One of the biggest headaches that corporate fundraisers describe is being repeatedly distracted by (often senior) colleagues who want them to make approaches to companies based on a whim or eg a suggestion from a guest at your CEO’s husband’s dinner party.
Occasionally we are right to change our agreed plan when a great opportunity presents itself, but 9 times out of 10, these partnerships are either un-winnable or do not make strategic sense in terms of capacity, or fit with your charity, or both.
The truth is, this will continue to happen if you don’t have an agreed plan for which few companies it makes strategic sense to aim for.
How to find the companies that add massive value
It does not have to be this way! A manager on my Corporate Partnerships Mastery Programme recently fed back how motivating her team had found it to brainstorm their Dream Ten Partners List.
Before they did this process, there were more than 120 companies on their list to approach. Can you imagine how hard it had been to take creative, bold action to build relationships with those 120 companies?
Within two days of radically reducing the list, they made progress (meetings booked) with three key companies.
But the biggest effect she reported to the rest of our Mastery group was how energising the process had been. Letting things go, making decisions on what we don’t need, is not always easy. But once it’s done, it is incredibly energising, as you will know if you’ve ever de-cluttered a room.
Three options to decide which companies you really want
So if you have not currently decided on your Dream Ten Partners List, how could you get one?
You could a) continue to put it off (of course everyone is too busy); b) decide to get an agency in to do it (but how much time and budget will that take?) c) You could decide to tackle it yourself.
If you don’t like a) or b), then simply schedule a time (you can make huge progress in a couple of hours) in the next ten days, to brainstorm it yourselves. Ideally get senior colleagues involved, so that they buy in to the need to apply strategic sense to corporate partnerships choices.
On our Programme I walk people through a process to achieve a first draft, Dream Ten Partners list in under two hours.
Ask these two questions
At its simplest, there are two questions that will generate names of potential partners which I guarantee you have so far not currently thought about or approached:
- Which companies (should) want to partner us (ie because our most typical supporters / beneficiaries are exactly the type of person that is their target market)?
- Which companies (should) we want to partner with (ie because they are experts / have capacity to add enormous value to an area that is strategically important to us)?
Regarding Question 2, the truth is, there are things like distribution / advertising space / access to a gym etc that are very difficult or expensive for your charity to provide in order to reach far more of your beneficiaries, but which are relatively easy for a company to provide because of their economies of scale / expertise / quiet periods in their product cycle. One UK children’s charity recently secured pro bono distribution of its materials worth a six figure sum from an FMCG company, meaning it is now able to help thousands more children.
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