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Sealing the Business Donation Deal

corporate giving relationship building Dec 18, 2020

Congratulations! The company you targeted acknowledged the benefits of partnering with your nonprofit and you’re close to a deal. How do seal it?

Make No Assumptions

Number one, don’t assume anything. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over. For example, they may tell you they can give you a certain donation but when times comes to commit, it’s a different story. Sometimes the economy has slowed down, and they don’t meet or don’t anticipate meeting sales projections. Sometimes a law has passed that will result in more industry regulation. Sometimes the budget allocations they anticipated didn’t go through because another department in the company needed it more. Sometimes there is a change in leadership with new priorities. Anything can happen. Whenever possible, get a signed pledge commitment which will strengthen your position. But, never assume an anticipated outcome will happen with certainty.

Which means, you shouldn’t budget the expected donation as revenue, unless the business has been steadily giving for years. Even then, expect that things may still fall through. The last thing you want to do is over-project your revenues and leave your nonprofit in the red at the end of the year. Expect the best but plan for the worst.

Be Appreciative

Number two, approach them with an attitude of gratitude. Remember they are in the business of making money, not giving it away. And there may be other nonprofits who have approached the company for donations that are just as able to meet the company’s business needs as you. Let the company know how much you appreciate the fact that they chose to partner with you. Treat the partnership as an honor. That doesn’t mean grovel at their feet. That means that you still stand up for what you’re worth, but with the full knowledge that other nonprofits are able to fulfill the company’s business needs too. Be grateful the company has chosen to work with you.

Specify and Clarify Details

Ask them, “here is what I have to offer - what works best for you?” What you’re looking for is how to exactly how to narrow down the agreement. What elements of what you have to offer are most important to them? What can they do can do without? How important is to them that you implement certain processes? Remember to talk about expectations regarding communication processes and implementation procedures, as well as the deliverables on both sides. In fact, make the methods of delivery part of the agreement. Get agreement on both process and outcome.

Specify every detail. And clarify them. And memorialize them in writing. You want expectations to be as clear as possible. Whether you present a simple memorandum of understanding or an attorney-prepared a contract, have something in writing that you both sign and date.

If your agreement will last for a period of time, have an “out” clause, that is, language that allows either party to terminate the agreement. Just in case something happens. For both of your protections. You want to cover yourself in case the relationship changes. 

Command Respect

If the relationship is new, the company may want to start small and test you out before making a big commitment.  As you build the relationship, you may be able to expand your mutual commitments.

Be honest and ethical. Only promise what you can deliver. Don’t overpromise. You don’t want to get a reputation for failure or dealing with bad faith. The money is not worth a negative reputation.  A negative reputation is far more damaging to your fundraising efforts than losing a donation.

Be fair. Don’t ask for the world. It may seem to you they have a lot of money to spare, but they may not share that perspective. In fact, they probably don’t. Ask them how much what you can do for them is worth to them. Do your homework regarding industry marketing and training costs. The internet is full of information. You may not be able to an accurate estimate of that particular company’s costs, but you can get in the ballpark.  If you know approximately what you’re worth based on industry benchmarks, do you know how powerful that is? Not only will you be able to fairly price your offer, you will impress the business executive you are negotiating with. You will present yourself as someone who does their homework, is thorough, and anticipates negotiations. You will be impressive. And you will command respect. Imagine what that will do for your reputation. Come in with a fair offer. Know your worth.

Wrapping It Up 

Never assume certain results. Budget your revenues based on what is certain, not hope for. Maintain and attitude of appreciation and helpfulness. Specify every detail. Memorialize the agreement in writing. And be honest, ethical and fair in all your dealings.

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