Step 4 (continued). Business and Corporate Contributions

For new organizations, business contributions can be as simple as asking local vendors to donate goods (see "in-kind donations" for more information on donation of goods and services) or money to your organization. Local businesses may be more willing to donate if you can find a way to give them high visibility in your community.

Graphic depicting two people shaking hands with a picture of the Earth in the background. It is meant to represent people conducting business.

If you are approaching a corporation, the situation is more complex. Over the last 15 years, corporations' motivation for giving has changed. In the past, corporate donations were largely philanthropic, based on altruism and good will. Today, more and more corporations use donations as marketing tools based on strategic business decisions. They give for specific purposes and require tangible results. Corporate contributions include monetary donations and in-kind gifts and services.

Taking this into consideration, it is important to:

  • Understand the goals, needs, and interests of the business. Research their corporate history, giving history, current goals, target markets, organizational structure, and current cause interests.
  • Get in at the right level. Determine who makes the donation decisions in the company. In some corporations, multiple departments (community relations, marketing, corporate foundation, and program departments) donate money or in-kind services. For corporations with both a corporate headquarters and local affiliates, determine who to approach for donations. Influential employees speaking to management on your behalf can be very effective.
  • Know your own organization's goals so that you know how you can fit the businesses' needs. This is why it is important to develop a plan before you pursue funding.
  • Build the relationship. Establish contact and create the relationship. Your first contacts should be informational interviews, so that you can later customize your proposal.
  • Be prepared to address how you can help the company meet its mission, reach its market, or foster its image. Nonprofits can offer marketability, a means to reach their customer base, expertise and services, good public relations, employee involvement, and loyalty; businesses want to buy all of these.
  • Maintain and invest in the relationship. Make sure you always thank donors for their support! Keep corporate donors informed of your activities. Provide donors with customized reports of what you did with their gifts and what you would do with continued support. Invite them to visit or participate in your projects. Think about what you can offer the corporation and its employees, such as an educational canoe trip or a lunch time slide show.

Citation: See Resources, Works Cited #18

Additional Resources on Corporate and Business Donations

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