Beyond Gold, Silver, and Bronze: Three Easy Steps to Creating Better Corporate Proposals


By Rory Green

This is the best proposal I have ever seen. You really hit the mark.

Do you want your corporate donors to LOVE the proposals and pitches you prepare for them? More importantly, do you want your corporate asks to be successful?

That quote above was from a potential corporate donor on a partnership proposal I prepared not too long ago. I know you can get this kind of reaction too, but it takes thoughtful and custom proposals.

There is a lot of possibility to really engage corporate partners in giving – but you need to change your thinking from the “one size fits all” mentality of gold, silver, bronze sponsorships.

Here are 3 easy steps to create better corporate proposals:

STEP 1: Get to know THEM: The first step is to really learn about the company you want to work with. Go on their website, read how they talk about themselves. What services are they selling? What language do they use? Watch some commercials and look at some advertisements for the company and really get a sense of their brand.

When you have your discovery meetings, ask lots of questions – and listen really well. Don’t run through a sales pitch before you’ve really gotten to know the company. Key things I need to know about a potential corporate donor are:

  • What are their biggest challenges today? What do they think they will be tomorrow?
  • What are their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals and objectives?
  • What have they liked about past non-profit partnerships? What has worked well? What hasn’t?
  • What makes their company unique? Why do their customers chose them over their competitors?

STEP 2: Look for Return on Investment (ROI): Once you understand a company, look for areas where your goals and objectives overlap – and build partnerships based on those shared values, beliefs and objectives. Find creative ways to add value to a company through your partnership, by: helping them find new customers, engage employees, build a stronger brand – or more. Always keep in mind what is the ROI for the company you are working with – not just what’s in it for you. A partnership with the right charity can add value for the company by:

  • Helping them find new customers: 94% of people would switch from one brand to another if it was associated with a good cause
  • Engaging and retaining employees: 70% of people say making a difference in a good cause is a factor in where they choose to work
  • Building brand: associating a company with a good cause can improve their reputation and regard in the marketplace

STEP 3: Make a donor-focused pitch: In your proposal, talk about THEM. Restate what you’ve learned about their CSR objectives and business needs, and clearly explain how the program you’ve identified matches their interests and helps THEM achieve their business objectives. Too often charities make pitches based on their cause and their organization. Focus more on the opportunity of the partnership – and less on your need for money.

And there you have it, three easy steps to radically change the way we work with corporate partners. Try it out. Let me know if it works for you!

Rory Green has been in the philanthropic sector for over eight years and is currently the Associate Director, Advancement for the Faculty of Applied Science at Simon Fraser University. Rory has also worked in major and corporate giving at BCIT and the Canadian Cancer Society. Rory has spoken at national and international fundraising conferences, most recently starring in the “Kaleidoscope of Philanthropy” Plenary Session at AFP International, San Antonio.In her spare time Rory is the founder and editor of Fundraiser Grrl, the fundraising community’s go-to source for comic relief.

One thought on “Beyond Gold, Silver, and Bronze: Three Easy Steps to Creating Better Corporate Proposals”

  1. Fantastic Article. Should be a no-brainer but like many things the simple and the obvious is not always the most common approach.

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