Starting a relationship of any kind is hard, am I right? Starting one where the reason we’re in a relationship together is unclear, makes it way harder.
I think we’ve all been there (I certainly have). For example, years ago, a business “gifted” money to my charity. Following the event we put together, I sent them a report on the impact of the organization in the community – but I didn’t ever hear back. And when I called them to try and renew their support, they said no. Where had I gone wrong?
Being me (not much of a wallflower 😉), I picked up the phone and called my contact at the company, determined to get things back on track. This time, I started the conversation with some important questions designed to help me better understand the nature of our relationship.
Why are you supporting my charity?
What does success look like for you?
Do you have metrics or numbers you are measuring to evaluate if your support achieved what you/we set out to achieve?
I want to make sure you meet your goals, what would you like to see in a fulfillment report?
Are you expecting a charitable tax receipt for your support?
During our conversation, I realized that I had entered into a partnership without knowing whether the support was intended as a donation or designed to meet a marketing need within the corporation. Rookie mistake! After all, knowing this is key to building a strong relationship, and here’s why.
Sponsorship vs. Donation? Why Labels Matter
If a company’s objective is to fulfill a marketing need, then the partnership will take the form of a sponsorship. This means that your partner is looking to acquire more customers, share a specific message or grow recognition amongst your audience. It also means no tax receipt and that your fulfillment report should provide information on the visibility of their company with your audience.
On the other hand, if the company is giving to you because they believe in your mission, they are giving to meet a philanthropic goal. If this is the reason behind the gift, then the support is a corporate donation or a corporate grant and could be eligible for a charitable receipt.
I know. Right now, you’re asking yourself why all this matters? If you are trying to raise money for your cause, both cases are a win and achieve the goal of supporting your charity. But we want our relationships to be successful, and successful relationships deliver what both people want. Given the difference between what you’re expected to deliver for a sponsorship and what you’re expected to deliver for a donation, clarifying what is being given and why is the only way to meet your shared objectives.
Want to learn more? I have a tip sheet that walks you through who you need to connect with, what to talk about, and how to define your relationship goals. If you are interested, you can find it here. https://heathernelsonconsulting.activehosted.com/f/13
Good luck with raising the right money from the right people and carving a successful corporate relationship!
You’ve got this!
Heather Nelson is a corporate fundraising consultant who has been working with charities, volunteers, and donors for more than 20 years. Through her company BridgeRaise, she applies best practices in corporate fundraising, sponsorships and cause marketing, to help fundraisers raise more money for the causes they champion. Heather loves acting as a cheerleader for corporate fundraisers, cuddling her puppy and dreaming about her next vacation. Follow her at @heathernelson12 or connect through www.bridgeraise.com