The first factor in garnering a donation from a business or corporation is just like any other type of donor: they have to be aware of your existence. And they have to a way to contact your organization. So, how do you attain visibility among the business community?
Chambers of Commerce, Business & Industry Chapters, and Other Business Associations
Your local, regional, and state Chambers of Commerce, Business and Industry chapter, Rotary Club, and other business groups are a good place to start. Involvement in these groups, though, means more than being listed in their directories or on their membership lists with the appropriate contact information. At the very least, you want to attend their networking events. Corporate networking events are where you get to interact with a number of business executive, get your nonprofit’s name and there, and put a face to the name. If they have an annual dinner, you want to be there too. If they have regular meetings, you may want to consider attending so that other group members get to know and remember you.
If you want to make even more of impression, you can join a committee or workgroup. Active committee participation demonstrates what you, and by association your nonprofit, can bring to the table. Especially if you can bring the businesses sitting at the table market visibility, customer acquisition, customer loyalty, and/or reduced costs. You show that you not only add value to the business community, but a relationship with you adds value to an individual business. Serving on a committee also gives you a chance to gain exposure for your organization and cause business leaders to think of you as a peer.
Traditional and Social Media
In addition to networking and participating in workgroups, radio spots, TV stories, and print articles create community, including the business community, visibility for your agency. To target the business community, explore advertising in business publications and guesting on business-focused radio and TV programs. You can also contribute articles to business-directed magazines, newspapers, and other publications. You may want to even sponsor a business event.
To target specific business, you can like and follow them on social media. Forward and share their posts that are of interest to your donors, volunteers, advocates, and community partners. Tag specific businesses as part of your social media strategy. And mention them in posts you write. Remember, they are also trying to increase their visibility. Anything you can do to further their goal will highlight your value to them.
If you’re lucky, your mentions and social media posts about them may end up on the company’s Intranet where hundreds of company employees will see it bring your nonprofit greater visibility to a larger corporate audience.
If you are going to implement any type of business media effort, you will want to integrate your donor and agency communication efforts. If you are employed by a nonprofit with both development and communications or marketing staff, make sure you coordinate messaging and coverage and agree on which companies you will target. Resources are scarce, no matter what size your nonprofit. Leverage those resources as much as you can for maximum impact.
If you are a one-person shop or have responsibilities that cover both fundraising and marketing, it is best to target only a few companies so that you can actually further a relationship with them with time to follow up rather than casting a wide net. We know it’s counterintuitive, but the more focused you are in your communication, the better results you’ll realize. Look at it this way. Say a bullseye target represents the amount of your time and effort and the circles of the target represent the world of businesses you want to reach. The fewer circles on your target, the bigger the bullseye becomes and your chances of hitting the bullseye increase. If time and resources are very scarce, as they are in small nonprofits, you’re better off targeting a very specific businesses, build a good foundation, and grow slowly than trying to reach the whole business community.
You can also draw the attention of the business community by designing your website so that it contains keywords that business professionals may use in an Internet search. Of course, this assumes that one of the purposes of your website is to appeal to the corporate donors and that you have conducted the market research to know what words and phrases appeal to them. A simple way to conduct market research is to ask business professionals you know what language they use to research topics of interest.
Wrapping It Up
So, join businesses associations and participate in their workgroups. Target specific businesses you want to reach as opposed to casting a wide net. Use the media to meet mutual goals. And coordinate your fundraising and communication efforts.