On April 24, 2017, David Lovelock spoke to PINs leaders and partners about Sponsorship and Fundraising, and the strategies to do it effectively. The workshop was a follow-up to the Effective Sponsorship and Fundraising e-learning module, released in January 2017 on TRIEC Campus.
Employer engagement and fundraising are two of the main challenges faced by associations and not-for-profits. This workshop helped participants understand the steps in engaging companies, and provided them with resources and best practices.
Guest Speaker: David Lovelock
To begin, David explained that fundraising is the art of building relationships with the science of planned process. Organizations should consider where their funding comes from, whether it’s from a few sources, or many different ones. Government funding usually lasts over a longer period (1-3 years), with monthly or quarterly stewardship reporting. Money generated through fundraising activities (events, grant applications) is usually for a shorter period.
Canada has the 2nd largest nonprofit and voluntary sector in the world, with an estimated 165,000 nonprofits and charities. Approx. 54% of these are volunteer-run. However, the top 1% of organizations commands 60% of revenues. With limited revenue sources available, organizations should have a clear idea of what is it that they offer, that can make them stand out from the rest.
A process, not an event
In hiring, it is important to remember that companies don’t hire people, people hire people. And they don’t hire people they don’t know, trust or respect for their abilities and work ethics. In fundraising too, people don’t give funding to organizations they don’t know, trust or respect for their abilities and work ethics. Therefore, it is important to continue building and maintaining relationships with people, beyond a specific ask or event.
The first step in that process is making sure to centralize and clean up the funders’ list. This will help you identify and engage donors who make the most contributions. When looking for new employers to engage, you can look at the following three avenues:
- Inner circle – Immediate friends and business partners
- Middle circle – engage your nonprofit’s board to help you connect with their networks
- Outer circle – engaging contacts with whom you have no prior connections
Building a strong social media presence is useful in engaging organizations and donors. It’s a great way to spread the message of the organization, as well as to solicit calls for donors and volunteers.
The AIDA model
AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. This model is helpful in designing a fundraising strategy that will get people and companies to give money to your organization. The model encompasses the following four steps:
- Attention starts with engaging the employer for creating awareness of your services at the beginning for employers to notice your existence. The purpose is to give the prospects a reason for wanting to learn more.
- Interest establishes the work your association does to keep employers engaged. Learn more about the probable donor, their interest, and community connections. Determine the probable donor’s level of interest in your cause and move to the next step.
- Desire represents employers’ interest in meeting you to talk in detail on how your services can meet their personal, professional or corporate values/needs. Give a tour of your program, the related benefits, and visual demonstration on how the benefits fulfill their need.
- Action is the final step is to make an ask and persuade the employers to immediately participate
Until the “Desire” stage of AIDA, you should engage employers without asking them. Once you feel that you have built mutual interest and trust you can go to the final steps and ask for an action.
How to engage
Before the written, printed, and electronic communication, we huddled around campfires & told stories to convey ideas, to entertain, to educate and to engage each other. And it still works! When attempting to engage employers, it is important to use storytelling as a method of demonstrating the value you brought to a client, an employer, and the community.
This can be done through advertising. Depending on your audience and budget, you can determine the best medium to advertise your story. This can be via website, e-communications, printed collateral, electronic and print media, or social media. Choosing the right medium is critical in maximizing potential, as well as saving time, effort, and money.
To conclude, David provided some tips on how to engage employers in the organization’s activities:
- Ask them to participate in mock interviews
- Request them to speak at information sessions
- Recruit them to advisory committees
- Solicit their advice
- Thank them in person, in e-newsletter, external publications, or on the website
- Write a news article with a quote from an employer
- Acknowledge a special personal occasion
Organizations should engage employers as often as they can, as long as you’re adding value to the relationship, and make them feel appreciated and included. They can leverage alumni and volunteer support in integrating employer engagement at all levels. It’s important to treat employers like clients, because “it’s all about the relationship.”