different apps or programs. Now that they have access to Google Workspace for Nonprofits, however, the teams can maintain communication more effectively, even during disasters that would otherwise shut off their servers' power. All this provides an excellent communication foundation that allows them to focus less on their technical issues and more on their main mission of combating malnutrition. 


Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers several grants for eligible nonprofits interested in enhancing their organizations with different types of technology. These grants include:

  • The Pathfinder - Generative AI Award supports mission-critical projects for US nonprofits that use generative AI. This grant offers up to $200,000 USD of unrestricted financial support as well as up to $100,000 in AWS promotional credit. The AWS Generative AI Innovation Center will be available to provide project implementation support and team members will have access to AWS training and support as well as an opportunity for AWS marketing promotion.
  • The Go Further Faster Award is offered for nonprofits in the US, UK, and Ireland. This grant is aimed at groups that want to leverage cloud services such as AI, machine learning, high performance computing, Internet of Things, and more. In the US, recipients receive up to $150,000 USD in unrestricted financial support and up to $100,000 in AWS promotional credit along with training, support, and possible marketing promotion from AWS. In the UK and Ireland, recipients receive up to $50,000 USD in unrestricted financial support, up to $16,000 in AWS promotional credit, implementation support, and an opportunity for AWS marketing promotion.
  • The Momentum to Modernize Award provides funding for transforming nonprofit technological infrastructure, including modernizing new and existing applications and migrating servers to the cloud. The grant comes with up to $50,000 USD unrestricted financial support, up to $20,000 in AWS promotional credit, training/support, implementation guidance, and possible marketing promotion from AWS.

Save the Children, an international non-governmental organization dedicated to improving children's lives, received an AWS grant and used it to improve its ability to provide parents, teachers, and public officials with access to information on how to keep children safe during a crisis. By using AI, a data lake, and machine learning, the organization built the Save the Children App which can deliver insights on various crisis responses, based on Save the Children's 100 years of experience, in the user's native language. Using Amazon technology to enhance its communication capabilities helps further Save the Children's mission of being an effective humanitarian response organization.  


Microsoft offers grants and discounts on its online tools not only for big nonprofits with large-scale missions but small nonprofits as well. Realizing that small and very small (under 10 employees) nonprofits were interested in transitioning their online applications to the cloud and working in a remote or hybrid environment (particularly in the post-pandemic world), Microsoft offered technology grants to make this possible.

The grants and discounts include a Microsoft 365 Business Premium Grant that provides email, Microsoft Office desktop applications, cloud file-storage/sharing, advanced security features, and access to meetings, calls and collaboration via Microsoft Teams. The grant is offered for free for up to 10 users and offers discounted pricing for additional staff. Microsoft also offers an Azure grant that offers $2000 USD Azure service credits a year, enabling access to the complete Azure products and cloud services. These grants help reduce IT costs while increasing organizational efficiency by improving communication and online collaboration.

Team Rubicon is one organization that is using Azure to better track and manage the efforts of its volunteers. The nonprofit brings together military veterans to help rebuild disaster-devastated communities. Although they have a large volunteer staff, miscommunication can cause inefficiency by making their management teams accidentally duplicate resources and deploying the wrong people to critical areas. Azure helps eliminate this by providing a clearer picture of given resources and also leverages AI to help build more customized teams that are better prepared to deal with situations quickly and efficiently.

Writing Effective Letters

How should you approach a potential corporate sponsor for grants, donations, and other support? Knowing how to write compelling donation letters is a key skill your event staff needs to master in order to secure financial support or in-kind donations. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to craft a winning donation request letter aimed at corporate sponsors:

Be clear on how you're going to deliver the letter

These days, people communicate in many different ways from email to direct mail to personalized eCards. Each has its advantages, but you should know what your delivery method will be in advance so you can tailor your communication appropriately. Consider:

  • Emails are considered a professional form of communication and can be electronically tracked to measure the success of your letter campaign. To ensure that the recipients open your emails, however, take time to write compelling subject lines that communicate your intent while showing the benefit of donating to your nonprofit. You can also target your emails to different donor segments, allowing you to tailor individual emails to companies based on their interests and history with your nonprofit. Done correctly, an emailed donation request will facilitate regular communication, leading to a long-term donor relationship. 
  • Direct mail offers a more personal touch as it communicates that you spent more time crafting your request by sending a physical copy. Using professional letter head and personalized content that indicates you've researched the company's philanthropy programs and areas of interest helps facilitate this. Some nonprofits also like sending booklets and reports (which you can also offer electronically) that reveal the impact of your nonprofit programs and how they line up with your prospective corporate sponsor's own history of philanthropy.
  • eCards can include images, graphics and video clips that are visually appealing and communicate your nonprofit's mission and impact. They can also be very cost-effective and offer opportunities to personalize your content to a corporation's interests.

Personalize your content

When crafting your letter, be sure to do your research. Your letter must not only speak directly to its recipient but also educate them about your mission, your achievements, your specific needs, how companies can contribute, and the benefits of donating to your organization. Be sure to:

  • Address your letter to the right person: Don't just address your letter to the company or foundation. Learn the preferred name of the CEO, business owner, foundation head, or whoever manages their philanthropy programs. Be sure to spell their name correctly!
  • Use storytelling: Donation requests should be succinct, but they also need to create emotional impact. Do this by sharing your mission as a compelling story. For instance, a nonprofit dedicated to helping animals might share a brief, one-to-two sentence story about how your programs saved the life of an injured dog that was later successfully adopted. This could serve as a springboard to explain the purpose of your nonprofit, the impact it's had on your community, and the work that still lies ahead.
  • Include visuals: Sharing photos or videos of your nonprofit's accomplishments can be more memorable than anything you can write. Be sure the visuals you choose communicate why a corporation should donate to your nonprofit.
  • Clarify your request: Be very clear on what you're asking from the company. How much money are you seeking if you need financial support? Are you seeking an in-kind donation for your programs (i.e. medical equipment, computers)? Or are you interested in developing a matching funds program with the company for your next fundraiser? Remember -- corporations have more resources to offer than most individual donors, and the better you communicate your needs, the easier it'll be for them to contribute properly to your cause.
  • Show the impact of donating: Beyond clarifying your request, communicate how a corporation's support will impact the community. Explain how a monetary donation will translate into months of food for animals or vaccinations for a whole school of children in need. Sharing the real-world impact provides greater incentive to donate.  
  • Share the benefits of working with your nonprofit: It's always good to show how working with your nonprofit benefits your corporate partners. Explain how your fundraisers can promote the company's name in its marketing materials and gala. Share how you'll thank them for their support during TV coverage of your event or via social media and live streaming.
  • Include a call to action: After providing motivation to donate, make contributing easy. Include links to your donation page, QR codes, or an offer to set up a meeting to discuss a more in-depth partnership. Make sure to provide your contact information to get future conversations rolling.

If you're still unsure about how to shape your content, consider using a template. There are multiple templates for donation letters that offer ways to phrase your request to individuals, companies, and community organizations as well as templates for specific donation requests such as grants, matching gift programs, and in-kind donations.

Time your letter writing campaigns

Knowing when to send your requests is often as important as knowing what to say in them. Many nonprofits submit letters during November and December (the months of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Giving Tuesday) to take advantage of the increased seasonal generosity.

On the other hand, it's possible that sending donation requests during the holidays could mean your letter gets lost in the deluge of other donation requests. In this case, it could be beneficial to wait for slower times when your letter can be read more carefully by a CEO or manager who will have the time to respond to your request and form a partnership. Both approaches can work, so it's a good idea to send letters at multiple set points in the year. Just make sure you keep accurate records of when you sent your correspondence to and who you sent it to, so you can follow-up properly when the time comes. 

Corporate Charitable Giving Policies and What They Mean

Corporate charitable giving policies outline how a company engages in philanthropy. A thorough giving policy outlines what types of nonprofits are eligible for donations or grants, how the company processes donation requests, how a nonprofit should make requests, and what type of nonprofits might be excluded from a company's philanthropy programs. For instance many organizations only contribute to registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations while others exclude religious or political organizations.

A detailed corporate charitable giving policy can also specify the types of philanthropic activities a company will engage in. Common types of corporate giving listed in a policy might include:

  • Matching gift programs: Matching gifts allow an employee of the company to request that their contribution to a nonprofit be matched by their employer. This is a great way to increase donor revenue, but the nonprofit has to meet the eligibility criteria for the matching gift program. Such criteria should be detailed in the corporate giving policy.
  • Community grants: These grants are usually aimed at local nonprofits seeking financial assistance. The corporate giving policy will outline eligibility requirements and how to apply for such a grant.
  • Volunteer grant program: These grants provide financial support based on how many hours a company's employees volunteer at an eligible nonprofit organization. If your nonprofit has a lot of volunteers who work for the company, or if you can host an event that attracts volunteer support from local companies, this grant can greatly increase your donor revenue.
  • Fundraising matches: Similar to matching gift programs, this policy allows organizations to match the funds raised by their employees for a nonprofit during a fundraising event, like a dance-a-thon where participants collect pledges from family and friends to support a cause. A fundraising match would then allow a company to double this support, so you should definitely request this option if you discover your nonprofit is eligible.
  • Sponsorships: This outlines who to contact and how to apply for a company sponsorship. Sponsors are invaluable sources of support, especially during fundraisers where they can provide financial support or in-kind donations, so knowing how to approach a company for a sponsorship is very useful.
  • Automatic payroll deductions: This form of corporate giving is aimed at a company's employees who can request to have a portion of their pay automatically taken from their paychecks and delivered to a nonprofit. This provides your group with a regular stream (or streams) of income, so it literally pays to show your supporters the benefits of regularly contributing to your cause. 

Beyond all this, a corporate charitable giving policy can clarify what causes it seeks to support (animal rights, child welfare, education etc.). If you see your cause(s) listed in the policy, this could be a clear indication that the company should be on your list of potential corporate sponsors. 

Corporate charitable giving policies make it easier for nonprofit organizations to decode corporate philanthropy and navigate corporate giving policies. As such, a corporate giving policy should be one of the first things your team researches before asking companies to donate.

That said, while some companies like Starbucks or Verizon offer very detailed policies, other organizations may provide just a few paragraphs on their website outlining their charitable giving policy. Some of this information may also be provided on their frequently asked questions page, while certain corporate policies might be intended for their employees, so you may need to do some digging before uncovering a company's giving policies.    

Maximizing Follow-Up Strategies 

Sending a donation request to a company shouldn't be the end of your attempt to secure corporate support. Regular follow-up communication is key to building good relationships with your corporate sponsors and keeping them engaged in your nonprofit activities. Keep the following follow-up techniques in mind:

Follow-up on unanswered requests

Companies receive a lot of requests from nonprofits and charities asking for support. So, it's understandable if your request got lost in the shuffle, particularly if you approached them at a busy time (like during the holidays).

Thus, it's helpful to follow-up on requests if you haven't heard back from the company in a few days. Call or email your original contact person and remind them of your previous interactions. Offer any new information about your nonprofit and upcoming events and programs that you think they might find interesting. Suggest a future face-to-face meeting at their earliest convenience. 

Be clear on what you hope to accomplish, but don't be pushy. Remember: your goal is to build a long-term, mutually beneficial partnership, not just solicit a single contribution. Maintaining a friendly tone and showing that you'd like them to be an active part of your mission helps establish this.

Send thank you notes and updates

Your communication with a corporate partner shouldn't end once you receive a grant or other financial gift from them. Immediately after receiving their support, send a thank you email, card, and/or phone call to let them know how much you appreciate their gift. While some of these thank you notes can be sent automatically (and should include a receipt of their contribution for their records), additional thank you notes should be more personalized to show you recognize these companies are providing you with much-needed support.

Send updates that show the impact of your donors' contributions. Many companies contribute financially after your initial letter revealed how their money could benefit the community. Keep up with this by sharing success stories from your programs and offer statistics for how your work is making a meaningful change. Then relate all this to the company's contribution, emphasizing that much of this positive impact is thanks to them.

Include a call to action on all your follow up messages

As always, all your communications with your corporate sponsors should include a call to action (CTA) to keep them involved in your organization.

However, this does not mean you need to ask them for more money. Just let your partners know how they can keep being an active part of your nonprofit's efforts. Some good CTAs might ask your contact to:

  • Promote your nonprofit and/or upcoming event on their social media channels
  • Attend an upcoming event hosted by your nonprofit
  • Speak at an upcoming fundraiser as an honored guest
  • Offer feedback on your programs and activities 

Naturally, you'll eventually want to make additional donation requests in your follow up emails and letters. However, by taking the time to show you're interested in forming a personal relationship with your corporate sponsor and make them an integral part of your nonprofit activities, the odds of a company offering additional, regular support for your programs increases.

Building Long-Term Partnerships with Corporate Donors

What other strategies can nonprofits use to maintain and nurture positive relationships with corporate donors? How else can you build a good relationship that results in sustained support?

When nurturing donor relationships, it's helpful to look at long-term donor engagement strategies. These go beyond just sending an email or making a phone call every now and then. Instead, you'll want to ensure your corporate donors enjoy a good experience with your team every time you interact. Whenever you meet with your donors, be sure to:

Communicate openly and honestly about your nonprofit

It goes without saying that you need to be honest with your donors about what you need from them and how you're spending or using their donations. But fully-engaged donors want to know even more about your nonprofit and your activities.

Be open about the challenges you're facing. This includes challenges related to your mission (an increased school drop out rate, food shortages, higher homeless pet population etc.) and your internal challenges (perhaps a long-time board member just stepped down or you lost a major sponsor). Keeping your supporters well-informed about both your successes and any issues that arise with your nonprofit helps them understand how their support will benefit your organization.

Be responsive

We've already discussed the importance of sending follow-up messages and thank you notes. However, it's also important to keep the lines of communication regularly open between your corporate supporters and your nonprofit and let them know they can contact you. Make it clear that you're always available to answer any questions, listen to any suggestions, or hear any concerns your partner organizations might have. 

Let your supporters know any concerns they have are being addressed. Thank them for taking the time to offer feedback. And make sure to follow-up with impact reports, event invitations, and galas where they can see their communication has helped shape your activities in a meaningful way. 

Keep your commitments 

Donors know that they're contributing to nonprofits to help them overcome key challenges. Show them that you're using their donations to meet those challenges by offering regular reports that show your dedication to your commitments. Report on how your budget (and their monetary support) is being allocated to benefit different segments of the community. If you promised to make their in-kind donations a vital part of your fundraiser or community event, record how they were used and let your supporters know the impact of their contributions.

Keep an eye on your long-term goals. If you can show your regular donors how their support has been making tangible differences in the community as they relate to your mission, then they'll be motivated to keep donating as long as they feel they're dealing with a reputable nonprofit.  

Provide face-to-face encounters

While your initial interactions with a corporate sponsor might be over email or text, this shouldn't be the only place where you communicate. Invite your supporters to fundraising events, team meetings, and lunches. Let them see and interact with your event team, staff, and volunteers. Chat with them in person and spend time actively socializing. Remember: the more your donors and supporters see your organization as a group of dedicated human beings, the more likely they'll be to form an emotional connection with your nonprofit and continue to provide regular support. 

Offer visits to your programs

What better way is there to understand the impact of your work than by seeing it in action? Smart nonprofits invite their donors and sponsors to regularly visit their programs and see first-hand how their financial support and in-kind donations are impacting their community. These don't have to be major events but informal visits where donors are invited to tour your facilities, chat with your staff, and even take part in activities with community members. Seeing first-hand how their donations are being used and impacting others is an excellent way for donors to gain trust in the nonprofits they support and to provide continuing contributions.

Keep donors aware of the impact they're making. Create an annual impact report full of stories of those who benefited from your donors' gifts and financial support. Include photos, personal testimonials, and statistics related to donor contributions and send these reports to your supporters via newsletters and email.

Recognize your donors, supporters, and sponsors

Recognizing your corporate donors is something you should constantly do in your events and activities. This can be accomplished in both big and small ways.

For instance, many businesses appreciate the publicity that comes from being associated with a reputable nonprofit and the way it improves their brand image as a socially responsible company. Make sure they get this publicity by acknowledging their support on your websites, marketing materials, and fundraiser decor. Mention them if you get news coverage during your galas and community events and invite them to make an appearance if appropriate.

Invite your business partners to an end-of-the-year awards ceremony where you can offer them certificates and plaques showing your appreciation of their continued support. If you have the ability, some nonprofits name rooms, buildings, benches, parks, and other community spaces after their major donors.

Of course, recognition doesn't always have to be associated with a lot of pomp and circumstance. Sometimes, a simple handwritten thank-you card or a few words of genuine thanks can do more to reach a donor than the most elaborate ceremony. By showing your donors that you're aware and grateful for their contributions, you make them feel they're part of your team -- which makes them want to continue donating.  

Provide regular personalized experiences

The more you show you can recognize corporate donors as people and not just sources of financial support, the more these companies view themselves as partners in your mission and see their support as something they need to provide.

One great way to do this is to personalize all your interactions with your donors. Address them by name in all your emails. Mention past interactions in phone or face-to-face conversations. Use their favorite colors in the decor of their tables at fundraising events and ensure their meals take any dietary restrictions and personal preferences into account.

Sound complicated? Not with today's online fundraising tools for nonprofits. Great customer relationship management (CRM) software and a fundraising platform like PayBee's provide ways to manage your guest list at fundraisers and make your donors' names, interests, and other personal information available to you when you need it the most. PayBee understands that today's fundraisers are as much about retaining donors as they are about attracting new ones, so we've designed our tools to fit all your needs.

But don't just take our word for it. Sign up for a free demonstration of PayBee's online fundraising platform and experience your next gala from the point of view of your donors. You'll be able to see how intuitive our software is for even new users and take part in a mock fundraising auction designed to show how engaging virtual and hybrid galas can be with our technology.

Like members of any good events team, you likely have plenty of questions about our software, so our free demo also puts you in touch with our team of experts who can provide you with detailed information about your tools. See how you can use PayBee to build long-lasting relationships with corporate donors who can help keep your programs well-funded and further your nonprofit's mission. Sign up for a free demo today!   

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can a small nonprofit successfully secure donations from large corporations and if so, how?

Yes, but much of this depends on if you already have a good relationship with the corporation. In other words, it's not enough to simply send an email or make a phone call and hope for the best -- you need to put a lot of work into successfully making contact and building a working relationship with a company.

Start by researching the corporation to see if they have a history of contributing to local or smaller nonprofits, or if their philanthropy is limited to big charities. See if the causes they're donating to match yours. If they look like a potentially good fit, learn who makes sponsorship and philanthropy-related decisions in a company. This might be the CEO, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) department head, or an executive manager.

Network with these individuals. Connect with them on LinkedIn, attend industry conferences, or take part in corporate social responsibility forums where they're known to share their views and interact with people. Listen to what they have to say, comment on their insights, and see where your nonprofit might be able to establish a mutually beneficial partnership.

Other options for connecting with companies include volunteering in their company initiatives (letting you meet with their decision makers) or inviting a representative of the company to speak at your nonprofit's event. Both of these strategies enable a relationship to build organically.

Once you've established a good level of rapport, introduce your nonprofit through a succinct and compelling narrative that shows the impact of your work and your need for corporate sponsorship. Use storytelling to establish emotional connection and suggest ways (grants, matching gift programs, in-kind donations) that the corporation can contribute to further their philanthropy goals while also helping with your mission.  

Which companies are more likely to grant donations to small nonprofits?

While many corporations are known for granting large donations to large, well-known nonprofits, certain organizations have programs specifically designed for small nonprofits.

Ben & Jerry's Foundation, for instance, has a National Grassroots Organizing Program that provides general operating support grants of up to $30,000 each year (for two years) to small US constituent-led grassroots organizations with budgets under $350,000. In addition, the Foundation's Vermont Community Action Teams offer small grants (under $2000) every month to community-based Vermont nonprofits.

If a company is based within your state and/or city and believes in CSR, it's possible they'll be more open to supporting local nonprofits and providing financial support. Study their websites to see if they have philanthropy programs aimed at small nonprofits. If their past grants show they have a history of donating to causes similar to yours and you can make a good case for your nonprofit, they could be worth approaching.

How important is it to have personal contacts within the company when asking for their support?

Extremely. While you can certainly apply for grants from large companies like Google, Apple, or Amazon without knowing anyone at the corporation, you'll be competing against hundreds or even thousands of other applicants whose missions may match up with the company's philanthropic goals better than yours.

On the other hand, if you already have established connections with key organizations, getting a meeting with decision makers and standing out from other nonprofits is much easier. Your contacts can attend or even speak at your events, see the impact of your programs first-hand, and help make the case for supporting your nonprofit to the company.   

If you don't already have personal contacts, it's still possible to build relationships with companies. Just be prepared to put in plenty of legwork, as the time spent researching companies and potential contacts, not to mention making your case for your nonprofit and asking for support, can be extensive. Once you develop this relationship, however, getting corporate support for your nonprofit can be a lot easier moving forward. 

What are the common mistakes to avoid when writing donation requests to companies?

Common mistakes in donation requests to corporations include:

  • Not knowing who you're writing to: Not knowing the person you're addressing can cause you to write a generic letter that doesn't speak to the individual's interests, concerns, or values. Plus, nobody wants to get a letter addressed to their company rather than them.
  • Failing to properly introduce your nonprofit: Just because you know what your nonprofit stands for doesn't mean everyone else does. Not including a brief introduction to your nonprofit's mission, goals, and impacts on the community means the company doesn't know who they're supporting or why they should donate.
  • Focusing only on your needs: While it's important to communicate what type of support you need, donation letters shouldn't just be about your nonprofit. Letters that show how your mission matches the company's own philanthropy goals have a much better chance of getting a positive response since you're showing how a partnership can be mutually beneficial.
  • Not including a call to action: There's nothing worse than making a genuinely compelling case and then not asking or showing your potential supporter how to take the next step. What do you want your recipient to do after they finish reading your letter? Visit your website? Donate money, supplies, or services? Set up a meeting to discuss a matching-gift program? These requests, along with contact information and easy-to-follow instructions for what to do, need to be included.
  • Poor grammar and punctuation: Letters addressed to corporate sponsors need to sound professional, and there's nothing more unprofessional than reading a letter full of misspellings and mechanical errors. Proofread your letters carefully before sending them and hire a professional editor if necessary.

How can nonprofits measure the impact of corporate donations to encourage ongoing support?

Citing statistics on the number of meals, vaccinations, school books etc. that a company's donations helped pay for might be one way to show the effects of corporate support, but in order to measure the actual impact a company's contribution has made on a community, you'll need to offer more storytelling, clarify the goals of your nonprofit, and show how corporate donations helped meet those goals.

For instance, if your goal is to lower the dropout rate of high school students in your community, along with showing how many students your programs served, offer statistics that show the changes your programs are making. Share what percentage of the students you served are still in school after attending your after school tutoring or counseling programs. Show how many are applying for college or have received scholarships and compare these figures to statistics from before your nonprofit entered the picture. Providing specific, measurable proof of your programs' impacts will help encourage organizations to provide ongoing support.

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Hybrid Fundraising
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Michael Jung