Contribution by new BridgeRaise senior consultant, Cristina Evans.
You know what you are? Awesome. And capable, committed and resourceful. Having worked and volunteered with some pretty great charities over the past 20 years that’s a truth I’ve learned: most folks working in the sector are super smart and mission-driven. They’re focused on doing their best every day to further the work of their charity and help more people.
There’s something else I know… you probably wear a few hats and don’t have a ton of time to do the things you know are important when it comes to corporate fundraising. Like sending emails to thank corporate sponsors. Or templating the amazing pitch deck it took you hours to prepare last week. The one you know you’ll likely rewrite in a scramble the next time a company calls asking “what your sponsorships are”!
That’s because charities like yours are lean and efficient, often propelled by an entrepreneurial spirit. They generate new ideas on the regular so they can better help more people. If this is how things roll with your organization, then I’m guessing you’re also a big part of the engine that figures out how to make it all happen, and juggle a lot of balls in order to do so.
That’s why I joined BridgeRaise. Because we’ve been “you”!
Managing corporate partnerships and programs with Kids Help Phone and Food Banks Canada gave me lots of experience building as I went. Both organizations grew immensely during my time with them and it was an exciting and deeply rewarding experience contributing to that expansion. Like many of us in the sector, I had the opportunity to work on projects that were new and challenging and outside my wheelhouse. I loved rolling up my sleeves with the team to get things done – from group stuffing sessions for mailings to developing program strategies to attending fundraising events – sometimes all in the same day!
Here are a couple of nuggets I learned along the way that might sound familiar…
If you don’t have the right tools you’ll spend the (very) precious time you have on the wrong things that won’t raise money. Figuring out how to respond to a company every time you get an email is tedious and inconsistent. Not having corporate-oriented messaging about your programs and the impact of donor support can be frustrating. And responding to prospective sponsors without thoughtful program guidelines and a benefit framework to reference can feel overwhelming.
All this to say having the right documents in place makes things a LOT easier and faster. Don’t be intimidated! You probably have a lot of great stuff started already – just in need of some tweeks and updates. Getting your ducks in a row with some key templates and guidelines will set the stage for all kinds of good things like scaling up and ensuring the right folks get thanked and new programs actually happen, resulting in your having more time to do other work.
Corporate Employee Engagement is a priority for most companies and you can figure out how to help them do it. Most companies I’ve worked with care a lot about their employees. The best of them have clear social impact goals and a genuine desire to make a difference, and want their employees to be part of it. As Heather noted in her recent blog, “Employee Engagement: Work It!”, delivering meaningful employee volunteer opportunities for the companies that support you isn’t just important – it’s essential. And it’s totally achievable if you’re open to thinking of ideas that might be a little outside the box! Raising funds for an event, participating in committees and providing pro-bono expertise and services are all ways companies can support you. And the big upside to involving employees with your work is that it will allow you to develop a broader, deeper and most sustainable relationship with your corporate sponsors. Check out the blog for more great ideas!
It’s important to be an internal cheerleader for the companies who support you. As the person looking after corporate fundraising (along with a lot of other stuff!) you’re likely the one who checks the boxes on your corporate sponsor recognition commitments, makes sure logos are where they should be and keeps an eye on social media to see what they’re up to, sending shoutouts to companies whenever you can. Beyond making sure the the world knows how awesome your sponsors are, there’s huge benefit to championing their support with your colleagues.
It’s likely they also have pretty long and varied to do lists. Things move quickly and not everyone can fully keep up with the corporate support you receive, or its potential. Being an internal ambassador for corporate sponsors within your organization can lead to a broader mindset of gratitude. Best of all it can engage team members in different areas to think of ways companies can support what they do – back to those creative volunteer opportunities. This isn’t always as easy as it seems… we’d love to hear your successes and challenges wearing this “hat”! I’m collecting ideas for a future blog so send me your thoughts at Cristina@bridgeraise.com.
All this to say I’m thrilled to be working with Heather and BridgeRaise, finding tangible and easy to ways of helping innovative and resourceful clients like you build out corporate fundraising activities so you can raise more funds for your amazing missions.
Any of my lessons make you think that I can help? I’d love to, so drop me a line – and let’s hear about what you’re doing and brainstorm ideas that might be helpful!
Let’s figure it out together,
PS. Heather here. I’m so pleased that Cristina is sharing her knowledge with the BridgeRaise community. I know you are going to learn tons from her. This is her first contribution to our inner circle and definitely won’t be the last. I hope you enjoyed it.