Corporate fundraising is less and less about funds

In the eight years that I’m a fundraiser, the profession has become a lot more fun. But not easier. I don’t tell anything new when I say that (although our revenues grow) the number of checks we receive with the message “go ahead, do something good” decline. The supporter increasingly wants to be more involved in the spending of his donation. (And rightly so.)

Certainly companies increasingly expect a tailored solution that matches their brand and business objectives. A study we did last year at SOS Children’s Villages Netherlands among 16 multinationals, made it clear that companies are being more (pro) active in using their core competencies for a better world. Attached is a growing interest in creating a business win and involvement of the employees.

Besides great opportunities, these trends offer our fundraisers also many challenges.

One challenge is that we no longer should act as fundraisers, but as a (potential) partner. You are partners when you know and complement each other’s interests, develop programs and projects together, share your cost and risks, etc. Terms such as equivalence and mutual benefit are part of this. Fine words, but are these the first words that come to mind when you think about the relationship with your (large) corporate partners?

Another challenge is that as a fundraiser you’re primarily judged on reaching your (financial) fundraising targets. I can at least say that as far as my organization doesn’t impose that pressure, I impose that pressure to myself! And such a partnership is certainly not the shortest route to more funds. That can create some tension.

And I’m not even talking about possible internal discussions with the program departments about or and how we as fundraisers can interfere with the programs in the field. Let alone let our corporate partners play a role in those programs. And like these, there are a number of other challenges to mention.

But despite all the challenges it is possible! An interesting example I think is the project that we at SOS Children’s Villages started last year with the KNVB (Royal Dutch Football Association): World Coaches South Africa. In the coming years KNVB coaches train local football coaches. These coaches, who in addition to football skills, also transfer life skills, are being integrated into our family strengthening programs in South Africa. Through this program we give the children in the townships of South Africa a chance. In this way the KNVB uses its core competencies and makes KNVB staff pride and involved (“football coaches are indeed the strongest Dutch export product”). And, through football, we can better involve men and boys in our family strengthening programs. Finally, SOS Children’s Villages and KNVB together take care of the fundraising. So it’s a win-win-win.

It’s my firm belief the future lies in real partnerships between NGOs and companies. We can reinforce each other and need each other to achieve economic development and making a fairer world. So there is no other option than to find solutions to the aforementioned challenges. “Just start” is a very nice approach. Don’t be afraid to fall and get up every time. Much more fun!

What do you think about that corporate fundraising is less and less about funds?

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