How to Get Corporate Sponsorships When You’re Crowdfunding for Civic Change

What makes your community unique? Maybe it’s the physical characteristics of the neighborhood, like architecture or neat murals. Or maybe it’s the spirit of hospitality. Or maybe it’s your neighbors themselves that make it special. Chances are, local businesses are also a big part of your neighborhood’s identity—the shops that know you by name, and the cafes and restaurants that know your order before you walk in. They’re likely unique and one-of-a-kind, too!

If you’re organizing to make positive change in your community, whether you’re a nonprofit or just a group of neighbors with a great idea, local businesses can be a great partner to help you achieve your goals. One way to do this is by partnering with a local business or corporate sponsor to match donations to a fundraising campaign. 

What does it mean for a corporate sponsor to match donations?

Everyone gets warm fuzzy feelings when they see that their actions make a difference. It’s no different when they give to a campaign for positive change! A match is an opportunity to make your donors’ gifts stretch even further, by doubling, or even tripling the value of their gift.

Here’s how it works: when you partner with a corporation or a local business for a match, that business agrees to contribute a certain amount of dollars to your campaign based on what you fundraise on your own. Let’s say a local business agrees to give you a dollar for every dollar that you receive as a donation up to $1,000. Great! Once you raise the money, the business will contribute theirs, too. If you successfully raised the full $1,000, your total funds with the corporate match dollars will equal $2,000.

How to Get Corporate Sponsorships
To help reach their goal, Clevelanders for Public Transit put together a match to double their donors gifts. A match is a great tool to motivate your donors, especially if you have a big goal!

Why should I consider asking corporate sponsors for a match?

Here at ioby, we believe in the power of bringing together community members to enact positive change. “The whole point of crowdfunding is to get somewhere big through small steps taken together with lots of people,” says Dana J. Schneider, ioby’s Community & Growth Manager. Local business leaders have already demonstrated they are invested in your community by choosing to plant roots there, just like you have. Since you both care deeply about your neighborhood, why not work together to get good done?

Partnering with a local business also has the potential to be beneficial for both your nonprofit and the company! With a match, your donors may be more motivated to give knowing their funds will be doubled, and the business gets to expand their presence in your community. It’s a win-win! So, how do you go about getting a corporate sponsorship?

How to get corporate sponsorships for nonprofits (and others!)

Step 1: Find the right corporate partners.

It’s a common tactic in the nonprofit world to partner with organizations whose missions and business complement yours, since they are likely already interested in your type of project. For example, suppose you are fundraising for a project that will help seniors in your neighborhood learn new technology skills. Awesome! A complementary partner might be a local office supply store, or a computer software company in town. They care about your community, and they’re interested in a similar field—technology. 

Remember to talk to your neighbors, too, and gather input from them, as well. Which local businesses do they already patronize and have relationships with? Perhaps they have a favorite restaurant, coffee shop, drugstore, or supermarket that has deep roots in the community. Or maybe you know of a business whose founder has a similar story to yours. They could be a potential partner, too! The key is to find a connection you share.

Once you have some specific businesses in mind, take time to further research these companies. Check out their websites and look for information about their mission or their statement on Corporate Social Responsibility. You can even use your own knowledge of the company’s social giving history. Do you remember them sponsoring another community-based event in the past? Understanding the business’s identity will give you a solid foundation from which you can begin to build a mutually beneficial partnership.

How to Get Corporate Sponsorships
Match funding is particularly helpful if you’re hoping to crowdfund a large amount of money. Check out our rainmaker series to get more tips from other neighborhood leaders on how to fundraise for a big budget. 

Step 2: Plan and craft your proposal.

Even though you’re asking for a company’s money, keep in mind that you are developing a relationship with the people who stand behind that business. If you don’t know who to contact with your proposal, ask! Email their mainline, or if they’re a larger business, reach out to their marketing or public relations person. 

Once you know who to approach, remember that just as in traditional fundraising a personal meeting or phone conversation is way more likely to result in success than an email. “You’re always going to be more successful when you can, one-on-one, tell someone why this is something that’s important to you,” says Chris Stocking, treasurer and co-founder of Clevelanders for Public Transit, who created a match for their campaign.

Your initial correspondence is a chance for you to show that you’ve done your research. Why are you choosing to reach out to their business? Why do you think they will benefit from a partnership with your nonprofit? This is also your chance to emphasize the impact of your work, explain what the funds will be used for, and ask for the amount in match dollars you are seeking. We recommend asking for a minimum of $500 in corporate match funds. If you need some guidance on exactly what to say, we have a script to help

You should also be ready to share what they can expect in return for their match. When you fundraise with us at ioby, we’ll also add a banner to your fundraising page to share your sponsor’s information. 

Step 3: Maintain and strengthen the relationship.

Once you’ve piqued the company’s interest or secured the match funding (way to go, neighbor!), you’ll want to build on the relationship you’ve established. A follow-up email or phone call is an important gesture, and it provides you the opportunity to tell more of your story if necessary. Remember to keep your new partners updated on progress related to your nonprofit and the great things you are doing in your community. 

Videos can be a powerful tool to show your donors, and your sponsors, why your project matters. Thats what neighbors organizing for the Saint Paul Tool Library in Minnesota did to say thanks and build connections!

You can do it! We believe in you.

We know that asking for money can be an intimidating task, especially if it’s something you’re not accustomed to. Give yourself some grace. Take it from our teammate Dana: “I spend lots of time thinking about how to grow our movement for positive civic change–and how to encourage our community to give financially to support it. But it took time, and hitting the phones, for me to feel comfortable fundraising.” Soon, she realized she “wasn’t just raising money, [she] was building and deepening relationships with friends and donors at all giving levels.” 

And don’t be discouraged if you receive a “no” from a potential sponsor. Keep trying! Knowing that your project is important to you brought your neighbors on board, your passion will nudge new partners towards you, too. 

Ready to get started with your own campaign for positive change? Share your idea with us! We’ll help you plan a campaign from start to finish, including crafting your own pitches to local businesses for match funding.