April Learning@Lunch Recap

The Corporate Giving Network (CGN) held its April Learning@Lunch session on Thursday the 13th 2017 at Wellspring Family Services in Seattle. Thanks to our host Thomasina Schmitt.

The session focused on the highlights of the annual conference held on March 2 2017. The workshop was facilitated by CGN president Joy Stephens who led the conversation using five main topics as talking points: 1.) sponsorship 2.) employee engagement and workplace giving 3.) corporate philanthropy 4.) corporate social responsibility and 5.) cause-related marketing. With each topic the focus was to identify key points that the conference attendees agreed were helpful when doing their jobs of increasing their number of corporate donors and sponsors.

Here is a sample of the ideas discussed:

Sponsorship: Perform a post sponsorship meeting

Report back to each sponsor after an event and present a report showing how the benefits that were expected were delivered. Do this in a face to face meeting. In addition, have stats on hand indicating how many impressions the sponsors’ brands received and attempt to calculate how this may result in increased sales. Ensure the sponsors received the ROI (return on investment) they were expecting and be sure to gain a commitment for another sponsorship.

Employee Engagement & Workplace Giving: Engage employees with volunteerism

Companies are becoming more likely to give to nonprofits that their employees are involved with. Therefore, being able to provide volunteering opportunities is gaining in importance. This is not an easy task for all nonprofits as protecting the confidentiality of its clients and their program itself does not offer chances for outsiders to help. This said, there is a great opportunity for volunteering that every nonprofit has and that is board service. If you cannot, or chose not to, grow the number of board members outlined in your bylaws, organizations can create advisory or ‘young leaders’ boards. These groups don’t have the legal duties or fiscal responsibilities of the board of directors (trustees) but they can help in countless ways.

Another option is to create committees on your board led by a board member but populated by volunteers not on the board. In either case, be sure to recruit volunteers who work at companies that you are hoping to approach for financial support.

Corporate Philanthropy: Do your research

Before approaching a corporation for contributions, it is imperative that you do your homework. Do you understand the nature of their business, who their customers are, their leadership team and what their mission and goals are? Are you certain you are reaching out to the person who can make the decision to support your nonprofit and not someone who is a ‘gatekeeper’?

For publicly traded companies, read their annual and corporate social responsibility reports. Company websites are packed with information and of course there is online and print media. Attend conferences and meetings where key personnel are speaking. Join professional associations where your target audience are members.

Corporate Social Responsibility: Companies are looking to reduce the number of organizations it supports

What conference attendees remembered most from Sam Whiting’s (Boeing) talk is the concept of ‘peanut buttering’ – that is where companies support many nonprofits. It is his opinion that this trend will begin to reverse and companies, including Boeing, will reduce the number of organizations it supports but increase the size of the gifts it gives. This is good news for those organizations it does support but could mean that funding to some other groups will be eliminated.

Cause-Related Marketing: Get creative and team up

Even if your organization is small, there are still ways to create a successful cause-related marketing campaign if you are creative and prepared. A great strategy to approaching a large company for a campaign could be to group together with organizations that serves the same clients (i.e. those suffering with mental health issues) and create a cause-related marketing campaign based on supporting a cause rather than a single nonprofit.


Thank you to all of the great insight that our Learning@Lunch participants contributed to the group on April 13th. We look forward to seeing you at our May 11th meeting.


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