By James D’AmbrosioJamesProfile1Twitter

Robert Bellovin, editorial coordinator at Software Advice, an Austin, TX-based company helping businesses across many industries select appropriate software, asked if I would write about ideas put forth in an article discussing corporate gifts authored by Wes Eichenwald, a blogger for Software Advice with expertise in nonprofit and small business.

Titled “The Secret to Landing Corporate Donations,” the author notes that while corporate donations comprised just 5 percent (nearly $14.5 billion) of all U.S. charitable donations in 2011, there are other benefits: publicity and exposure for an agency’s mission which can help sustain individual gifts. Eichenwald says seeking corporate donations requires agencies to “…position their organization’s campaign to align with the company’s brand, employees’ interests and community goals to form a mutually beneficial and lasting partnership.”


Here’s a summary of main points:

1) IDENTIFY MISSION & DONATION HISTORY: Research the company you’re targeting and determine mission, accomplishments and future goals to see if there’s a fit with your agency — types of organizations contributed to, amount of donations, location, etc. Eichenwald also emphasizes donation history: types of organizations previously contributed to, how much is usually donated, whether they give to local, national or international organizations, and if they take part in employee volunteerism. Do your homework and select prospects with care.

2) EMPHASIZE EMPLOYEE INTERESTS & NEEDS: Eichenwald describes “employee focus” as “A type of corporate giving that’s driven by either the immediate needs or interests of a company’s employees, and it can be a highly effective way to solicit donations.” Case in point: when Big Brothers Big Sisters informed Rachel Hutchisson, director of corporate citizenship and philanthropy at Blackbaud, that 20 employees were volunteering there, the company made a donation in their honor.

3) MAXIMIZE LOCAL CONTRIBUTIONS: Recent research from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy indicates that 50 percent of all corporate donations over $1 million between 2000-2011 were given to organizations within their home state (60 percent within the same region). Eichenwald cites Amanda Ponzar, communications director for United Way Worldwide, who states, “Most companies are very community focused and want to contribute, as do their employees,” adding, “It’s just about finding the right project or focus that maximizes the company’s strength and interests.”

4) SHARED GOALS FOR LASTING PARTNERSHIPS: One-time gifts are nice, but most agencies want to build enduring partnerships to sustain giving. Ponzar outlines her strategy: “When we approach a company, it’s to talk BIG-PICTURE about their dreams for the community, for America and for the world, and where we have mutual points of intersection,” adding, “We don’t want to just come in and talk about money. Our goal is to find alignment with the company’s interests — whether it’s employee engagement, philanthropic and business priorities, foundation focus areas, etc.”




What’s your perspective on corporate giving? Other successful approaches?

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