I am often asked to build corporate prospect pipelines for charities. For some, this means going to a database and that in the database it will list companies that are investing in your cause and Bingo! a company name and contact is added to your list.

This might have been the case in the days when corporate and foundation grants were the main source of charitable investment. But now, in the times of cause marketing and sponsorship, finding corporate prospects is more complex.

How do you find corporate prospects?
It is all about alignment between your charity and the business. BUT, there are lots of ways you can align, such as:

  • Your cause matches their stated charitable giving priorities
  • Their product is sold to the demographic of your event audience
  • You work in the community where they have a significant employee presence
  • You have an employee engagement activity and they have a commitment to volunteerism
  • They have a business problem to solve, and you have a way to solve it!

And this is just the start of a brainstorm. There are so many ways you might align. You have to get to know the company to learn what they might be.

I know you are wondering: “how do I figure out what companies want these things?”

Well, this part is not magic, it’s brainstorming, research and networking. Your goal, ultimately, is to be in a meeting sitting across from the senior company person asking them “What challenge are you facing?” or “Who are you trying to reach with your message?” To get there, you probably need to do some initial research to figure out who might be a fit. How?

  • Brainstorm a list of possible companies
  • Read the business pages
  • Follow companies on twitter
  • Go to conferences with companies interested in CSR, cause marketing, volunteerism. I’m going to a great one
  • Company and Causes or locally go to events like these Hamilton Chamber of Commerce
  • Listen to their CEO speak at something like this, Canadian Club of Toronto and meet staff members who are there.

The easiest might be, talk to companies you know and find out what’s on their minds.

The only way to build corporate partnerships is to invest time in getting to know what is going on for them. Be an educated ally and this will enable you to become a great partner. And partners that are aligned is a fundamental building block for sticky partnership (click here for my blog on “Sticky Partnerships”)

And if you need someone to brainstorm with, I’m here! Drop me a note, [email protected] and we can figure it out together!

You’ve got this!