By Aly Sterling, founder and president of Aly Sterling Philanthropy

Partnerships between nonprofits and the for-profit sector have always been an important funding stream for nonprofits, but the pandemic has made these relationships even more critical to diversifying financial support for your organization.

Some corporate partnerships can also offer stability in an uncertain fundraising environment, so cultivating these relationships will ensure they’re solid when you need them most.

Here at Aly Sterling Philanthropy, we take pride in helping organizations maximize their fundraising opportunities through our nonprofit consultation solutions. We’ve compiled four tips to help expand your nonprofit’s corporate partnerships for the greatest fundraising results:

  1. Use virtual platforms to express gratitude
  2. Secure sponsorships through letter writing
  3. Encourage matching gift programs
  4. Hire a fundraising consultant to help with strategy

Not only will these strategies help you fortify current corporate partnerships but also diversify your overall fundraising approach for a more sustainable future. Let’s take a closer look at each tip!

Use virtual platforms to express gratitude

As the majority of in-person connections have migrated to the virtual sphere, you must ensure your nonprofit’s message isn’t lost in the shuffle.

Whether you’re considering a major capital campaign this year or seeking funding for a new program, engage your corporate partners in your fundraising efforts through consistent, personalized communication methods.

When thinking about your corporate partners, remember they’re people first and not just faceless business entities. Engage with them on a personal level to create a deeper connection and sense of goodwill.

There are plenty of ways nonprofits can connect with corporate donors through online channels to foster these relationships and generate community with donors. For instance, your organization can:

Organize a personal video/phone call to thank donors

A personal video chat or phone call with your biggest corporate donors is a non-negotiable element of your corporate partnership plan. Your corporate partners need to stay updated on your nonprofit activities, and you must make time to express appreciation for their ongoing support.

Use these calls to keep sponsors in the loop by sharing recent successes and campaign updates, and be sure to thank them for their generosity in these uncertain times. Corporate partners will appreciate getting updates on your activities and knowing their contributions are being used wisely to further your mission and goals.

Create social media posts highlighting corporate partnerships

Social media is a great way to stay connected with supporters in the era of social distancing. Use your social media platforms to give shout-outs to your corporate donors and express your appreciation for their support.

Create a social media calendar or plan that includes a posting schedule for your corporate partnership posts, and feature a different corporate partner in each post. Make these posts shareable so corporate partners can repost them to their pages to advertise their philanthropic endeavors, which also exposes your message to a wider audience.

Host a virtual event for donors

Consider hosting virtual events to engage your corporate partners in activities beyond just donating. For example, you can host a Zoom trivia night or a virtual happy hour to express gratitude for donors and provide a safe, fun atmosphere for local professionals to network and meet new people. These events are a great way to enhance your donor’s personal connections with your organization.

Many human interactions are taking place through virtual platforms right now, so ensure your organization has a communication and engagement plan in place to connect with your corporate partners online.

Secure sponsorships through letter writing

Take some time to refine your letter-writing strategies to obtain new corporate sponsorships. Corporate sponsorships are mutually beneficial relationships for nonprofits and their corporate donors. Through these partnerships, your nonprofit receives a funding boost, and the corporate sponsor receives a boost to their reputation and a chance to get their name out in the community.

Fundraising Letters offers templates for sponsorship letters to make the drafting process easier. In your sponsorship letters, be sure to include a concise description of the purpose of your organization or program, your funding needs and the benefits corporate sponsors will receive.

Use data from previous campaigns or partnerships to make the case to sponsors. For example, if you send out a weekly newsletter that gets opened by 5,000 supporters, include this stat in your letter to show prospective sponsors the advertising potential of sponsoring your email newsletter.

Additionally, highlight other sponsor benefits such as the chance to enhance their corporate image to be viewed as a socially-responsible organization. Emphasize the fact that 88% of consumers said they want brands to help them live more sustainably and ethically. People respect businesses that commit to corporate philanthropy programs to operate more sustainably and give back to the communities in which they operate.

Well-written sponsorship letters can help you gain support for occasions such as starting a new program within your organization or hosting a virtual event. Also, corporations are more likely to be responsive to letters that request a sponsorship for a specific project or a defined time period. Consider narrowing your ask and focusing follow-up communications on converting these short-term sponsors to true partners. Be sure to send thank-you letters to sponsors each time they make a contribution.

Encourage matching gift programs

Corporate matching gift programs are a major funding source for nonprofits that’s often overlooked. In fact, an estimated $6 – $10 billion of matching gift funds goes unclaimed every year, according to this guide to matching gift statistics. Therefore, these programs offer a great opportunity to strengthen your relationships with corporate donors while securing more funding for your organization.

In these programs, corporations pledge to match donations made by their employees to eligible nonprofits. When communicating with corporate partners about matching gift programs, there are two objectives to achieve: persuading your corporate partners to establish matching gift programs and empowering them to provide information about these programs to their employees. Here’s how to do it:

  • Encourage your corporate partners to start matching gift programs. Communicate with your corporate partners about the impact that employee matching gift programs can have on your nonprofit fundraising efforts. Also, explain how this fundraising program will benefit them by allowing them to create a culture of giving within their organization, enhance their image as a philanthropic business and be eligible for tax incentives.
  • Provide educational materials and resources to empower corporate partners to spread information about their matching gift programs. Offer information through your website, social media or email newsletters that tell your corporate partners how to start matching gift programs. Additionally, advise them to emphasize to their employees that they can make a substantial impact on local nonprofits through filling out forms to get their donations matched.

Emphasize to your corporate partners that matching gift programs are a simple way they can raise a significant amount of funds for your organization and improve their standing as a socially-responsible company.

Hire a fundraising consultant to help with strategy

Since you can’t meet with donors in person, you might feel out of your element trying to carry out new corporate partnership strategies using virtual technology. Consider bringing on a fundraising consultant to help refine and implement your corporate partnership ideas and goals.

A fundraising consultant will take your organization back to basics to determine what you want to accomplish with your fundraising and where you need help.

These professionals can help you identify and connect with the most appropriate for-profit partners on a local or even national level. With their expertise, you’ll be better equipped to make a more informed sponsorship ask and to build a strategic relationship over time. Outside of corporate philanthropy, consultants can also conduct fundraising assessments and feasibility studies or manage entire campaigns to maximize your organization’s fundraising potential.

Since expanding your nonprofit’s corporate partnerships is one of the most important aspects of diversifying your fundraising strategy, hiring a fundraising consultant is an investment in your organization’s long-term success.

Ultimately, adopting strategies to expand and strengthen your corporate partnerships now will give your organization greater access to a consistent source of funding to last for years to come. Be sure to explore your options for hiring a fundraising consultant for your nonprofit to help you come up with the best strategy for your organization. Happy planning!