How to approach commercial partners for support

In the search for sustainable income, there is growing interest among voluntary sector organisations in attracting support from commercial businesses, but how should you begin? Corporate fundraising, in common with all fundraising methods, will require time, resources and specialist skills. However, this type of fundraising could result in significant mutual benefits and might be appropriate as part of a diverse fundraising plan. In this short blog, our Funding Advice Officer introduces a few key issues to consider in your approach.

 


 

Establishing relationships with business partners has several potential benefits. They could raise awareness of your cause among new audiences, secure in-kind or pro-bono support to save money, and/or boost your organisation’s income. However, there are many steps to consider:

 

Mutual benefit

The best relationships are mutually beneficial, with positive outcomes for business partners and your cause. Your ideal goal is an arrangement where you and your partners work together to achieve a common purpose, so that’s a great place to start.

 

Benefit for your organisation

Make sure that your trustees and team are very clear about the main difference your organisation exists to make, and they are familiar with the focus of your external communications. Trustees must always act in your charity’s best interests and work to achieve the priorities in your strategic plan. The most successful and sustainable partnerships are likely between organisations of similar size with shared ethics, values and best practice principles.

A crucial part of your ‘pitch’ is to connect potential sponsors or donors to your cause. A clear, concise case for support statement would clarify how their support would improve people’s lives or make this world a better place.

 

Benefit for business partners

Consider how a commercial business partner would benefit from working with your organisation. How would partnership boost their commercial business, fulfil social responsibility, and/or benefit their staff team? It might be appropriate to outline a range of partner options and give brief examples.

For small charities, this might include a small selection of named “packages” or ideas such as:

  • sponsorship of a particular activity, service, event or publication
  • advertising space in your newsletter or online links
  • opportunities to boost staff morale or retention through engagement with non-financial in-kind support, pro-bono gifts of donated services, skills exchanges, or volunteering activities during staff away days
  • Invitations to promote your cause for payroll giving

A detailed written partnership agreement, or legal agreement, may be required to ensure you and your partners understand their respective roles and responsibilities. The agreement should uphold the core values in the Code of Fundraising Practice so that all activities are legal, open, honest and respectful. Some corporate support options have VAT implications, so research this carefully. Specific laws apply to certain activities, so seek appropriate advice to meet all legal and regulatory requirements.

 

Person-centred fundraising

As with all fundraising, success in your approach will depend on building and nurturing positive relationships. While a formal agreement will be between organisations, your primary fundraising relationships will be between people. Keep your initial appeal or approach brief, upbeat, positive and person-centred if possible. Talk about how their support would help improve people’s lives or make this world better. Highlight the local impact your organisation is making and the effectiveness of your delivery model. If you plan to contact potential partners, try approaching a named contact, ideally, someone who can personally identify with your cause. You should invite prospective business partners to a social event or open day to meet your team and learn about your work.

Make time to personally follow up on any expressions of interest and update your supporters with news and developments. Ensure you have efficient and appropriate administration systems in place to thank your supporters and value every person’s support, no matter what size their gift might be.

 

Links to further information

To learn more, take a look through these links:

  • CIOF Training resources
    The Chartered Institute of Fundraising (CIOF) offers professional training courses and resources for all types of fundraising, including Corporate Fundraising. A good place to begin is their 5-minute video video link and also resource link.
  • Good practice guidelines
    Follow best the practice principles and legal requirements given in the Code of Fundraising Practice from the Fundraising Regulator
  • Making an effective “pitch”
    GCVS has a short training video, GCVS Fundraising Quick Guide: Creating your Case for Support and offers a two-hour training session on this topic each quarter. For dates, check our website, GCVS What’s On
  • Registered charity status
    If you are a registered charity, remember you must give your registered charity number clearly on all your literature, correspondence, website and social media sites. Your registered charity status will promote public confidence and trust. oscr.org.uk
  • NHS Scotland Community Benefit Gateway (CBG) Portal
    This portal helps NHS support partners to find voluntary organisations looking for support. The portal establishes positive relationships between NHS Scotland suppliers and third sector community organisations, bringing both together to address community needs. It is free to register and easy to use. Watch this short video from Community Benefit Gateway – information for suppliers and guidance to Access our Community Benefit Gateway

 


If you are a voluntary organisation in Glasgow and would like some support with your fundraising, visit our webpage on Funding & Fundraising or contact our funding advice officer June at june.burgess@gcvs.org.uk.

For more articles on funding and fundraising read our blog

 

 

 

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