Two articles about corporate donations and sponsorship.
Tapping Into Corporate Giving
You work for a non-profit group and you need to raise money. You've heard that corporations give money to groups like yours. But how do you go about asking them for a grant or donation?
First of all, you need to do your homework. You need to know what that particular corporation's criteria for giving are. If they only give to arts-related causes and you want money to build a trail, you should look somewhere else for money. Some corporations are a natural match with your group&emdash;for example, a veterinarian's office with an animal welfare cause.
One way you can learn what a corporation's criteria for giving are is to call or write them and ask. Most companies have a community relations person. Or, you can research corporate giving at the public library. Some corporations even put their criteria on the Internet.
It's a good idea to do your proposal in writing. You should include a summary of your group's mission and goals and why you need the donation. Be specific. Include a budget.
You should make an appointment to see the appropriate person and be on time and look professional. Be prepared to answer questions about your proposal and know something about the corporation you are visiting. And of course, be polite.
It's extremely important to give the company you approach sufficient time to consider your proposal. The decision may be made by a committee that meets on a monthly basis. Dropping by and handing a proposal to a receptionist and saying, "We need an answer by next week," is a sure way to get a negative reply. Most companies have a limited budget for giving and many of them plan their giving in August or September for the following year. Some companies plan their giving on a quarterly basis. You need to learn their schedules.
Most companies want to do their giving in a planned manner. If you are going to need help on two or three projects over a period of time, let them know that up front. Give them a yearly plan, or even a five year plan if that is possible. And don't have several people from your group contact them sporadically. If you show up every couple of months asking for money, it makes a poor impression.
You need to be flexible. For example, if you need a copier, and you approach XYZ Company, they may not have the cash to give you to buy a copier, but they may be upgrading to a larger, newer copier and be willing o donate their old one to your group. Or, if they make widgets and you ask them to donate a widget, they may want you to take last year's model. Or they may not make a donation, but will let you have it at their cost.
Finally, most companies will want something in return for their donation. At a minimum, they should get a letter of thanks. You may be able to tell them that you will use their name or logo on literature and list them as a sponsor of your group. Give them complimentary tickets to an event you are sponsoring, and let them be a part of your efforts as a non-profit. If you build trails, see if their employees want to take part in one of your projects, or sponsor a portion of a trail. Put the company on your newsletter mailing list so that they can be informed of your progress. If it's appropriate, you might include someone from the company on your board.
Corporations are generous and they want to help their community, but they want to be partners in charitable work, not just a cash cow.
Local Grocers and College Become Trail Funding Partners
From the Poudre River Trail News, Summer 1997
You can now purchase many of your favorite items featuring a Poudre River Trail Corridor logo in some area grocery stores and at the Aims Community College Bookstore, thanks to merchants who recently agreed to become partners in fundraising efforts to construct the 22-mile public trail.
Three supermarket chains in northern Colorado, Toddy's, King Soopers and Steele's, along with Aims Community College, are locating displays in Greeley and Fort Collins stores that feature items offered for sale by the Trail Marketing Committee to "raise both awareness and funds to construct the trail," says the Committee promotions coordinator, Rosie Reidel, marketing manager for ConAgra Fresh Meats Food Service.
"We'll start with shirts and water bottles and will try to introduce new items each month that might be useful to hikers, horseback riders, runners, bird watchers, and bikers of all ages," she said. Part of the proceeds will go toward trail construction.
The Walter W. Martin Company of Denver has donated 12 metal units to display the Corridor merchandise in retail store, while Condit Exhibits, also of Denver, constructed and printed colorful headers for these units.
Other businesses that would like to partner in marketing merchandise are urged to call. The goal is to raise $1 million in local funds to match grants to construct the 22-mile trail.
For more information contact the Poudre River Trail Corridor office at (970) 350-9783.
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Updated March 16, 2007