There are ways to stand out that are memorable and ways that are best avoided.
My brother was on his way to the office to meet his new boss. He wore his best suit and had a fresh shave to make a good first impression. But he didn’t realise that he had cut himself shaving and had bled all over his clean white shirt. As it was London, and British people on the underground would rather chew broken glass than speak to a stranger, no-one said a word. He entered the office reception looking like John Hurt after the alien had burst out of his chest.
You want to make an impression but ensure it’s the right one. When a corporate prospect invites you to submit an expression of interest, it’s an opportunity to showcase the best of your organisation. There are 5 things you can do to make it shine.
Read the brief
Yes, really read it. Highlight the key areas of importance and make sure you’ve addressed them. You may be unlucky to have a boss that values activity over outcomes, but it’s not worth your time if your organisation doesn’t fit the criteria. Don’t be like Cinderella’s ugly sisters trying to squeeze into the glass slipper.
Examples are proof points that show you can deliver what you claim. It builds the confidence of the corporate that they are investing in the right charity partner. They could be examples of your engaging digital content or awesome storytelling. Even better if you can cite examples of what you’ve achieved for other corporate partners and the success you’ve achieved together.
We often talk about building an evidence bank of testimonials, stories and case studies that you can draw upon. This requires a bit of planning on your part, to ensure you gather this from each corporate partner before the partnership ends. How often do you thank a corporate partner for their support, but forget to gather all the evidence of success?
Know your key assets
When a big opportunity presents itself, there’s a temptation to give the corporate everything in the cupboard. It’s like an expectant parent walking into a Baby Bunting store and just handing over their wallet. If you have a thorough catalogue of your assets you can shape the offer to meet the main priorities of your corporate prospects. Don’t include things that aren’t necessary or relevant (see point 1- read the brief!). You may have amazing volunteer opportunities but if they want digital content for their PR, you’re only using up a valuable asset that could be more useful with another partner.
We live in a generation that has a world of information only a few clicks away. Do your background research on the corporate, find out their likely pain points and key drivers. If you have connections in your network, ask them about what’s going on inside the organisation. If the corporate has offered a contact point for questions, then make sure you use it. Every little piece of intelligence can help you dig behind the headlines to their unspoken issues- and how your submission can nail the solutions. If you’re going on a first date, you’d check your date’s social media to see if they like dogs, music or Qanon conspiracies. Make sure you do the same research on your corporate prospect.
Every corporate partner would like to share in the success of the partnership and demonstrate their social purpose credentials. Make sure you can outline clearly the impact and outcomes of their support in a way that’s easily understood. If the partnership is successful, then the corporate will want to tell their audiences about it. It’s your opportunity to inspire them with what’s possible and the transformation you could achieve by working together. A quick tip- avoid program jargon. “Providing safe and affordable healthcare for girls” works much better than “empowering communities through collaborative capability building and implementing a best practice theory of change”. Trust me on that one.
An expression of interest or grant submission to a corporate partner is your chance to shine. Make sure you’ve got a clean shirt and you’re best dressed for the opportunity.