How to make your first contact with the corporate donors

Dr Saumya Arora About Dr Saumya Arora

Dr. Saumya Arora is a development professional with cross-disciplinary experience in project management, resource mobilization, donor relationship management, community mobilization and project execution at the field level. She is currently working towards building fundraising and resource mobilization capacity of community-based organizations, apart from developing functional linkages with donors across the world.

Making your first contact with the corporate donors can be tough and intimidating. The corporate culture differs a lot from the nonprofit world. Many-a-times, nonprofits need to make a lot of efforts to reach out to a corporate, to make them listen to what they have to ask for, and to tell them why they stand out by the good work they do.

Being able to schedule a meeting with them is a good indication for the potential collaborations or seeking corporate funding or sponsorship for your organization.

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So here are a few tips to help you prepare for the face-to-face meeting.

How to make your first contact with the corporate donors

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Your first meeting with a corporate can make you nervous. Don’t worry and make sure you go step-by-step. Whether it is a pre-ask meeting or one that is regarding corporate volunteers, it is surely an opportunity for your non-profit to get various resources like funds, volunteers, partnerships, etc.

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First things first. Make sure you have an appointment with the person you want to meet. Also, try to phone in before going. This small step will help you and the other person also by saving time, preparing the discussion points, and thus will result in fruitful discussion. You may also need to send an email defining the objectives of meeting and the expectations from it.

Preparation for the meeting

Be ready with your homework before the meeting. You would want to make sure you make the most of it. So, make sure you have done your homework before this one.

Be ready with all the things you would like to carry with you, like a PowerPoint presentation about your organization, your work, your cause and what support you are seeking. 

Do your research

You may want to go for the meeting with high possibility of getting a donation or corporate gift, or other resources. For making sure you achieve this, you would need to understand the company in question.

As a part of your preparation for the meeting, and for developing good strategic relations with the company, you must put in adequate efforts to understand the company, its strategic plans, values and work, their work in the area of corporate social responsibility (CSR), where does CSR stand in its overall strategies.

A little bit of research about the company, previous and current social projects it has implemented, if any, can tell you a lot about the corporate. All this will help you in understanding the company and thus will enable you to make your proposition into a business case for them. This can be a win-win situation for both sides.

Keep it simple

Keep the first meeting simple. You do not need to carry bulky documentation, or your reports, audit, etc. to the first meeting unless asked to. Aim to utilize the opportunity of a first meeting to discuss, brainstorm, explore areas of collaboration, understand each other, to arrive at a conclusion towards contributing for a cause together.

Although you need to display what your organization does, impact areas and success stories, keep it light and carry a PowerPoint presentation to explain about these.

Communicate your impact

Most of the corporate donors do not like to risk their funds, reputation, and time, so most of them like to go for a known, reputed and trusted organization to support and to undertake social projects. You need to communicate how is your nonprofit different, what is it that you do and how good you are at it.

Show numbers (data, evaluation reports, and successes), success stories, narrations, even videos with a ‘master’ presentation about the organization and the programmes. Before asking for donations, you need to communicate why the corporate must be interested in your cause. 

Take the first small step, aim for the giant leap

There’s a funny expression in fundraising, which goes like this: If you ask for money, you get advice, and vice versa, i.e. if you ask for advice, you get money. Make sure you do not come across as just another charity asking for a usual donation, considering the corporate as ‘just another donor’.

Discussions, brainstorming, analyzing the needs of the community will help you come to a conclusion about how you as a team can work together to bridge the gaps.

Also, working towards cultivating relationships with corporate donors is the key to a successful collaboration and long-term association that hold huge potential for good work for the cause of your organization, and the people you support. Help the corporate understand how CSR can help them, what it would mean to them as a business case as per their values and CSR areas.

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