Corporate donor messaging: How to get corporate sponsors for your nonprofit

Corporate sponsorship remains an important driver for nonprofits and their fundraising efforts. According to the Charitable Giving Statistics Report hosted by the National Philanthropic Trust, corporate giving totaled $18.55 billion in 2016. According to Philanthropy Outlook, this figure is expected to increase by 2.7% in 2018.

As companies increasingly seek for ways to give back, nonprofits can leverage corporate donations to boost revenue and build lasting relationships. Beyond monetary value, partnering with corporations can also heighten your organization’s exposure and awareness, legitimize your brand, and increase the number of supporters and volunteers. According to Classy, 79% of shoppers are likely to donate to a nonprofit associated with a trusted brand.

From finding the right match to making the right ask, we’ve prepared the Whole Whale guide to corporate donor messaging.

Corporate partnerships are a great way for the nonprofit & for-profit worlds to work together. Click To Tweet

Finding the Right Corporation

Before you start thinking about how secure a partnership with a corporation, think about which kind of corporation you would like to partner with. Consider your target demographic and which companies can help you reach that audience. Your organization’s best bet is to seek out sponsors whose industry and values relates to those of your organization — partnering with the wrong company can tarnish your organization’s reputation.

Smaller nonprofits may find it easier to partner with local businesses that are similar in size to their organization. Without too much convincing, smaller local partners may recognize the publicity and benefits a partnership your organization can provide.

Making the Connection

Once you’ve identified the companies you’d like to partner with, you want to find a contact at the company that can introduce you to the decision makers. Scan your current networks and see if you have any existing contacts that can help connect you. For example, on LinkedIn you can search by industry type, company name, or job title. On NTen, you can look through the online community groups and member directory (if you have a log-in) and find companies that align with yours. When you reach out to the company, make sure you inquire about their own goals. This will help you tailor your plan to include their needs and goals as well.

Crafting the Ask

Like all good partnerships, both parties should see the benefit. You must be able to demonstrate a great value proposition, highlighting what the company can get out of backing your organization beyond creating social impact. One approach is to start small and offer businesses the option to sponsor a donation match campaign. This allows them to increase the impact of donations to your organization, and it also doubles the company’s brand exposure to your audience.

While receiving funding from these companies would be ideal, think about other non-monetary partnerships that could be beneficial to your organization. Many companies may prefer to donate goods or staff expertise. Donations of this type help to fulfill their philanthropic goals and values, fuel your nonprofit’s mission, and engage their employees.

Preparing the Data

Potential partners need to see where their support would be going. When pitching them on why they should partner with your organization, find creative ways to show the current success and impact of the programs you run. Help them to see how their contributions can help continue that success.

Follow the old adage of “show, don’t tell”: Anthony Lopez, Executive Director of Zone 126 and panelist at the 2017 NYN MarkCon, suggests using infographics to appeal to potential stakeholders. You can also include testimonials from other donors and those affected by the work your nonprofit is doing.

Pitching… and Hitting a Homerun

Prepare a sponsorship plan that includes any supporting materials in advance that will help your organization to implement a partnership. It may help to host an in-person lunch with for the decision makers at the company you want to partner with. This gives you the opportunity to explain your data, your impact, and your need. If the ask is a financial one, know exactly how much you need from your corporate partners to meet your fundraising goals.

And remember to always send a follow up “thank you” email.


Corporate partnerships are an important way for the nonprofit sector and the for-profit world to work together. No matter the size or mission, any nonprofit can implement a corporate partnership,  and you can increase your chances for success by selecting the right partner and demonstrating how a relationship could be mutually beneficial.

Already have a corporate sponsor? Tweet us your success story with the hashtag #WhaledIt!