Say the Magic Words for More Corporate Sponsorships

In previous posts, I’ve encouraged you to ditch the “Olympic medal” mentality and focus on creating corporate sponsorship benefits that meet the prospect’s goals. Here to echo the theme – and provide two really helpful phrases you can use right away Continue reading

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A Winning Formula for Prospect Meetings


Hi, my name is Kim and I like to work with nonprofit organizations, travel, read (especially mysteries), try new … yada… yada… yada…

 Overwhelm you yet?

That might be what it sounds like when you meet with a prospective corporate funder for the very first time. The challenges your nonprofit is trying to solve are complex. (If they were easy, you would have solved them already, right?) So it’s understandable that you are tempted to paint a detailed picture of what your organization does and who it benefits.

Clear the clutter by turning that thinking upside down. Instead, try this formula for your next prospect meeting: Continue reading

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Mailbag: Make Your Partnership Proposal Stand Out from the Pack

Q: What elements of our proposal might be considered advantageous when compared with other opportunities the prospect may have?

A:  There are two simple things you can do to make your proposal stand head and shoulders above the rest.

First, ditch the Olympic medal mentality. A blind proposal offering “bronze, silver or gold” lists of benefits at menu pricing is still being offered, but it’s not the most attractive or up-to-date model. Apart from conferences, it doesn’t work very well either. How do you make the medal levels distinctive when you’re asking for funds to carry out a program over the course of several months or a year? How will you establish benefits when the audience is far-flung instead of gathered in a ballroom? Wise nonprofits don’t.

Second, ask smart questions to find out more about the prospect’s marketing goals, then tailor your proposal to address them. If you can address at least two common goals in your proposal, you will be well ahead of the pack.

Mazarine, fundraising guru and blogger at, has a list of questions to help nonprofits discover common ground with their prospective funders. I particularly like five of her questions:

  1. Do you want to enhance aspects of your company’s reputation? Asking this will help you get beyond assumptions and learn more about the company’s priorities. A company you assumed wanted to focus on environmental responsibility may really be trying to become known as a great place to work.
  2. What do you most want the public to know about your company? There may be plans on the drawing board that you’re not yet aware of… new products, shifting demographics, or even a new mission statement.
  3. Are you facing challenges in attracting or maintaining a motivated or skilled workforce? Companies that encourage employees to volunteer are more likely to be listed as great workplaces. Providing volunteer opportunities may be the win-win start to a great relationship with your prospective funder.
  4. Would aligning with this nonprofit give your prospective funder a competitive edge? (If not, how did this company make it from your “suspect” list to your “prospect” list, right?)
  5. Are there specific products you are trying to position? The answer may provide food for thought.

Making the connection: To stand out from the pack, break out of the Olympic medal mode and demonstrate how your nonprofit can help the company meet its business goals. Do you have favorite questions to add to the list above?

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Celebrations: After the Happy Dance

A recent LinkedIn discussion centered on how nonprofits celebrate when they win a grant. Turns out, many “do the happy dance!” One writer reported her organization rings a cow bell so that everyone hears the good news. Another indulges in small treats, such as a cupcake or a new e-book.

What’s missing?

Or who? That’s right, the funder! After all, it takes two to tango, and even the Harlem Shake is no fun if you do it alone. If funded nonprofits want to talk about how they celebrate, so should funders. So let’s ask them.

In fact, let’s put it in a quick, five or six question survey that goes out with our sincere letter of thanks. Now, I’m not talking about the tax receipt telling your funder their check has been received. I’m talking about a personal letter – the old-fashioned, snail-mail kind – that shares your enthusiasm about how your organization will be able to provide better service, serve more people or do whatever your proposal promised. (If you don’t already have one, Pamela Grow offers a great template thank-you letter complete with a sample P.S. for the survey.)

The “Partnership Kick-Off Survey” might ask:

  1. How do you prefer to be contacted (email, telephone, postal mail)?
  2. How often do you want to hear about the program you’re funding?
  3. What recognition do you find most meaningful? (Just as people are introverted or extroverted, funders may want public or private recognition. A plaque in the lobby is not a one-size-fits-all celebration.)
  4. Can we announce your contribution in a news release, newsletter, or in other ways?
  5. What should we use in program materials (your organization’s full name, logo, approved description, etc.)?
  6. Can we have a copy of your report form now, so that we capture and track the details that are most important to you?

Then close it with another thank you: We look forward to continuing the conversation about how your funding helps create X, Y or Z.

Making the Connection: Who wants a thank-you letter from a dance party they weren’t invited to attend? Let’s start inviting our funders to help us celebrate by asking what kind of recognition is most meaningful to them.

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