Company donations can be some of the largest gifts a nonprofit will receive, but how do you get them? The process of finding and receiving these donations is fairly simple but not always quick. Nonprofits should not look at these company gifts as a single donation but as a relationship that needs to be built and encouraged.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the 10 steps to secure company donations. We’ll also take a look at six major companies that offer nonprofit donation, volunteer, and sponsorship programs.
10 Steps to Get Donations from Companies
1. Create a shortlist of companies
While companies like Walmart, Amazon, and Google may feel like the best places to solicit, to get the best results you want to start where you already have connections. But companies are overwhelmed with nonprofits asking for donations, so you may be out of luck without a personal connection.
It is best practice to go through your donor list and find the companies that have donated or volunteered for your organization in the past. This way, you may already have the right contact person as well. You can also leverage any corporate-nonprofit partnerships you’ve established in the past.
Pro tip: If you are using a donor management tool, you probably already know where your donors work. Leverage your earnest donors and supporters for getting connected with the right person for soliciting donations. You should ask your volunteers as well.
2. Identify your channel
When soliciting companies for donations, you never want to address a letter with “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Friend.” The likelihood of that letter getting read is slim. Instead, you need to find the best person to contact regarding your donation request. This person will depend on the size of the organization and your request.
If you are soliciting a larger organization, you may want to find a marketing or volunteer manager. If it is a smaller company, you can go directly for the CEO. Your choice here is essential to get noticed at all.
3. Recover lapsed donors
When was the last time a company donated to your nonprofit? Researching past donations can be a great start to finding company gifts.
If it has been a while since the company gave to your nonprofit, there is a high chance of turnover. This means your contact person is likely no longer with the company, and you will need to make a call. If you are a new staff or board member, you can use this as an opportunity to introduce yourself.
Pro tip: Find out why the company is no longer giving to your nonprofit. Before you ask for donations, do your research. Sometimes even asking directly helps. Did you not share the impact with them last time? Were they expecting something in return for the donations? Did they feel unappreciated? Try and address their concerns before you ask for support.
Donorbox has an article on how to appeal to lapsed donors that may help in this situation. Read more about how to connect with these donors here.
4. Personalize your donation request
Asking for donations can feel awkward at first. After all, why would a company like Walmart or Dick’s Sporting Goods want to donate to your nonprofit at all? This is the type of question you need to answer in your solicitation. Companies are constantly solicited for donations, so your solicitation will not get very far without a good reason for donating.
When writing your solicitation letter, you need to tailor your ask to each company. If you have a connection with the company, and that is the person you are soliciting, you want to remind them of how you first met. But if the person you are addressing is someone else, now is the time to name-drop.
In case the company has given or volunteered for your nonprofit in the past, you should add this in your solicitation letter. The likelihood of getting a second donation is always easier than a first.
Don’t forget about corporate sponsorships! This is a great way to get support for your organizations while giving companies attractive benefits.
5. Explain the impact of the donation
Explaining how their donation will make a difference is vital, especially if they have never heard of your nonprofit before.
Just like individual donors, companies want to hear about success stories and see images of what their donations can do. Your nonprofit should have several of these stories available. When soliciting companies for their donations, you want to add a reason for their assistance. Will their gift fund the building of a school? Uniforms for a child’s sports team? Or help provide healthcare to the community?
These stories add a personal touch to your solicitation letter and increase the chances of getting a donation.
Pro tip: Remember, especially with larger companies, the person you are addressing will likely have to get permission from their superiors to make the gift. Create a great pitch deck that you can use to present about your nonprofit and its impact on this person. They’ll appreciate your efforts and transparency. In fact, they might use your examples and success stories to approach the higher authorities.
6. Provide different donation options
Some companies cannot give cash donations but can still be counted on for different types of offerings. Other companies may be able to provide more significant contributions but need a larger incentive. Here is another place where targeting the company can make a difference.
Do you have a local company that sells a good or service you can use for your beneficiaries or your next event? For instance, do you need items for a silent auction or raffle? Companies are often more willing to give in-kind gifts than cash.
Smaller companies may also be willing to donate volunteer hours instead of cash. If your organization could help fix up a location or run an event, a company donation of volunteers could come in handy.
Finally, is there a company that has given donations in the past but can donate more? An excellent way to solicit a larger donation can be by creating a matching gift campaign. Connect with companies you already have connections with and see if they would be interested in making an even bigger impact. Let them know about the campaign and how a large donation from them would bring in hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars from other sources.
7. Explain what you can offer in return
When soliciting donations, it is always best practice to let them know how they will be compensated. Companies do not give donations out of the goodness in their hearts. It is a business, and without a good reason for donating, you will not receive the gift.
Pro tip: Tax benefits and positive community interactions are the first reasons these companies have to give. Remind them of the benefits of giving to a nonprofit, like how their donation will be seen by their customers.
Marketing perks like including logos, names, and images on online banners or at an event are the most common ways to acknowledge company gifts. Adding their company name to your donor solicitation letters is also appealing to companies since it is free advertising to your entire donor base.
You can also include their name and donation in your annual report or add it to a physical or online donor wall.
8. Always follow up
Soliciting companies is rarely a one-step process. Larger companies may have several people to go through. Even smaller companies may take time to convince. And each step of the way, you need to keep donor cultivation in mind.
You should expect every company solicitation to take the following three steps.
8.1 Letter or email
Your first step will be a letter or email detailing how their donation can make a difference and how they can benefit from their donation. This gives the company a physical reminder to use during the next two steps.
If you have not received the donation after your letter or email, now is not the time to stop. Give them a month or two to receive the letter and think about how they will give. After a reasonable wait time, you can call the organization to speak with the person you have sent the solicitation letter to. If your contact person has left the organization or is no longer in the position, a call could make all the difference.
Larger donations will need an in-person visit. You should be treating these companies the same way you would a potential major donor. Schedule a meeting with your contact person and explain how their donation will be used. Detail how much a matching gift campaign can bring to your organization and the ways their organization will be marketed to the community as a whole.
9. Always say “thank you”
Acknowledging a donation within 48 hours should be second nature to your nonprofit, but even companies that cannot give this year should be thanked for their time.
Think of your solicitations like an interview. You have introduced your nonprofit to the company and can always connect with them in the future. It is best practice to send a thank you email or letter after an interview. The same should be done with every company you have contacted for a donation. Their time is precious to them, and acknowledging that can go a long way.
If a company has donated, a call from a board member can help build this relationship. This call is especially vital if the company has made a significant donation.
10. Send updates and nurture the relationship
An acknowledgment of their gift is only the first step in thanking companies for their donation. To build upon these relationships, you want to send them regular updates on how their donations made an impact and how your nonprofit is making a difference in the community.
These updates can be a great way to continue relationships with companies that have made large donations. If their donations are being used for a matching gift campaign, you should send them updates on how much their gifts have brought in during and after the campaign. You should always send them your annual report, too!
The first company donation is only the beginning. You want this relationship to continue and to turn into a community partnership whenever possible. Emails, social media posts, calls, and in-person meetings should be regularly scheduled to further build this relationship.
6 Best Examples of Companies Who Donate to Nonprofits
Larger companies get solicited from nonprofits all the time, so competition for these donations is fierce. Still, a few companies may offer exactly what your nonprofit is looking for, and you should definitely check them out.
Here are six big companies that donate to nonprofits.
Google is so large that its name is now used as an action. “Googling” something to find more information is now part of our vernacular. That is why Google Ads can make a huge difference in your nonprofit marketing. Google is now offering grants for Google ads. Your nonprofit could receive up to $10,000 in free Google ads every month.
Google for Nonprofits is a dedicated initiative by Google to help nonprofits. Through this program, they offer special nonprofit features of their existing products to support eligible nonprofits. So even if you’re not getting direct monetary benefits, you’ll still be benefiting a lot.
Apart from the ad grants, in this initiative, Google is offering special giving features on YouTube, Google Workspace for nonprofits, and Google Earth and Maps to share impact. In turn, nonprofits need to meet the eligibility criteria and request a Google for Nonprofits account.
Comcast has been promoting giving back to the community for several years with their Comcast Cares Day. During this one day every year, all Comcast employees donate their time to a nonprofit. Nonprofits benefit from the help of these volunteers to fix up a location or support their beneficiaries.
Comcast Cares Day can also be an excellent way to build a relationship with the company. Many nonprofits that have benefited from using volunteers through their Cares Day have also received sponsorships and other donations from the company.
eBay makes it easy for nonprofits to fundraise on their website through the eBay for Charity program. Nonprofits need to register on the site with IRS documents and their EIN. Once they’re eligible, they start receiving funds from sellers and shoppers who support their cause.
Sellers choose a charity they support and designate a portion of their selling price to them. Similarly, the shoppers can donate an amount of up to $25 during checkout to their favorite charity. They can also choose symbolic gifts that give back to the community.
Walmart stores are all over the country, and most communities rely on them to provide the essentials. Nonprofits in these communities can benefit from having a Walmart in their area too. Walmart grants are an excellent option for smaller local organizations or local chapters of larger nonprofits.
Walmart stores offer community grants ranging from $250 – $5,000 to local nonprofits in their area. They have an open application process that runs from February to December for these grants, and nonprofits can apply up to 25 times in a grant cycle.
Disney has more than one nonprofit-specific program to help strengthen its impact on the community. With Double the Donation, they have created a matching gift program to match donations from a minimum of $25 up to $15,000.
Disney has a dedicated volunteer grant program called VoluntEARS. Their cast members can apply for a grant of up to $2,000 for their chosen nonprofit. The amount depends on the number of hours they’ve volunteered in a year. They also reward individual volunteers with a grant amount of up to $2,500 for being the VoluntEARS of the year.
The company also offers financial assistance and in-kind donations to causes and organizations working for –
- Disaster preparedness and relief
- Military families
- Environmental organizations
- Children’s health and hospitals
- Organizations promoting a healthy lifestyle
6. Dick’s Sporting Goods
Dick’s Sporting Goods can be a great solicitation option for Booster Clubs looking for company donations. A nonprofit with a youth sports team located near Dick’s Sporting Goods can receive a donation of up to $25,000 from the company. Your Booster Club may be for basketball, cheerleading, fencing, rowing, or more. Dick’s sporting goods supports all team sports if they are located in their community.
Company donations can benefit a nonprofit in several ways. Whether you are looking for event sponsorships, in-kind donations, grants, or large matching gifts, connecting with these companies is a long process. Company relationships can be cultivated to grow into community partnerships that benefit both organizations. We hope this article gives you a good starting point to build these relationships and find company donations to help your nonprofit grow.
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