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Receiving Business Donations Year After Year

corporate giving relationship building Dec 18, 2020

You’ve gotten that first donation from the company you targeted months ago! Congrats! Jump up and down and do your cartwheels. Celebrate this big milestone. Then realize life with this business partner goes on. The relationship is only beginning. Don’t think your job is done. You want to be able to get that second gift next year. Maybe even a bigger gift. And maybe for years to come. You’re in it for the long term.

Communicate Promptly and Regularly

To get that second gift, you need to live up to your end of the first agreement. You need to show you are trustworthy and build on the trust so you can deepen the relationship. You need to show success.

The first thing to remember is to communicate, communicate, communicate. Just as you should with all your donors, business, foundation, or individual.

The first communication should be a thank-you acknowledgement before the check clears the bank. Which means a quick email acknowledging receipt of the gift and a hearty thank you for the funds.

The next step is a written thank you letter with all the tax-deductible language in it. A hand-written note off to the side is a nice touch.

The third communication, about a week later, is an email about what has already been done to ensure of the agreement and when they can expect to see results. You want the company to know that your fulfillment of their agreement with you is of utmost importance to you and you take it seriously. You also want things in writing, just in case anything goes wrong.

After that, communicate with your contacts monthly and as you hit each milestone. Frequent communication shows forthrightness and a willingness to share information. Which is important if things for wrong or a deliverable is delayed. Just like foundation officers, business professionals don’t like surprises. They have people they report to and to whom they need to justify their use of resources.  Help make that part of their job easy for them.

Make sure to follow up with them once the project is finished. You want to thank them again for their contribution and include any pictures and materials that show your recognition of their donation. 

And when you communicate with business professionals, be brief and to the point. Remember, you want to match them in their style.

Report on Results

And report on the results. Not only the actions you have taken required by the agreement, but your measure of market performance as well. As well as a thank for how their contribution is enhancing your mission. For example, a client story or testimonial. Or social proof of mission fulfillment, like a quote from someone in your community or a snippet of conversation overheard during a community meeting. You could also send the results of a community or client survey. Just remember, be brief and to the point. 

The purposes of reporting on mission fulfillment are two-fold: 1) your mission is the crux of your brand and they are interested in brand performance; and 2) although business executives may think of business objectives first, they are still people and individual donors are motivated by mission. If you take this approach, you may even get a personal donation from the executive, in addition to the donation from the company. Or the executive may promote your cause to other employees, or even businesses, recruiting new donors to your cause. 

Determine Their Satisfaction

Periodically ask your contact if you are meeting their expectations regarding your nonprofit’s performance in carrying out the agreement. Also ask if there is anything you can do to improve their experience with your organization. Show that you are willing to go that extra mile.  Create an atmosphere of reciprocity. You want to meet their expectations so they think positive things about you and will want to continue the relationship. In addition, you don’t want any surprises. You don’t want to be going merrily along only to find that somehow you royally ticked them off. The only way to know for sure what they are thinking is to ask them how you’re doing. Get feedback and address any problems early, while you still have time to correct course and salve feelings.

Wrapping It Up

So, communicate promptly and regularly. Thank them profusely. Report on your progress. Talk about both business and mission outcomes. Address problems early. Show them you can deliver. And then you’ll be in a very good position to ask for that second gift.

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