In the past decade there’s been a revolution in the way corporations support non-profits.
By law, corporations are permitted to give up to 10 percent of their pre-tax earnings to philanthropy; however, most only give one percent. But ever since the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska and the Cone and Roper Marketing Studies, corporations have dramatically increased their sponsorships of special events and other cause related marketing activities.
For the past six years, Richard Male and Associates has traveled around the country helping non-profit groups and associations design corporate partnership packages. These packages have greatly helped the non-profits receive support from and build relationships with corporations.
So, you ask, “Why would a big corporation want to help fund my little non-profit?” Read on, we’ll tell you why.
- Enlightened self-interest. Corporations know it’s within their best self- interest to support communities where their employees live and their customers shop. They also like to support their employees’ colleges, as well as hospitals and cultural arts institutions their employees go to.
- Location, location, location. Corporations are primarily interested in helping the communities in which they operate.
- Good corporate image and citizenship. Corporations want to present a certain “image” to the community, so they support organizations in the community that can help engender that image.
- Key leadership is involved. Corporations frequently support non-profits in which their CEO is directly involved.
- Employee involvement. Some corporations support non-profits their employees are involved in.
- What’s in it for me? A lot of companies are tying their gifts into some tangible “return on investment.” In other words, something has to be in it for the company like visibility, credibility, or increased sales.
- Entering a new market. When a company enters a new city or market, they will frequently begin to support a local non-profit or two as a way to introduce themselves to the community. They will align themselves with a non-profit that has a large constituency, credibility, and people they feel comfortable working with.
- Corporate public policy. Corporations sometimes support non-profits that will enhance their ability to pass public policy. Medical non-profits typically receive dollars from pharmaceutical corporations for this very reason. Be careful of the ethical issues on this one.
- Turn-around a poor image. If a corporation wants to turn around its image it will look for non-profits that represent a specific constituency. This has happened often with companies such as Coors Brewing Company (they are now involved in supporting minority organizations), Sears Roebuck (women’s organizations), and Texaco (African American organizations).
- Increase their bottom-line profits. Demonstrate that your organization has a constituency that can generate direct sales for a company. We’ve worked with Jewish organizations that have developed partnerships with Mercedes and Audi dealerships; boys and girls clubs that now partner with sporting good stores; and neighborhood groups that have partnered with local restaurants.