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Written by: Samantha Brown Aravinthan, BridgeRaise Account Consultant

At BridgeRaise, we are strong advocates of building corporate partnership programs using a relationship-first approach.

One of the most powerful ways to supercharge the relationship-first approach is to start with warm relationships: contacts who already have a connection to and knowledge of your charity or not-for-profit.

But what if there’s a company on your radar—a “dream partner”, even—and you DON’T have a warm connection? 

This is one of the most common questions we receive from our clients. And so without further ado, here is BridgeRaise’s position on how to approach successful cold outreach to prospects:

1. Conduct Research

Maximizing the likelihood of success with cold outreach starts with prospect research. Seek to understand your prospect’s mission, values, and business priorities:

  • What are their current giving priorities? Many companies focus their giving on 1-3 pillars.
  • Do they seek out opportunities for employee engagement? Look for examples of community involvement initiatives that spotlight their employees.
  • How does their geographical or community footprint align with yours?

In addition to their website and Annual Report, take a look at their social media feeds. Press releases and other news sources can also offer valuable insights.

Need a way to organize your information? Our Prospect Briefing Template is included in our bundle of Time-Saving Templates.

2. Initiate Outreach

After conducting research, use these learnings to decide on an alignment hook: something that you and the prospect have in common.

If your prospect’s giving priorities align with your organization’s mission and values, that is ideal! If not, it doesn’t mean that they are off the table—it just means you might have to get creative.

Now draft a short outreach note 3-4 sentences tops that contains the following:

  • Your alignment hook
  • A one-liner on what you do
  • A call to action: most likely a request for a discovery call

Need a sample email, look no further than the Time Saving Template Bundle.

Ready to see this strategy in action? Take a look at the below: 

Hi Heather, 

 (1) ALIGNMENT HOOK: As an environmentally focused organization, I was excited to read the recent feature about Eagle Blu’s single use plastics campaign in The Toronto Star.

 (2) WHAT YOU DO (SHORT!): I’m reaching out to introduce For a Greener Tomorrow: we are a Toronto-based charity focused on community education and outreach programming for high school students across the GTA. 

 (3) CTA: I’d love to connect and discuss how we may be able to support each other. Can you let me know a 15-minute window that works to connect this week? 

 Kind regards,


3. Practice Persistence

In a perfect world, you would hear back from your prospect shortly after sending your first note.

In the real world, where we are, things are rarely this simple. But we won’t let this deter us! So what does persistence look like in practice?

  • After a few days have passed since your first outreach, send a short follow-up note—they may have missed your first email or forgotten to respond.
  • Try a different means of communication, such as a LinkedIn DM or a phone call.
  • Still no response? You may have more luck reaching out to someone in another function at the same company. If you go this route, consider if any tweaks to your original outreach note would be beneficial.

Mastery of the follow-up is an art, not a science, and is something we coach on frequently at BridgeRaise and trying to find the thing that fits for you.

Was this helpful? Have you put this approach in practice before? Let us know in the comments below. 

Looking for a little extra help in this area? Make sure to sign up to receive my weekly emails to be the first to hear of new resources, templates, and swipe files. And as a bonus, get discounts for being the first to hear. Click here to sign up!

If you have any questions or need a little extra help reach out to me at [email protected].



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