5 things to think about…
1) Always look to past donors first. They know you best and you most likely have a person inside the organization you know and who will answer your calls or emails. If you don’t you are in for a long haul. Emails to people who don’t know you, or cold letters or phone calls, are rarely answered. So don’t waste your time.
2) Access means everything when you are seeking any type of corporate gift; outright, program specific, sponsorship, gifts in kind. If you do not have a connection already, look to your board for peer connections. Your proposal stands little chance among the thousands submitted each year to the company if you do not have access to corporate decision makers.
3) Granted, many companies have taken to the on-line application process to handle the deluge of requests. But if you can call the office and speak to someone, you are one step ahead. If your proposal has short window, ask if it can be fast tracked. Call to make sure the company has all the documents it needs. Get the person’s name and direct number for future reference. Establish a personal connection. You will be amazed at what administrative assistants can do.
4) Don’t believe it when the company website says “unsolicited proposals not accepted.” If you have a good fit, try anyway. You might just find a sympathetic ear.
5) Read the Wall Street Journal regularly – for news about your corporate prospects. Have they merged or acquired another company, changed their name, have a new product or success, new marketing strategy, new leaders, etc. Anything that can give your approach, be it a letter, phone call or targeted proposal more relevance to what matters to them.
Finally, start well ahead for a decision in NEXT year’s budget. Certainly before the fourth quarter of the year. And once your get a gift, keep the company informed of outcomes and let them know well in advance when the next big event will take place. Asking for a renewed gift now that you are on their radar is much easier than seeking a gift from a “cold’ company.
Posted by Michael Brodie, Managing Partner