We‘ve been keeping our ears, eyes and minds very much open ever since the impact of COVID-19 on all of our lives became a very real thing. We’ve had to take a panoramic view across all of our services in the same way we recommend our clients take a bird’s-eye view of their fundraising activity.
We all know events have been affected in a big way, as has community fundraising. But let’s not forget our friends the corporate fundraisers. Corporate fundraising can be tough at the best of times but, given the pressure on businesses’ finances and the likely increase in requests for charitable support, the scale of the task is now even greater. Unless your charity provides a key and direct role in tackling or dealing with the consequences of the virus, brand new corporate funding and partnership opportunities are likely to be few and far between.
But that doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels. It’s going to be a tough few months, so now’s the time to be putting out feelers, talking to contacts and being more creative and more determined than you’ve ever been before.
Put friend-raising before fundraising
So, we’ve been told, we can go back to work. And many of your corporate partners will be back at their desks soon, too. Of course, charity partnerships may not be their number one priority right now, but we’re sure that a friendly ‘hello’ and catch-up call with a business contact would be well received. Simply having a chat, comparing your respective lockdown highs and lows, showing empathy for their own situation and re-establishing lines of communication would, at this stage, be a positive step forward.
What we’re talking about here is ‘friend-raising’ – strengthening the rapport with those already familiar with your work. Such a conversation may well then lead onto the right moment to ‘make the ask’ – next week or in three months’ time, who knows! But, as previous supporters, such companies are likely to care how the pandemic has affected your charity’s finances, services and beneficiaries and look sympathetically on any requests for support.
Carefully consider your case for support
We’ve long, long been shouting about the dangerous habit of working in silos but now, more than ever, cross-organisational collaboration is a must. Your charity’s individual-giving team has, if appropriate, most likely put out a plea for support in the form of an urgent appeal (if you haven’t, and you want one, we can help!). And that’s your case for support right there. You can use the key messages within as the framework for the conversation – when you’ve decided the time is right – with those companies with which you have an existing relationship. Plus, if your cause is linked to healthcare, hospices, hospitals, the NHS or the response to the pandemic in any way then that should be your focus and the most natural way to re-engage your business contacts.
If your work is not directly related to COVID-19, your best bet is to highlight how your fundraising and your finances have been impacted and what this will mean for your beneficiaries. In either scenario, you need to be crystal clear about what help you need and why you need it. But, most important of all: THINK STRATEGICALLY. What’s in it for the company? What can you offer them in return? How does what you’re offering enable them to achieve their own business objectives?
Wherefore art events? Online, that’s where!
The mass cancellation of events this spring and summer has also, unsurprisingly, had a knock-on effect on corporate relationships, which depend upon those big, fun, challenging activities to inspire and motivate employees. Such opportunities haven’t been lost entirely, they’ve just shifted online. So, there are still plenty of ways to engage staff virtually, via online events and home-based fundraising. Read more about our thoughts on virtual fundraising here.
Support isn’t always financial
Your corporate partners will need to look after themselves first – but, there will come a point when they’ll tune into the bigger picture. And, if they don’t have funds available, see if, together, you can devise creative solutions to a handful of your charity’s ‘problems’. Some employees will still be furloughed, which means there are literally thousands of home-based businesspeople around the UK with time on their hands – an incredible potential resource if charities can inspire them and harness their support for mutual benefit. Could furloughed employees provide telephone befriending support to some of your beneficiaries, for example, or could unused company buildings or vehicles be given a charitable purpose in the short-term?
Want to chat about it?
We’d love to have a conversation about your corporate plans and offer any advice we can. As with our trusts offer of a Zoom chat, we’re also offering a free discussion on your corporate fundraising strategy (other video-calling platforms are available!) 😊. So say hello if you’d like to take that up! Pebblebeach are here to help you make sense of this complex new environment and to provide whatever support you need.