Photo: YWCA Montreal team at Scotiabank Charity Challenge / Défi Caritatif Montreal 2015
I used to think that 13 was an unlucky number, but I changed my mind a few years ago. A brand awareness survey found that 13% of non-client respondents were likely to do business with our company because it sponsored community events and charities they cared about.
Our corporate marketing team got lucky because the 13% result surpassed expectations, justified budget renewal and provided proof that our corporate philanthropy program benefited business goals.
According to Imagine Canada, a national charitable organization that represents the charitable sector, charities and non-profits receive around $2.8 billion from corporations. The majority of corporations contribute to charities because they understand that healthy communities are good for business.
But corporate philanthropy is becoming more challenging. And many of the more than 150,000 charitable organizations in Canada are down on their luck.
Thirty-eight percent of companies said that too many charities are trying to solicit money for the same cause. Traditional cheque book philanthropy is rapidly being replaced by strategic partnerships that benefit both the community and corporate donors.
With shrinking government funding, charities are challenged to find the best way of raising funds from corporate and individual donors. But this presents an opportunity for charities to find unique and creative ways to raise the funds needed for survival.
How to raise funds for charity? Help corporations to be successful
A few suggestions that charitable organizations may want to consider…
Pride of association
Charitable organizations can support business by bringing together donors at in-person events to raise funds and network. Out of this comes pride of association with like-minded peers who share the same concerns and commitment to the charitable cause.
- A good example is the United Way of Ottawa’s GenNEXT Giving Circle. United Way organizes networking and fundraising events and initiatives where young people can learn about the needs in their community, volunteer their time, and put their dollars to work where they will have the greatest impact.
Shared community of buyers and donors
Charitable organizations can also support client engagement and expand the number of clients for corporations. By creating strategic partnerships charities and corporations can launch major events to promote products and build public awareness of the charity’s cause, with the intention of building a shared community of donors and clients.
- A few years ago, The Salvation Army partnered with Montreal-based designers and staged a fashion show to raise funds for L’Abri d’espoir, a shelter for abused women and their children. The event was used to leverage the brands of the charity and of the fashion designers to create a shared community of buyers and donors who support the cause of protecting women from violence.
Community and employee engagement
Apart from soliciting donations from corporations who care about their causes, charitable organizations should also ask corporations to volunteer their expertise. Charitable organizations can organize employee volunteer activities that support employee engagement and strengthen teamwork.
- According to Volunteer Canada, employer-supported volunteering (ESV) is emerging as a regular practice among many of today’s employers seeking to give back to the community. ESV activities and programs are a new “shared value” approach, helping businesses strengthen community relationships and improve employee engagement. They also give non-profits access to new resources and skills while allowing employees to refine and enhance their skills and expand their networks.
Sharing information for thought leadership
Charitable organizations are well-placed to provide valuable data and insights on the causes they advocate and the services they provide. This information can be shared with thought leaders and persons of influence who have access to the podiums at thought leadership events. Many chambers of commerce and think tanks host events attended by the audiences that are likely to become interested in the charitable organizations’ causes. Through thought leadership, corporations can increase their reputation as experts in a particular industry or as key contributors to the quest for solutions in fields such as healthcare and economic development.
Adopt business practices
Although well-intentioned tactics can be used to solicit financial support, charities cannot rely on luck and goodwill.
The common element in all of these suggestions is the creation of relationships with the aim of engaging corporations in committed partnerships that lead to sustained support for charitable organizations.
Like for-profit corporations, charitable organizations must adopt business practices to increase awareness by creating differentiated messages and developing relationships that provide a mutual exchange of benefits. This requires deliberate planning with the aim of achieving specific outcomes that are good for charities, businesses and communities.
See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.