If you run a business, you may find yourself on the receiving end of more pleas for corporate donations than you can handle. While a passion for charity is a wonderful and important aspect of your company, not being able to manage corporate donation requests can be off-putting and can take away from the joy of giving.
Our Tips for Handling Corporate Donation Requests
Set a budget
Knowing how much you can say yes to will also help you determine when you must say no to a request. Whether you’ve developed a monthly budget or an annual budget, understanding how many in-kind and cash donations you can accommodate will help guide your decision.
Keep in mind that monetary contributions aren’t the only way you can help out. When you figure out your budget, remember to identify whether that dollar amount includes the in-kind services, volunteering through a company program, products you will donate or any fundraising you might undertake.
Create a strategy
Creating a focus for your giving will designate specific criteria, enabling you to give more to causes that align with your values. For example, if you’re a downtown business that sees firsthand the issues of mental illness and homelessness, you may want to direct your corporate giving to organizations directly advocating solutions to those issues. Or maybe you work in the legal sphere highlights how many people can’t afford the fees; perhaps you want to focus on pro-bono work or legal aid charities.
Once you have established the type of organization you’re going to support, take some time to also decide whether you’ll be fully focused on local giving, or if you’ll also entertain requests from national or even international groups.
Fine-tuning your strategy not only simplifies your decision-making process, it also shows your customers or clients you put real thought into your social responsibility.
“It doesn’t make great business sense to say yes to every request.”
Be honest about your reasons
It doesn’t make great business sense to say yes to every request. Sometimes the situation will be difficult, and you won’t feel comfortable outlining your honest reasons for turning down a donation request. But if you aren’t presently taking on new non-profit partners, are overloaded with other responsibilities, or it’s just not in the budget; let the prospective charity know why you’re saying no.
Thank them earnestly for their inquiry, then explain you don’t have enough room in your community investment budget at this time, or that their event has a scheduling conflict with another event in which you’re involved. Turning down the request in such a way shows you respect the legitimacy of their need, but just aren’t able to assist at this time.
Another important point: avoid the temptation to just delete the message. If you’re the kind of person who steers clear of difficult confrontation, avoid this instinct when it comes to donation requests. A quick note or phone call politely declining to help will always be appreciated more than pretending the email went to spam.
Make them an alternative offer
Sometimes that $10,000 or $5,000 or even $2,500 sponsorship opportunity just isn’t in the cards for you, even if it’s a non-profit that aligns with your values and one in which you’re very passionate. If you just can’t bring yourself to turn them away, consider offering an alternative method of assistance.
If the non-profit has requested a financial donation for their event, offer to donate some volunteers or an in-kind service that will save them having to hire more help for their event. If, on the other hand your human resources are tight and you’re unable to fulfill the offer of volunteers, offer a monetary donation that fits with your budget that will enable them to find the help they need.
Don’t close the door completely
Further, when saying no, be sure to mention whether the caller can approach you at a later date. Some non-profits will go back through their list next season, but others might assume your lack of a donation signals a general lack of interest. After thanking the representative, let them know they’re welcome to reach out again at a different time or before their next event, when your schedule or budget may be less burdened.
Always extend your best wishes
Whether you make a donation, offer an alternative, politely turn the caller away or offer to connect at a future date, always wish the inquiring organization well in their fundraising before you hang up the phone.
If you decide to turn down a donation request, do not feel guilty. Running your business is your priority and over-reaching in the philanthropic sphere, while heartwarming in the short term, will only serve to drain your resources in the end, leaving you unable to help any organizations at all.
When making decisions, always return to your corporate giving strategy. It is certainly tempting to dole out funds or in-kind services to every passionate charity that comes along, but that way lies exhaustion (both physical and financial). If you have a prepared concept of the types of non-profits you support, when the requests start rolling in you’ll always have clear reasoning to fall back on.
Are you looking to get started on your corporate giving? HeartPress PR can set you on the path to giving back that best suits your company’s values, interests and capabilities. Find out how you can create the right community investment portfolio for your business.
Did you know that at HeartPress PR, we can manage your donation requests for you?