2020 has been a year when nothing was in the right order. Carefully laid plans in January were out of date by March and ancient history by May. Being agile and adaptive were strengths this year.
But in the rush to adapt and push normal processes aside, we’ve seen some less than effective prospecting for corporate partners.
The “aim, fire, ready” approach has seen some non-profits put their need to fill urgent income gaps ahead of proper strategic thinking about the right corporate prospects. More time spent on getting ready before pulling the trigger to approach a corporate will yield much better outcomes.
A better fit
More targeted prospecting, based on a clear understanding of your own organisation’s needs, assets and offering will ensure better strategic alignment and reduce reputation risk. We know of a surf life saving charity that produced a glossy brochure, lovely video and very slick proposal to a large retailer. But they hadn’t bothered to contact the retailer first to see if it actually met their needs or was a good fit for their corporate priorities. Unsurprisingly, the charity got doughnuts for their effort. You need to do your research about your corporate prospects. That includes an initial meeting to uncover their priorities and needs.
Better leverage from board contacts
If you’ve done your preparation well, you’ll have a targeted, well-defined list of prospects. This will help you tap into the contacts and introductions from your board and leadership more effectively. You’ll be able to tell them who you are targeting, why and the type of introduction you need. Board members are busy people who need help with partnerships and fundraising. One microfinance charity took this to another level by training their board members and ambassadors to make approaches and providing key questions and scripts to help them do it. If you build trust with board members, they’ll respond with better quality engagement and valuable introductions to corporate prospects.
Better use of time
We talked recently about why the BRW Top 100 is not a prospecting list. Whilst there is some truth in the old adage ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’, it’s also true that you can waste a lot of time chasing dead ends. Just because a corporate has posted a large profit doesn’t mean they are keen to fix your sudden gap in income. Use your time and scarce resources more wisely with a smaller, targeted list of prospects. Don’t risk team burnout by expecting random approaches to stone cold relationships.
More professional approaches
You’ll get more yes’s if you take time to refine your prospecting and make it as professional as possible. We talked with the community manager at a large FMCG this week. She’d received hundreds of unsolicited approaches in recent months from non-profits of all sizes. What was disappointing was the quality of the proposals. Often, they were long and wordy, lacked proof reading and contained spelling errors. Sometimes they had date errors and referred to a ‘new program’ for 2015. Most notably the proposals had no connection to her FMCG company at all. They were standard template approaches that made no effort to even refer to the company, let alone tailor to her publicly stated priorities. It was clearly a case of “aim, fire…”without being ready at all.
We know that there are plenty of juicy partnership opportunities ready for you in 2021. We’ve talked to many corporates that are keen to do more for the community. The FMCG company that received such disappointing approaches reported a 63% increase on average giving from their in-store fundraising, despite the COVID year.
You wouldn’t leave the house with your zipper undone or your skirt tucked into your knickers. Don’t miss out on valuable corporate partnerships by failing to do the work to get ready. Invest the time to do it right and your prospecting will be much more successful in 2021.
If you need help to be ready for new partnerships, here’s how we can help…
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