This guide provides useful advice on how to prepare for a meeting with a potential corporate partner to ensure your ‘ask’ is presented in a way that complements your potential partner’s business activities.
“Sitting down with someone, expecting them to invest in your world, without having done your research about their world is at best a massive missed opportunity” Steve Wickham, Founding Director, The Giving Department
If you want and need to secure funding from businesses you have to commit to understanding them and the industry in which they operate. Therefore, if you are not already excited by the world of business it is important you find a way to bring it to life. If you don’t know where to start, spend time on the business website of a brand you admire, or read about an industry that interests you, e.g. fashion, sport,design.
For some people, big business can represent a lot that is wrong in the world. If you are one of these people, start by learning more about ethical business practices – check out Forbes top 50 ethical businesses.
Focus your research
Find out the following through their website:
What does their business do? What industry are they part of – construction? Technology? Financial services?
This is the essential basics but you also might identify ways that your organisation’s work complements that of your potential funders. E.g. an education charity based in South East Asia that is working in a country deemed as an emerging market for a financial services company.
Who are their clients?
You may already be working with one of their clients or be connected with a client of theirs in some way. This can add weight to your conversations because a partnership with you may further strengthen the businesses’ link with its client.
Where are they based? Do they have more than one office? Are they global?
Quite simply a case of establishing geographic similarities and ideally being able to say ‘we are where you are’.
How has their business evolved over time?
Notice what sort of language and imagery they are using. What their values and mission
Understanding where a business has come from often helps explain its culture. Exploring
how you fit alongside a company’s values and culture can be key to securing a partnership.
Have they been in the news recently? If not, what was their last press story about?
What is in the press is what is going to be important to them. There might also be hints in there as to where a charity partnership could help the business – e.g. reputational issues, unite employees during difficult times (acquisition, merger etc.), excellent profits therefore money to give away!
Who is their CEO? How long have they been in post?
Employees may mention them by name, it is important you know who they are referring to.
Understanding a little bit about the CEO, their background, how long they have been in post will give you a better understanding of the organisation.
How many employees do they have?
This is not always easy to find out but useful for giving you a sense of size and therefore potential to engage, fundraise from etc.
Are they sponsoring anything – a sporting event, cinema experiences etc?
There may well be ways to link in with sponsorships to demonstrate an alignment of
brand. E.g. UKSA, a sailing charity on the Isle of Wight, being supported by Aberdeen Asset Management who sponsor Cowes Week. This partnership reinforces AAM’s presence with this affluent audience; not only do they sponsor the prestigious event, they also give back to the community where it is held through the sport.
Do they have a Corporate Community Investment (CCI) or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy?