How to Communicate with Corporate Donors When Their Budgets Are Tight
Fundraising is hard right now. Even with vaccine rollouts underway, many of the tactics fundraisers have used for years remain off the table for the time being, and many of the businesses they’d normally rely on for donations are facing financial hardships that have caused them to pause or reduce charitable giving. It can feel like your options are narrowing, making reaching out to potential corporate donors an unusually daunting task.
Rather than focusing on what you can’t control, focus on what you can. Here are a few things you can do to build thoughtful connections that garner greater support for your organization, even if an immediate donation is out of the question.
Demonstrate empathy in every interaction
Empathy is all about understanding the challenges that a potential donor is facing and the things they are trying to achieve. Without this understanding, it’s difficult to ask them for donations at the right time and in the right way.
When you’re reaching out to prospects, make it clear that you’d like to discuss ways their company can partner with your organization, even if they can’t offer financial support at the moment. Set up time to chat, but listen more than you talk and seek to gain a deeper understanding of where their business is at. What value could your organization offer them in return for their support? Could they benefit, for example, from the exposure they’d get from publicly sponsoring one of your programs? With these insights, you can present opportunities that align with their goals as well as your organization’s.
Of course, sometimes it just won’t be the right time, and that’s okay. By listening, being authentic, and showing that you honestly care about a prospect’s business, you can build rapport and foster trust—setting the stage for a mutually beneficial relationship down the line.
Pay attention to the signs
In some cases, you may be able to identify the right time to present an opportunity even before speaking to a prospect, simply by doing your research.
Look for signs that a company is in a strong position to make a philanthropic gift. Maybe they’ve just hired their first director of corporate social responsibility. Maybe they’re celebrating a major business anniversary and would like to give back to the local community, even if they can only make a small donation. By keeping your eyes peeled for these signals, you can not only reach out at the optimal moment, but can create more personalized messages that show you understand their position and goals.
That said, not all signs are good. It’s also worth doing your homework to avoid sending fundraising messages to companies at exactly the wrong time, potentially souring their impression of your nonprofit. If a company has recently had to cut back some services, for instance, the last thing you want is to appear in their inbox the day after that news breaks, so take the time to really get to know their business online before trying to establish a connection. If you sense it’s not the right moment, hang back, follow them on social media, and wait for a better time.
Connections are one of your nonprofit’s most valuable resources—always, but especially now. Stay in touch with former donors to let them know you still value them, and look for every opportunity to make new connections that may pay off in the long term.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator can take your fundraising efforts to the next level, allowing you to easily map out your organization’s network, identify warm introductions, and stay abreast of updates from donors and prospects. To learn more, reach out to our nonprofit consultants today.