Seeking Donations: How to Ask a Business for a Donation
Seeking Donations: How to Ask a Business for a Donation
Corporate donations are crucial to the sustainability and day-to-day operations of a nonprofit. These donations can come in various forms including a cash donation, an in-kind-gift, or employee volunteerism. The following are some of the main reasons why donations from a company are so important to an organization:
- Financial Support: Donations from businesses provide a nonprofit with necessary financial support. Revenue from donations can be used to fund programs, initiatives, and have a positive impact on society.
- Capacity Building: A donation from a business can help an organization to expand its capacity. The money can be used by the charity to acquire more talent, invest in new technology, and expand its programs to serve more beneficiaries.
- Community Impact: Businesses typically have an influence within their communities. With the help of a nonprofit they can utilize their resources to address social issues and assist with community development.
- Strategic Alliances: Donations from companies can build strategic alliances between a business and a nonprofit. As partners these entities can create joint initiatives, pool resources, and have a positive impact on local communities.
- Tax Benefits: Companies often receive tax benefits for donations. The nonprofit acquires needed funds for operations whilst the business acquires a tax break.
In the remainder of this article you will gain an understanding of corporate philanthropy, effective communication with businesses, and how to ask them for donations. We will cover the legal and ethical considerations surrounding donations from a business and take a look at what a successful corporate donation request looks like. We will close with the answers to frequently asked questions and a brief conclusion.
Understanding Business Philanthropy
Business, or corporate, philanthropy is the term used to reference the act of a business entity engaging in charitable giving. This can be in the form of a donation, fundraising initiative, or general involvement in charitable activities. Business philanthropy involves the calculated pledge of company resources to support a variety of environmental, social, or community causes.
Why do Businesses Donate?
A company may choose to donate and involve itself in fundraising for various reasons that reflect the entity's ethical considerations.
Many businesses feel a sense of corporate social responsibility, which encompasses the incorporation of socially responsible practices into the company's overall strategy. By giving back to the local community and supporting social initiatives a business can help to positively impact those around them. Philanthropy can be used by a company to shape its brand and mold a positive corporate image. Businesses that support a nonprofit organization are more likely to build a reputation of trust with customers, employees, and the general public.
Companies donate for a mixture of strategic and ethical reasons. The motivations of a corporation often align with its values, the expectation of stakeholders, and the desire to support its community.
Identifying Potential Business Donors
Identifying companies to become donors involves in-depth research to find businesses that are likely to show an interest in charitable giving and align with the values of the nonprofit organization. The first step a nonprofit should take is to define its cause and values. It can then make use of online search engines, such as Google, and business directories to locate companies in its community and/or industry. Once an organization has identified some businesses, it can review them to discover one that may align with its values as a charity. To achieve this a nonprofit can read corporate social responsibility reports, analyze social media profiles, and attend industry events. Doing these things should help an organization to refine its list of companies and choose one that will make a suitable partner.
Alternatively a nonprofit has the option to explore an online platform for corporate giving. An online platform of this type is dedicated to connecting companies with nonprofits in order to facilitate corporate philanthropy, fundraising, and business donations. This is ideal for organizations that want to form a partnership with a company but don't necessarily have the resources to assess their options.
Local Business vs National Business as a Donor
A nonprofit organization has to consider whether it would be more beneficial to partner with a local business, a national business, or perhaps a combination of both. Below is a brief overview of the two options:
- Advantages: Local businesses are more rooted in the local community, easier to make personal relationships with, have a more instant impact, and understand the issues facing the community.
- Considerations: Local businesses have fewer resources due to their size and have a limited scope of influence.
- Advantages: National businesses have greater financial resources, can provide huge brand exposure for a nonprofit, have access to industry expertise, and can help an organization to scale.
- Considerations: National businesses offer a limited personal connection, have competitive partnership requirements, and have a complex decision-making structure, which can slow the process of securing support.
Ultimately the decision should be based on the needs and values of the nonprofit but it may be best to consider a hybrid approach to receive the benefits of both local and national company support.
Preparing a Donation Request
A nonprofit that is fundraising via company partnership should tailor its ask for donation to the specific business that the organization is approaching. Here are the key considerations to guarantee that the donation request aligns with the targeted company:
Research the Business: Before drafting a fundraising request the nonprofit should thoroughly research the business. The organization should familiarize itself with the corporation's values, products and/or services, and existing fundraising initiatives.
Tailor the Ask: It is best practice for a nonprofit to be specific about what it is asking for. Whether an organization is asking for a cash donation, an in-kind gift, or volunteer support it should customize the ask to suit the preferences of the company. If possible a nonprofit can offer different levels of giving.
Acknowledge Previous Giving: An organization should express gratitude to donors for previous giving. Whether they helped with fundraising via a donation or a gift it is important to acknowledge this support. Always say thank-you before asking for further donations.
Provide a Clear Call-to-Action: A nonprofit should ensure that it is actually asking for donations in a donation request. It may seem silly to mention but without a clear call-to-action a donation request will be ineffective.
It is of great importance for a nonprofit organization to be clear when asking for donations from a company. Providing clarity in an ask helps the potential donor to make an informed decision and increases the chance of a positive response to the donation request. A clear ask ensures that both the nonprofit and the business understand the expectations of one another and shows that the organization has a commitment to professionalism. The nonprofit should help the potential donor to understand how their donation will be used in order to maintain transparency and lay a foundation of trust for the relationship.
Asking for Donations: Effective Fundraising Communication Strategies
Effective communication is vital for corporate fundraising and securing donations from companies. Crafting a persuasive donation message or email is a skill that every nonprofit organization should familiarize itself with before making a request for donations.
Persuasive Donation Letters and Emails
Here are some tips for formulating a persuasive request for donations via letter or email:
- Personalized Letter or Email: A nonprofit should ensure that each donation request letter or email is personal to the business receiving it. A personalized letter or email will have a human touch and feel more relevant to the recipient.
- Compelling Story: The inclusion of a compelling story to highlight the work of the organization is a great way to make a donation ask letter or email more persuasive. These narratives allow a nonprofit to express its need for support and emotionally connect with the reader.
- Statistics: Donation requests that convince a business to give often contain statistics related to the mission of the nonprofit. Showcasing the impact of an organization adds credibility and displays the concrete results of fundraising, donations, and corporate support.
- Include a Call-to-Action: The importance of actually asking for a donation in a donation request letter or email cannot be overstated. Guide the reader of the fundraising ask to the next step of the donation process by providing a clear call-to-action.
In-Person and Phone Fundraising Requests
A nonprofit is not required to use a letter or email to send a fundraising request. An organization can also request donations in-person or via phone call. When interacting with potential donors it is critical for a nonprofit to build rapport so that it can gain an understanding of its audience and their preferences. This allows the organization to highlight the aspects of its operations that will resonate with certain individuals. Always practice the pitch before connecting with the potential donor. Whilst asking for donations it is best practice to be genuine, actively listen, and be prepared for questions. Implementing these tips will allow a nonprofit to convert individuals and businesses into fundraising supporters.
Building Relationships with Businesses
For a nonprofit to establish successful fundraising partnerships and corporate sponsorship via donation it must foster strong relationships with businesses. Networking is a great method to lay the foundations for a strong relationship but it requires a thoughtful approach to be effective.
An organization should research potential partners before attending networking events. It is vital to identify the prospective donors that a nonprofit will approach ahead of time in order to understand their values and preferences. If connections already exist then they can be leveraged to establish associations with other corporate entities. Social media, as well as any other online networking platform, can be a fantastic way to take advantage of these existing connections as businesses are likely to be linked in the digital space. An organization must ensure that it can bring something to the table in a partnership. Relationships between companies and nonprofits must be mutually beneficial in order to succeed.
Once a nonprofit has established a fundraising partnership it must be maintained. Here are some tips to prioritize the long-term future of a relationship with a business:
- Frequent Communication: A consistent and open line of communication will allow a nonprofit to maintain frequent contact with a business, ensure that the relationship remains healthy, and ask for donations when required.
- Personalized Engagement: An organization should tailor interactions based on the preferences of each business partner. This indicates that the nonprofit takes its relationships seriously and does not simply treat partners as a source of fundraising.
- Request Feedback: Actively seeking feedback from a business partner is a fantastic way to demonstrate a nonprofit's commitment to collaboration and refine its role in the relationship.
- Success Stories: Share success stories that arise from the partnership so that the nonprofit and the business can celebrate their fundraising achievements together.
How a Nonprofit can Offer Value to a Business
As alluded to above a nonprofit has to offer value to a business to make a partnership mutually beneficial. The following are some examples of what an organization can provide to make this happen:
Marketing and Promotion: Nonprofits should offer to include the logo, branding, and name of a business partner in any letter, email, or other form of media that it distributes to supporters. This exposure can help a business to reach a specific target audience.
Inclusion in Events: An organization can encourage business partners to attend charity events. They can be offered the chance to have a representative speak, be involved in a panel discussion, or display their products and/or services to the people in attendance.
Networking Opportunities: Nonprofits can host exclusive networking events for their business partners that will allow companies to connect with other corporate entities, supporters, and community leaders.
Employee Engagement Programs: Providing the opportunity for a business to engage its employees in a volunteer program or community initiative is a great way for an organization to benefit its partners. This allows the business to contribute to its corporate social responsibility whilst using the occasion as a team-building event.
Community Engagement and Public Relations: Nonprofits can involve business partners in initiatives that impact the local community. This can help a business to engage with local people, support its community, and foster positive public relations.
It is crucial for nonprofits and businesses to understand and highlight mutual benefits when entering a partnership. Mutual benefits support long-term and effective collaborations. Both parties must gain value from the relationship and this is easier to achieve when the organization and business share ideas and goals. The success of a partnership relies on a positive outcome for both entities. These outcomes might include brand exposure, community impact, mission deliverance, enhanced corporate social responsibility, or other strategic benefits.
Handling Rejections and Follow-Ups
When looking to form fundraising partnerships, sending a donation request letter or email, or reaching out to potential supporters it is best practice to anticipate and prepare for a certain level of rejection. Rejection is a huge part of the nonprofit industry and how an organization responds to it is going to determine its success.
Dealing with Negative Responses to Fundraising Requests
When nonprofits send a solicitation letter or ask people to donate it is going to result in rejection a lot of the time. While it can be disheartening to have fundraising efforts rejected it's essential to handle it professionally and use it as a learning opportunity. Nonprofits should politely ask people or businesses why they chose to deny the donation request. This will help to create a feedback loop that can be used to refine future donation appeals and fundraising efforts. In the face of a negative response an organization should attempt to form a relationship with the recipient of the donation ask. While individuals might decide against making a donation now, they may choose to give in the future if a positive relationship exists between them and the nonprofit.
Importance of Persistence and Donation Message Rejection Follow-Up Strategies
Nonprofits should prioritize persistence when fundraising and asking for donations. This can come in the form of consistent donation requests, frequent outreach to individuals and businesses, or follow-up strategies after a rejection. Below are some effective ways to follow-up on a donation request rejection:
- Respect Timelines: If a donation request includes a timeline for reconsideration then the organization should respect it. Persistence is important but there is a balance to be struck in order to maintain healthy relationships.
- Highlight Flexibility: Nonprofits should be flexible in their fundraising efforts by providing a variety of ways to donate and offering plenty of payment options. Use this flexibility to help individuals or businesses find a donation solution that they are content with if the first request has been denied.
- Express Continued Interest: Be sure to reiterate the nonprofit's interest in establishing a relationship with new people. Communicate that the organization is willing to compromise to suit the preferences and needs of specific individuals.
- Invite for a Conversation: This approach is best used following the rejection of a donation ask issued to a business. The nonprofit should invite a representative of the company for a follow-up conversation. This meeting can be used to discuss the rejection and find alternative ways for the business to donate to and/or collaborate with the organization.
Legal and Ethical Considerations of Fundraising
When receiving corporate donations it is important for a nonprofit to be aware of the associated legal implications. An organization also has to have the ability to navigate the ethical dilemmas that arise with this type of donation.
Nonprofits must comply with legal regulations surrounding corporate fundraising and partnerships. These regulations may include anti-bribery laws, tax laws, and guidelines unique to specific industries. It is critical for an organization to remain financially transparent. Proper records must be kept whenever a corporation contributes a donation or in-kind gift to the nonprofit. Conflict of interest policies should be established by nonprofits and adhered to. This is of greater importance when there are existing relationships between people involved with the nonprofit and people associated with its corporate donors.
Overcoming ethical dilemmas can be tough when fundraising and accepting corporate donations. It is best to try to avoid them before they become an issue. Nonprofits should steer clear of controversial donations and ensure that all donors are treated equitably. Make sure that corporate donors align with the mission of the organization and that donations, and the donors that give them, do not have an influence on the activities of the nonprofit. Always prioritize the mission of the nonprofit and take ethical and legal considerations extremely seriously. This will help an organization to stay on the right path, uphold integrity, and build a reputation of trust.
What a Successful Corporate Donation Request Looks Like
Specific examples of successful corporate donation requests can vary based on the type of nonprofit and business involved. Here is a hypothetical example of what a successful corporate donation request might look like involving a nonprofit with an education-based mission and a technology manufacturing corporation:
- A nonprofit that aimed to provide necessary education for underprivileged youth requested a donation for a technology-based education initiative.
- The organization successfully identified a technology manufacturer that was passionate about supporting education in the STEM field. Within their donation request they articulated a program to supply students with a laptop, access to the internet, and a curriculum designed to improve digital literacy whilst generating interest in the STEM field. The donation proposal clearly highlighted the alignment between the nonprofit's mission and the corporation's commitment to education.
- The technology manufacturer generously donated the laptops and facilitated students with internet access. It also provided coding workshops and student mentorship programs using its expertise in the industry. The partnership and donation resulted in a deep learning experience for a group of underprivileged children who may have otherwise missed out on a similar opportunity. The technology manufacturer was able to contribute to its corporate social responsibility initiatives and the nonprofit was able to further its mission.
Q: How do you formally ask corporations for donations?
A: Asking corporations for donations should be done professionally and formally. There are many ways to achieve this including writing a letter containing a donation request, composing an email asking for a donation, calling a business and requesting a donation over the phone, meeting a corporate representative and asking for a donation in-person, and using social media to solicit donations online. Each of these methods can be used as long as the organization follows donation request best practices and complies with legal and ethical guidelines.
Q: How do you approach a local business for a donation?
A: Local businesses can be great help when fundraising. Any of the methods discussed in the last answer can be used to ask a local business for a donation, such as a letter, an email, or social media. In the case of a local business it is recommended that a nonprofit requests a donation in-person. This is because the physical location of the business should be easily accessible to the organization and in-person donation requests are more personal. The likelihood of a positive result and receiving a donation using this method is greater.
Q: Is there a website to ask for corporate donations?
A: There are many digital tools available for soliciting donations and platforms that can help to connect nonprofits with corporations. Crowdfunding solutions offer organizations the ability to ask for donations on a centralized platform, social media sites can be used to help spread fundraising messages, and all-in-one fundraising platforms, like Paybee, offer an overall solution to managing donations and donors.
To secure corporate donations a nonprofit must carefully plan its approach, strategically communicate with potential donors, and commit to building mutually beneficial relationships. Research is always a great place to begin when procuring new business partnerships. An organization has to be sure to connect with companies that align with its values and overall mission. Successful donation requests must be calculated and make use of persuasive tactics to grab the reader's attention and garner support. Ensure that rejection is followed up on and that the nonprofit continues to adhere to legal and ethical regulations.
Now it is time for you and your nonprofit organization to take action. Make sure to engage with your stakeholders and collaborate to create effective donation proposals. Regularly assess the outcome of donation requests and refine them to improve their rates of success. Most importantly your organization should seek to build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with local and national businesses to help to further your mission. Contact Paybee, and sign up for the demo, for assistance with achieving your fundraising goals.