In recent years, many companies have become corporate donors by embracing corporate social responsibility (CSR), a concept through which companies integrate environmental conservation and social concerns in their business operations. When conducted in good faith, CSR benefits a corporation and its stakeholders.
Through CSR, a corporation is able to demonstrate the social good of its products and services. CSR enables companies to achieve a balance in economic, environmental and social impacts (The triple Bottom Line).Many companies have discovered that programs that have good Public Relation’s (PR’s ) values are often high in demand.
Over the last few years, companies in Kenya have become more aware of the importance of sustainability and started integrating CSR into their operations. Thus, NGOs working in the same communities with companies with CSR programs have an opportunity to work and benefit from these companies.
Raising money from corporations is not easy. Therefore, if you want to seek funding from corporations, you should be patient and be prepared to endure a long difficult process. The process can be broken down into the following two steps:
- Research: You should research available corporations to identify those that fit into your NGO’s programs. Review their profiles and CSR programs to understand their focus and what they are looking for,before making applications.
- Engage: Look and establish a connection with the right person in the company who will most likely help you get funding. The right person will be able to guide you through the company’s application process and requirements.
How to approach Corporate Donors
Partnering with corporate sponsors requires trust and shared interests. Therefore, your non-profit organization should be prepared to be flexible to create a mutually beneficial partnership. You should be prepared to invest time and resources to build a lasting relationship with corporate donors.
Some the issues you should consider before approaching a corporate donor include:
- Location: Corporate donors are likely to fund projects and countries where they are located, have branches ,operations, or distributors. For example, a mobile manufacturer will only fund projects or locations where it has operations, while an oil companies will only fund projects and organizations where it has interests or drilling operations.
- Shared interests: Corporate donors prefer to fund projects and organizations that share same interests, values and vision .For example, economic empowerment, education, environment conservation, etc.
- Sector: Corporate donors favor organizations involved in their sector of operations. For example, food-processing companies will support livelihoods & agriculture development, while manufacturing companies will support vocational/skills training, innovation,etc.
Before approaching a corporate donor, you should do your research thoroughly to avoid associating with corporations that may put your organization’s reputation at risk. Additionally, remember that some corporations practice green washing (or white washing) to present a socially or environmentally friendly image ,while covering unethical practices, scandals or vices.
Steps in approaching a corporate donor
There are different possible ways to approach a corporate donor. Below are some steps you can follow:
- Research Corporation in your locations to identify the ones in your field (health, environment. Livelihoods, etc.). Then, identify any connections you may already have through your staff, board of directors, etc.) or need to develop.
- Research the organizations history (i.e. background, mission & vision,BOD,past & current donations, strategies & development,etc)
- Identify potential mutual benefits, and what you can ask from the corporation.
- Directly contact the corporation to present your organization’s expertise. Be prepared to present innovative attractive ideas.
- Highlight what your organization will offer in return (i.e. visibility, publicity, public acknowledge, etc.).
- Prepare and sent a letter of intent .In the letter, present your organization’s request, why the corporation should support you and what they will get in return.
- After a couple of weeks, if you have not heard from the corporation, contact the corporation directly or request a meeting to discuss your request further.
- Once you receive a donation, do not forget to thank the corporation for their support. Keep in touch and ensure you submit reports as per corporation’s guidelines. You can also invite the corporation members to visit and assess the impact of their donation.