Sitting at your desk, looking at a blank page and thinking I don’t know how to get started with corporate fundraising. I’ve seen so many companies sponsoring events, and I know that companies give cheques to charity, but I honestly am not sure what the first step is.

My client, Michelle, called me with this very situation. Her starting line was “I really don’t have anything for corporate sponsorship, but I did have a great conversation with a company at an event and I think if I had the right thing this company would support my charity”. I could hear the uncertainty in her voice, and the hopefulness.


Michelle had a relationship to build on…

For me, this is a great scenario, and starting from scratch is not a blank page for me.

So, we spent a few hours mapping out the key offerings that her organization has for companies, and a few more pulling together a draft package.

And, she was ready to get started.

Building Blocks of Success – What Corporate Partners Want.

Figuring out what corporate sponsors want is all about listening. In my early corporate fundraising days, I listened to my corporate contacts and partners who provided feedback about what mattered to them. The same values kept coming back to me – transparency and collaboration. This has been repeated over and over with my clients since then. In a nutshell, companies want us to be clear and open about what we have to offer, what we both wanted to accomplish, and to work together on making it happen.  

Putting these values into practice , I’ve developed the steps that are essential for raising money from companies… and I am happy to share them with you! 

Start with the Why

There are a couple of must-ask questions you need to consider before starting down the path of corporate partnerships.  These are: Is corporate support the right thing for my organization? And, if yes, then why would a company give money to us?

For the first question, you’ll need to consider if you can provide what a corporate donor is looking for.  In the old days, like the 90s ;-), there were companies that gave cheques and only expected a charitable tax receipt.

Now, in the roaring 2020s, meeting expectations of corporate partners requires at least a basic degree of reporting and recognition, and to be the best it requires being exceptional at both. It requires a few hours each month dedicated to stewarding and building relationships. So, before really getting into corporate fundraising, make sure that you know that your nonprofit can actually meaningfully engage with companies.

Assuming you’re committed to corporate fundraising you’re ready to ask (and answer!) question #2 – Why would a company give money to us?

For this one, your answer should be specific and clear. You probably have more than one option, and that’s great. However many you have, you need to make sure it is about them. The reason needs to go further than because we do good work!

Figure out What (they can support), Where (you’ll access funds) and Who (is in charge)

Since support is available in different ways from companies, understanding what you are offering as a charitable partner will help determine where to access funding, and from who.

  • For example, are you seeking a grant or philanthropic donation?  Then you’ll want to position the offer as the chance to create social change and impact.
  • Are you looking to access sponsorship dollars? If so, you’re offering marketing, and you need audience demographics, data and access. Ideally, this also includes a unique chance to sponsor an incredible event.

This is your chance to get creative and view your programs, activities and events from different perspectives – and most importantly, from the businesses’ point of view.  Look for opportunities that hit the sweet spot touching on a few of their priorities.  For example, an event sponsorship that provides them with great visibility with their target group and requires employee engagement on their end.  Win-win!

Once you have this mapped, you are ready to get started. 

Still not sure how to take the next step? Let me know, we can get you in action in no time!

And to help with the steps you need to take check out my Basic Building Blocks of Corporate Fundraising Checklist. You can download it here.  It provides some high-level steps to making all this happen. Follow them and you’ll be on your way to establishing a solid Corporate Partner Program!

You’ve got this!

Heather Nelson

P.S. If you have questions, or one step would be made A LOT easier if you just talked to me, then let’s! Reach out at  [email protected] and let’s talk it through.