So many nonprofits make the mistake of going to a business with their hands out. They make the ask before they properly establish the value. Sure, a lot of businesses love to help out charities and various causes with which they agree. But, really, there’s a better way to begin the conversation and increase the odds of getting deeper and more enthusiastic support from local businesses.
The fundamental idea is to bring your “ask” to a business with a dual approach. You absolutely want to promote the importance of your cause, and you need to be openly appreciative of any overtures toward supporting your organization, but you also need to help the business decision maker understand the value of not only donating, but in partnering with you … and what that can directly mean to their bottom line.
Show businesses how you will help them publicize their donations beyond just the ubiquitous “logo on a t-shirt or banner.” Include them in your press releases, and, most importantly, show those businesses how you plan to do that. Let them know they are partners, not just a blank check for you to cash. And let them know that, you, as the charity, will take the initiative in publicizing their donations. Don’t leave that up to them. Media outlets are much more apt to “hear” from charities than from businesses that seem to be searching for free advertising.
Give these businesses some of your graphics, so they can include them in their marketing. How many times have you seen a local business website with a section or listing of charities they support, and you can tell they pulled those logos off someone’s Facebook page. They look bad, and they make the business look like a stalker. So, when a business goes out of their way to support your cause, offer them at the very least a web-ready logo with your compliments. And ask them to reciprocate, so you can shout them out on social media.
When planning a media blitz kind of event that you know will attract cameras, invite teams from local businesses to join you in your efforts. Make sure there’s plenty of video with your groups working together. Suggestions here: races, Habitat builds, community cleanups, farmer’s markets, school carnivals … get creative, there are plenty of opportunities.
Swap and display swag. Get your office managers together to trade pamphlets, rack cards, and other print collateral to share across offices. So, when people come into that business, they see the charity; and when people go into that charity, they see the business. Even if they don’t take a card, this will link the two of you in their minds.
Take some time to connect with your volunteers and learn about their favorite local businesses. If your team members can take the lead using a connection they’ve already established, there’s a stronger chance of making a longer lasting, more mutually beneficial connection.
What do you think? Do you believe businesses will be more responsive to charities and other nonprofits that are cognizant and respectful of their bottom line reasoning?