Ask a Business Coach: Nonprofit Q&A Week 4

Shelley SmithBlog, Workplace Culture


Week 4 on our Q&A for nonprofits. Keep the questions coming!

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), there are more than 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S. The NCCS also estimates that nonprofits represent 9.2% of annual American wages and salaries. Nonprofits are serious business, which is why I have partnered with NetworkPeninsula to offer business training sessions to nonprofit leaders and staff. I am also answering questions about nonprofit operations over the next several weeks on the blog.

Money Tree, Currency, Growth.

Q: What’s the right way for nonprofits to network and when should they go in for the big ask?

A: No matter a nonprofit’s size or mission, the key is to build real, genuine relationships. Any nonprofit can implement a corporate giving program, however, you can increase your chances for success by choosing the right partner and demonstrating how a relationship is mutually beneficial. With the following practices in mind, you can reel in corporate contributions to maximize your fundraising!


  1. Choose your partnerships wisely. When seeking corporate giving opportunities, it’s extremely important to choose a compatible partner. Make no mistake, failing to choose wisely can stir up controversy and damage your organization’s reputation. In your search, make sure to identify a partner who aligns with your organization’s mission and core values.
  1. Prepare a value proposition. Keep in mind that you will need to demonstrate the value of a partnership to the companies you approach. Beyond creating social impact, what incentives can you offer corporations that give back your organization? Ask yourself these questions: What impact will the company be making in the community? Will their contributions gain positive publicity? One great approach is to offer businesses the option to sponsor a donation matching campaign. This allows them to double the impact of their contributions, and it also maximizes their brand’s exposure to your organization’s audience.
  1. Look at non-monetary options. Nonprofits are quick to seek large grants or contributions, but monetary gifts are not the only form of corporate giving. In fact, many corporations opt to give in-kind support, like donated goods or staff expertise. This type of contribution helps to fulfill their philanthropic values, fuel the nonprofit’s mission, and engage their employees. Rather than simply asking for a check up front, requesting in-kind support may help a relationship with a corporate giving partner start off on the right foot. Identify local businesses whose missions coincide with yours, and explore ways they might donate goods or staff expertise to support your cause. This type of meaningful support can help forge a strong partnership.
  1. Build your relationships, campaigns, and options ahead of time. Attend key networking events and start creating those authentic face-to-face relationships right away. Put together a sample toolkit to show potential donors how they can tap into the partnership branding and what kind of potential brand exposure they can expect with their donation. Create sample social media posts, e-mail templates showcasing photos from your fieldwork, video testimonials by beneficiaries and volunteers, personal messages from staff or board members, hashtag campaigns or other social media engagement so you have examples of how your group can provide additional marketing opportunities for potential donors.

You’ve got questions, I’ve got answers! Drop me a line at and I will answer your question on my blog for FREE.

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