Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fundraising Tip: How To Secure Corporate Support

BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF) spends a good deal of our energy trying to ensure that we don't have conflicts with the corporate sales efforts of National BDPA or any of the 45 local BDPA chapters.   However, it has become more and more apparent over the past few years that our ability to generate revenues improves exponentially if we find ways to work together.

I think that the following fundraising tip provides some excellent food-for-thought on non-traditional ways that any nonprofit can find support from Corporate America as we continue through these tough economic times.

Pursue In-Kind Donations, Contributed Media
and Technical Expertise

Especially since the economic downturn, it's become much more common for nonprofits and corporations to enter into partnerships that are less focused on direct financial support. In business they say "profits equals income minus expenses," and similarly for nonprofits, reducing operating costs is just as important as bringing more money in the door. Even in tough times like those we're going through, many companies are able to provide non-cash support that can be just as crucial as a monetary donation.

Here are three budget-relieving examples we encourage you to pursue:

  1. In-Kind Support: Make-A-Wish Foundation of America has been particularly successful at developing what are called "cause-related marketing" partnerships with a variety of airlines, hotels, and travel providers. In their case, the nonprofit receives travel services that can be used in granting wishes. These donations save money that would have otherwise been expended, and is critical to fulfilling, the foundation's mission of granting wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. Whether it's donated beer and wine for your next gala, free computers, or getting your airfare comped, how can corporate in-kind support advance your efforts and add money to your bottom line?
  2. Contributed Media: The U.S. Fund for UNICEF has developed an innovative partnership with top advertising agencies. The agencies approach the companies they normally buy ad space from and ask them to donate time to support UNICEF's Believe in Zero campaign. Each year UNICEF receives more than $10 million in donated media to raise awareness for mission-critical initiatives, allowing them to deliver a call to action to targeted audiences. This relationship has been critical to the UNICEF and has resulted in them saving 2,000 lives every day -- that's direct mission impact. But you don't have to be a huge global player to secure contributed media -- call your local TV or radio station and ask if they're able to produce a PSA (public service announcement) for you and air it!
  3. Technical Expertise: As part of their relationship with United Way of King County, the Seattle office of a global accounting firm reviewed United Way's IT infrastructure. They provided pro bono recommendations on how multiple databases could be integrated to provide more timely, accurate information, thereby improving United Way's service delivery. Although United Way isn't a mom and pop shop, they wouldn't have been able to pay for this kind of support. At the same time, the accounting firm enjoyed engaging employees in community building, building team morale. Whatever your size, look for a pro bono lawyer and accountant as well as technical support providers and other volunteer roles that may be filled by talented professionals.

Our nonprofit can benefit from each of these three ideas because our focus has been almost entirely on direct financial support.   Perhaps it is a good idea to get Corporate America to say "yes" to supporting us ... even if that support is not in the form of a check!

This tip is inspired by Darian Heyman's new book, 'Nonprofit Management 101: A Complete and Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals'.

Does this tip seem like one that you might use for your local chapter or nonprofit? If not, do you have a fundraising tip that you would like to share with us?

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