How to Stand Out to Your Business Community

How do you get a business to entertain your donation request? Differentiate your nonprofit, that is, stand out from all the other nonprofits with their hands out too. And then don’t ask for a donation. Instead, engage in a partnership.

Free Online Training

Today we’re going to talk about how to get business professionals to notice your nonprofit and consider making a donation. To learn what your need to know before approaching business professionals, take my free, 20-minute, online training The Top Three Answers to Know Before Approaching Your Business Community. Register at

Set Your Nonprofit Apart

Everything anyone associated with your nonprofit says and does says something about your agency. From how the phone is answered to an award acceptance speech to employees talking about their jobs – it all conveys a message about your organization. What message do you want to send? What messages do you want others to send? And what in the world does this have to do with getting a corporate donation?  

It’s about standing out from the other 1.5 million nonprofits out there who are looking for money. And part of standing out is creating a message that coveys your agency’s uniqueness in the community and repeating it again and again. Do you have one strong identifying message, something that your agency is known for, or many garbled ones?

Knowing your unique marketing position is paramount. A unique marketing position is what you bring to the community that no other nonprofit like you brings. A unique marketing position statement tells the world where you fit into the landscape of all the other nonprofits, what your niche is, what makes you different. You figure your unique position in the community by taking your nonprofit’s perceptions of itself, your clients’ perceptions of your nonprofit, your donors’ perceptions, your competitor’s perceptions, and the community’s perceptions and figuring out the one thing all those perceptions have in common. Once you know how you are different than everyone else, then you can start building clear, unifying messages around it.

If you can talk about your nonprofit’s unique marketing position, you will impress the pants off business professionals, particularly those who deal with the public. Not only will your nonprofit stand out from the crowd, you will too. You and your organization will be remembered. Which makes getting noticed when you want their attention all the more likely. 

Be Repetitive and Consistent

A good place to start looking at what your agency communicates is with how your agency looks. Your logo, fonts, colors, type of pictures you choose to use on your website, banners, flyers, brochures, annual reports, and signage – it all conveys a message. What message are you conveying? Often agencies develop and use a style guide that outlines what they want to look like so that the look and feel of the nonprofit is consistent across staff and over time.

What do you communicate in words? Do you convey a consistent message across your press releases, social media posts, TV and radio interviews, and podcasts? What about the stories you tell? The grants you write? The appeals you send out? Do they communicate your nonprofit’s uniqueness? Do they all point to one unifying message?

What about your board, staff and volunteer recruitment, onboarding, and training materials? Your board manuals and employee handbooks? You want your board, staff, and volunteers to all be communicating the same message. And communicating messages that are consistent with the message the look and feel of your nonprofit sends. And you want their deeds to match that message. You need to repeat the same message in different communication modes for your point to get through all the noise and into the minds of business professionals. You want to be noticed.   

Don’t Ask for Money

After you have differentiated your nonprofit and gotten noticed, if you really want to stand out, don’t approach businesses asking for money. It’s not how to start relationships. Instead, ask how you can help them meet their business goals. Be a partner with them. With businesses, it is an exchange relationship where both parties give and receive something of value. If you approach them asking to enter into a relationship that meets their goals, you will get much farther along than if you come across as a beggar asking for a handout. And you are more likely to be successful in getting a donation.

Wrapping It Up

How do you get a business to entertain your donation request? Differentiate your nonprofit, create an identifying message, proclaim it again and again in all you say and do, and ask to what you can do to help them meet their goals. For more on preparing your approach to businesses, register for my free 20-minutes training The Top Three Answers to Know Before Approaching Your Business Community at


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