Monday, 17 February 2014

Corporate relationship building - brick by brick

Hannah (@hannahbrodie) here again, following up from last week's blog: Corporate fundraising: tilling the ground 

This time, I'm looking at how to begin to build a relationship with a new corporate contact. 

What makes one company more likely to give to a project than another? Always be on the look-out for common values and a mutually beneficial opportunity. You won’t necessarily be aware of the exact synergy until you’ve met. Maybe the company wants to promote their brand to a group that you are engaged with. Perhaps your aims fit in with their own corporate social responsibility strategy.

Be open to ideas. I’ve often met with a company, certain that I’ll return to the office with funding for a specific project and ended up working up a proposal for something completely different. 
What’s hugely important, and often overlooked, is that a relationship needs to be built and nurtured just as in any other area of fundraising. Remember, corporate contacts are people too - and you’re likely to develop good relationships with more than one individual in a company. Don’t judge by job title or rank, sometimes it’s those you least expect that will have the final say. Be nice!

Other considerations… 

Ethics - Are alarm bells ringing about the ethics of a potential relationship? Does your organisation have an ethical policy that you need to adhere to? If you have any concerns at all, do not ignore them. Investigation and research are very important. Don't risk upsetting your existing donor base. 

Negotiate - Don’t agree to everything that a company wants, just because you want to make sure you get something. They are a business and their business is to make money. They are used to trying to get as much as they can - learn from them! Make sure that what they are offering is of benefit to you and that you aren’t compromising by giving them too much for too little. 

Delivery - Be certain you can deliver on your promises: there is no quicker way to destroy a relationship than to fail in the delivery. Don’t agree if you are unsure. If problems become apparent after an agreement has been reached, then don’t be afraid to communicate and find a solution rather than keeping it quiet. Honesty and transparency are always appreciated and allow the best creative solutions to be found and deeper, trusting relationships to develop.

Be patient - Developing a bespoke, mutually beneficial partnership can take time.

Most of all, have fun! You are (hopefully!) in the position that you are in because you enjoy meeting people and like the challenge of finding creative solutions to interesting problems. 

Relevant posts


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  2. Thank you Derrick, much appreciated. There are a few more of mine on here - you can click on 'Hannah's posts' under 'Labels' (above the comments) to find them. Thanks, Hannah.