One of the biggest challenges of getting money from corporations is the creation of a strong and qualified prospect list. Often, the organizations that have not traditionally raised money from corporations say they don’t have the prospects or time to implement and execute a campaign.
And sometimes, the organizations that have corporate prospects feel they’ve solicited the same prospects too many times.
Start and or build your list of corporate prospects by having a prospect research session to identify the connections in your network and create strategies for engagement.
Before your session:
Begin with the end in mind; The end game is getting the names of corporate contacts you can solicit, and the commitment from someone to connect you to the corporate prospect. Your ultimate goal is to get a face-to-face meeting (optimal) or a phone conversation with potential corporate prospects.
Consider having an unbiased outsider facilitate your session
Keep your meeting focused and limited to one hour
Who to invite?
Your organization’s stakeholders who are connected to the community (this can be board members, staff members, and volunteers).
Outside “connectors” in your community. Connectors are typically busy but often amenable to helping organizations in an ad hoc capacity
.In your invitation, be clear about the purpose and planned outcome of the meeting.
Prep Your Attendees
Once you have your invitees established, ask them to bring the following to the meeting:
Personal and business contact lists: holiday cards address books, client and colleague lists, etc.
Directories of organizations to which they belong: fraternities and sororities, chambers of commerce, service groups, country clubs, etc.
Lists of corporations that donate to comparable organizations gathered from their annual reports, programs, newsletters, and from public announcements and materials.
Vendors doing business with their respective organization, and the corporations that sponsor similar organizations
Make sure your meeting space is set up comfortably with adequate room for participants to take notes.
Use flip chart paper to capture the information given during the “rapid fire” nature of these sessions.
Reiterate that the prospect research session is a confidential exercise and that the information they share will be handled with the utmost confidentiality and sensitivity.
Starting with the “obvious prospect list” you created, talk about each prospect individually and ask if anyone in the room has connections. Ask participants to dig deep … you never know who knows someone who knows someone.
Record the results.
Give each participant the chance to talk about the prospects on their respective lists. Sometimes, multiple participants will have connections with the same prospect. Determine who has the best connection and assign that person as the lead contact.
Finally, agree upon the next steps of the process at the meeting and reiterate the expectation that participants will connect you to the prospects they identified during the session.
Issue a final report with action steps for each participant and a timeline for contacting the prospects.
Your organization’s ultimate goal is to get a face-to-face meeting or phone conversation with your sponsorship prospect. And you want the connector from your prospecting session to help you get a meeting. NOTE: You don’t want to make the mistake of blindly sending your proposal to a sponsorship prospect.
As Founder and President of ARK Consulting Group, I help organizations identify the strategies, structure, people, and partners to create sustainability.
I specialize in strategic fundraising planning, corporate sponsorship, training workshops and helping organizations identify and implement viable, diverse fundraising. Here’s where you can read my full bio.