Even though corporate giving has dropped by more than 5 percent since 2006, according to “Giving USA,” some charities are still doing well by courting business support.
The Girl Scouts affiliate in Kalamazoo, Mich., is on track to meet its goal of raising $100,000 more from companies this year, which marks the charity’s 100th anniversary.
It has been approaching companies and asking them to celebrate the milestone by providing support for multiple needs rather than a single project or program. So far the organization has raised an additional $65,000 in corporate gifts.
“We think it’s easier to go in with a menu,” says Karen Micklatcher, chief development officer. “If they gave to outreach efforts to poor girls, they also gave to something else. We have tried this just since October and we are having good results.”
In Memphis, the local Girl Scouts council is asking businesses to support new projects that teach girls about science, technology, engineering, and math. This year, two companies that had not supported the council for several years each made a $10,000 grant for that purpose.
The North Carolina Symphony, which wraps up its fiscal year this month with $3.4-million in contributions—$300,000 more than it raised last year— says a change in its approach to seeking business support was a key reason for the increase.
Instead of asking businesses to underwrite a series of performances, as the symphony did in the past, fundraisers have been encouraging companies to choose what mix of acknowledgments and other benefits, such as entertainment for clients and employees, that they would like the symphony to provide in return for a big gift.
“We became more nimble,” says Mary McFadden Lawson, the symphony’s vice president of philanthropy. “They wanted us to be more flexible. We had to break old molds.”
By the end of its fiscal year, Ms. Lawson says, the symphony will have received $450,000 more from companies than it did in 2009, during the depths of the recession.
But that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to get corporate support now, she says.
“The corporate community is still hesitant, and their decision making takes much longer,” Ms. Lawson says. “They are asking more about return on investment, particularly corporations that are motivated by their image.”