Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How to Connect to Corporate Sponsors and Partners

Frank Eagan, CFRE - Dir of Corporate Relations, Indiana Historical Society

We all know that the majority of donations come from individuals, so why bother with corporations? According to recent Giving USA statistics, in 2011, the largest source of charitable giving came from individuals at $217.79 billion corporate giving in 2011 totaled $14.55 billion, representing just 5 percent of total giving. Perhaps pursuing corporate funding is more work than it is worth? My own experience as the Corporate Relations Director for the Indiana Historical Society tells me something different.

Different types of non-profit missions show varying percentages of corporate support. Art and cultural institutions receive 6 to 12 percent of their annual funding from corporations, on average. The Children's Museum is a nationally recognized leader, receiving 31 percent of its annual funding from corporate gifts and sponsorships in 2012, according to Jenny Burch, associate vice president of development. While this is a rare example, it is important to look at what steps help create strong corporate giving programs.

Through trial and error I have found that the first step in developing a corporate partnership is to find corporations that offer products and/or services that might have a thematic connection to the fundable opportunity. At the Indiana Historical Society, for example, Kroger became a first time presenting sponsor for our planned 1944 Indiana grocery store interactive visitor experience. Kroger was a logical prospect since they are a grocery store with a large presence in our community plus a long history in Indiana. Getting them involved during the early development stage of this exhibit paid off since they also provided vintage labels from products sold in that era, making the space more authentic to our visitors. In-kind donations have continued from Kroger that offset costs for several of our public programs and they have continued to sponsor some of our education programs. We have also benefited from Kroger associates becoming IHS volunteers.

In summary, development professionals create valuable long-term relationships with companies by connecting the missions of the two organizations and involving the business in the creative process. Not every corporate gift or sponsorship can have these results, but corporate fundraising can be well worth the trouble and bring far more than a onetime check and logo if the proper steps are taken.


Anonymous said...

This isn't necessarily a comment on the article but rather a comment on one of the pieces of the story.

We, as fundraising professionals, constantly hear that individuals make up the greater part of the overall giving pie.

Outside of churches/religious institutions and universities/colleges, what does the pie look like for all other npfs in terms of where their funding comes from (i.e.- are the figures skewed to show something else; say greater giving by foundations/corps)?

LauraN said...

Nice article! It's all about connections. Some aren't readily visible, and that's where the job of the development professional comes in.