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Tips for building corporate funding now and for the future.

We are all in this together. And, while that is true, the experience that each charity and nonprofit is living is widely different.

Some of you are in the middle of the storm responding on the front lines feeling an unbelievable sense of opportunity to make a difference while also being emotionally exhausted. Others of you are facing unimaginable financial hardships and waiting for financial aid to know what your future looks like. And so many places and experiences in between these.

Each of you is on your own emotional rollercoaster. And, the employees at your corporate prospects and partners are too! (And I’m right there with all of you :-))

Knowing that each of you is on a different journey, I am offering you 3 principles that hold true as you plot out your next steps for your corporate fundraising strategy. (And if you prefer a more step by step road map of a mini strategy, jump to the end for the download).

Principle 1. Relationship First

In times of crisis lean on personal communications. It is the time to reach out and be compassionate and supportive. To ask personally how the pandemic is affecting your contact personally, and how their company is responding.

This is not a task that you should do once. This is a recurring task in your calendar. Reach out consistently with phone, cards, and emails to show you care.

If you are not quite as close a connection, you can also do this in social media by retweeting and commenting on posts by your contact or the company.

Principle 2. Educate

While it may seem obvious to you how the pandemic is affecting your charity, it may not be to others. Or maybe it would be, but they haven’t given it enough thought. So, make it easy for each of your corporate supporters to understand exactly how the pandemic is affecting you.

Is your program delivery changing? Is your funding being cut, adjusted, seeing a downturn? Did you have an event that you were really counting on that is no longer going to happen? Do you have staff being laid off, or staff that are being asked to do extra-ordinary care for people?

Tell this story. Educate your corporate prospects and partners. And, this story could evolve, have plot twists, and change. That’s ok, you can tell it over time. You don’t need to know the end of the story before you start educating. Just start!

Principle 3. Add Value

Charities provide so much value to our country and each of us individually. This is true in good times and in more challenging times. Now is the time to drill down and get very clear on what your value add is in this very specific situation.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. At what stage in this pandemic does my organization fit into the response?
  2. What are some resources that my organization has that can be shared with businesses, individuals, families, teachers, vulnerable people, children that would be helpful?
  3. Are there any resources that I have that a company might find helpful for its employees?
  4. Do I have opportunities to engage employees in my cause in some way during this time?

Be creative! Maybe ask some new people to join in answering these questions. I actually saw a charity do a google poll on Twitter to ask their community what they needed that this organization could provide. AWESOME IDEA! And another that had their front-line experts sharing their expertise through a webinar. This was not business as usual for this charity, and the content was so GOOD!

Depending on what your answers are, you can build your proposal for funding. It could be for now, or it could be positioned in the future. But first, you need to believe that your organization has value, and determine when that value fits with what is happening. 

I was speaking with an arts organization the other day, and we talked about how important the arts are going to be to people both digitally while we are closed in but also how much we are going to need them as we exit this time. So, this organization’s story has a medium and longer time horizon.  

Or, I don’t know about you but having hiking trails shut down makes me love them that much more. I’ve never wanted to give to green spaces more than I do RIGHT NOW! So, definitely there is a company or two that can help with keeping those spaces open for us when the time is right.

So, there you go, my keys for success to lean on during this uncertain time.

Build Relationships, Educate, Add Value.

Use your creativity and your view of the long game to develop relationships over this time. Believe that you can identify where you fit into the response and ask for support appropriate. And ultimately know that as things return to the new normal there will again be corporate support even for those of you that feel on the periphery right now. So, while you are periphery, be supporting and steward the relationships you have.

If you’d like a specific list of tactics based on where you fit into the response, you can download that here.

If you’d like to talk, you can email me here.

Take care, my friends,

Heather Nelson