Companies can support charitable organisations in a range of ways, from cash donations and donated goods or equipment, to sponsorship, pro bono support and volunteering opportunities for staff.  A growing number of companies are creating Corporate Social Responsibility policies and recognising that supporting charitable organisations can bring positive recognition from their customers and communities; and be a potential way to build loyalty with customers and engage staff, alongside improving the lives of people in the community. Companies can also get tax relief on some giving, so it can be a mutually beneficial partnership.

The amount of funding secured from corporate supporters is generally, relatively much lower than funds secured from Charitable Trusts, Government or individuals, but it can be a useful contributor to your support charitable work.

It is important to carry out research into potential companies before making your approach, to understand whether they have a history of giving, if their brand and values match those of your work and organisation, and how your work could help the business to communicate those values and support their marketing and charitable objectives. If you can identify companies that share similar values and charitable objectives, it will greatly improve your chances of securing meaningful and potentially long-term partnerships.   

There may be opportunities that you could explore through your existing corporate relationships, for example with your suppliers, prominent local companies, or through your committee members,  volunteers or supporters. It is always helpful if you can identify an individual within the organisation to contact, rather than approaching them ‘cold.’ If this isn’t an option, research who the most appropriate initial contact person might be, often marketing contacts deal with supporter arrangements, or a larger company may have a community liaison person.  

Corporate partnerships should be a negotiation to ensure that both your charitable organisation and the business are gaining from the arrangement. However, before you speak to companies, it is helpful to think about what you could offer them and outline some potential ‘packages’ where they could engage with your organisation at different levels, eg sponsorship of an event, annual supporter scheme etc. Offering volunteering opportunities for staff can also be a productive way to build relationships with a company. 

It is useful to think about the kind of ‘benefits’ that your organisation could offer to a company in return for their support, which might include:

  • The company logo on promotional materials, eg posters, leaflets, supporter acknowledgement board etc
  • Adding the logo and links to their website from yours
  • Issuing a press release and social media updates to acknowledge their support, and working with the corporate partner’s marketing to share the news pf their support
  • Invitations to events or to see your work in action, as appropriate
  • Offering the opportunity to host an event at your venue, if appropriate
  • Verbal recognition of their support at a launch, events etc
  • Tailored options for the individual company, to suit their interests, charitable and marketing objectives

When drawing up your possible options though, be proportionate with the support that is being given from the company and be mindful not to overstretch your resources or incur significant additional costs delivering these benefits.

Other useful things to think about as part of your approach:

  • Keep detailed records of the company, contact name, contacts
  • Keep a record of any approaches made and discussions held
  • Follow up any contacts made and provide information in a timely manner
  • Be open to developing relationships with corporate supporters and keep communicating
  • Keep them informed of your organisation’s work through newsletters, updates, invitations to events and activities etc
  • Make sure you deliver on any supporter benefits agreed

Helpful links

Chartered Institute of Fundraising - Corporate fundraising

Chartered Institute of Fundraising - Giving by business