I don’t want to say it never works, because then there will be the 1 or 2 charity exceptions that filled out an online corporate sponsorship form and received a yes. This might have happened because:

  • They are getting a historical gift and haven’t been phased out – yet!
  • They got lucky and hit on a need that no one else was fulfilling – it happens.

And guess what, if they filled out the form and got yes, they probably received way less money than their property was worth!

So, if you haven’t done it already, my advice is don’t fill out the form.

I have been doing corporate fundraising for awhile, and I have spoken to even more people who have done it for even longer, and we all say the same thing, don’t fill out the form until you have been told to. And by this I don’t mean, a short email that says, “please go to our website and fill out our form” because frankly that’s the same as saying “we don’t want to say no, so fill out our form and the computer will do it for us”.

So, what do you do if you don’t fill out the form?

You spend time talking to people or even better getting people to talk to you. That’s the answer. Don’t fill out a form until you’ve had a conversation and you are confident you have the funding already secured.

How do you get the person to talk to you first?
Well, that is a bit trickier. This takes strategy and persistence.
Chris Baylis from the Sponsorship Collective The Sponsorship Collective recommends a very short and simple, and arguably a bit cryptic an email.

Hey Dave,
I saw on LinkedIn that you are involved in related product/project, I would love to connect
and ask your thoughts about a cool project I’m working on.
Are you free tomorrow at 3:00?

I agree that approach can work. I also agree that short is critical. I also propose another option: if you can convince them that you have a potential solution to their business problem – briefly – they will take your call. For example:

“My charity just completed a survey and determined that your bank represents more than ½ of our membership. We are currently building a program to bring in 5,000 new Canadians. Can we talk?”

Or what about:

“We are working with 10,000 seniors a year with mobility issues and 50% of them are downsizing this year. Could we talk to your assisted device department about how we might work together?”

These are just a couple of examples, but the idea is clear, if you want someone to speak with you, make them an offer that solves their problem. If they haven’t answered your email or call, you just haven’t asked the right question or provided the right offer – yet! Spend your time on this – the pre-proposal phase – instead of on filing our forms.

Oh, and when they say yes, keep the call short, now that you’ve got a call, it’s your job to listen. Learn more about them, so that you can have the next meeting!
Don’t believe me, try it!