Welcome to the second part of my blog about how charities can achieve corporate funding. Having seen both sides of the fence, I’ve hopefully picked up some useful stuff.
Last time I suggested ways to make corporate donors see you as a ‘match’. This time, using tips from my current organisation’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team, I’m suggesting ways to approach funding even if there’s no immediate ‘click’ – and it’s all about people.
2. Corporates may have charitable funds up for grabs that no-one externally would know exists. My organisation, for example, gives a significant number of grants to charities nominated by its staff every year. These charities can be anything and everything – they don’t have to fit any set criteria. Having a network of people ‘on the inside’ who can apply for such awards in the name of your charity is invaluable here, and even more so for charities that champion the ‘non-cuddly- causes that might otherwise not get a look-in.
3. Challenge your own assumptions about who may be vetting your application. In my organisation, far from being hard-faced bean counters, our small CSR team is made up of ex-charity employees. They understand the voluntary sector, they have open minds and – perhaps most importantly – the trustees respect what they think. I’m sure my organisation is not unique – get someone in the CSR/ charity team engaged and you may be on to a winner.
4. Just because you don’t fit the current criteria, or the deadline has closed, doesn’t have to mean game over. You never know when new funding will become available for something new, or niche. Make your case, leave your details and give the company’s contact credit when they say they’ll get in touch ‘if something comes up in the future.’ Despite the sheer volume of applications our CSR team receives, if a case is well made, they will keep it in their head and re-visit it when the time is right.
5. Does everyone who might be in a position to engage with a corporate’s staff, Chief Exec or CSR team have your charity’s key messages down pat? Do you? You never know when you, a staff member or a volunteer might get their ‘3 minutes in the lift’ opportunity – or when someone might phone back to learn more. Making sure anyone in your charity – and everyone you’ve co-opted – knows your Unique Selling Point and key messages means you will always be prepared to exploit any opportunity that comes your way.
6. Conversely, be concise. Don’t dump your charity’s entire chapter and verse on those in a position to champion your cause, either in a letter, an email or in person. Think of this in the same way that newspaper editors approach overlong press releases – they cut from the bottom up. If you’ve only got the equivalent of three minutes make sure the ‘so what?’ stuff is right there in the first or second paragraph. The fact that your charity was founded in 1872 may be a proud part of its history, but do you really want to waste 30 seconds on history when you could be explaining its impact on people’s lives today?
Doesn’t work for you? Don’t despair; my next and final blog is, ‘When all else fails’……
'Sush Amar worked as a senior manager at the Charity Commission and is now a strategic communications writer for a major financial institution, She is also a charity trustee.'