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Engage With the Corporate Sector

Donating money or serving on a board of directors is not the only way business people contribute to the community. Increasingly, corporate leaders are creating meaningful relationships with nonprofit organizations through employee volunteering or corporate sponsorship programs. Although these endeavours require time and energy, they can give you access to resources that would otherwise not be available..

Here is a primer on finding and creating successful corporate partnerships. 

Seek Support

One of your first steps should be connecting with your local volunteer centre, as they often have great resources and helpful advice related to corporate volunteerism. They could also link you to non-profit agencies who have worked with the corporate sector. Finding out what has worked for these agencies and what hasn’t could save you a headache.  

Get Clear About Your Priorities

Early in the game, get clear about the type of company you would like to partner with and the level of involvement you expect from them. Are you are looking for a local company, or is it more crucial that you share common causes or similar values?  Are you seeking financial support only, or do you also want to engage their employees as volunteers?

Research Companies

Once you have gotten clear on your priorities, use business directories or other resources to create a list of companies to research (a research librarian can be a great help!). Then,  research each company, starting with their LinkedIn company profile. (You can use LinkedIn to check profiles of various employees, which can help you assess whether the likely range of skills would align with organizational needs.) Of course, you should scour the company website, especially the About section, to find out more about ach company’s, values and mission statement, and the length of time they have been in business.

Remember to check whether they have adopted a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program that complements your organization. If the company does not have a CSR program, try searching their Twitter feed, Facebook page as well as marketing campaigns to see which causes or issues they appear to support. You can also gain insights by reading articles and blog posts written by company leaders.

The more information you can gather about a company’s brand, the better you’ll be able to position your organization as an obvious choice for a partnership.

Prepare for the Pitch

Once you’ve chosen a short list of companies, identify the best contact to approach, inviting them for coffee or a tour of your agency, before trying to sell them on a partnership. When you do make your pitch, touch on the many ways your organization contributes to the community; then get to the heart of your proposition by highlighting the social impact of the partnership, the way your mission dovetails with its SCR program (if it does) and other  benefits to the corporation.

If you don’t feel a spark with the first company you approach, move on to the next! Although finding the right company may seem like a lot of work, the payback for your organization could be substantial.  

When You’re Being Pitched

Since volunteering is one of the best ways to increase a company’s profile, many businesses have already determined the types of causes and organizations they want to support and are actively seeking partnerships with non-profits.

If you do receive a call about a partnership, ask for time to consider their request so you can do your homework and determine whether it would be a good match. (Aim to get back in touch within a couple of days―your contact may report to a CEO or committee that is looking for quick results.) If you can’t accommodate the needs of a company, point them towards a more appropriate organization or refer them to SPARK.

Messages of Hope on a Grey Day

Your Stories

Reflections of a student volunteer: I think that I will always remember Tuesday, May 28, 2019. Driving to the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre I doubted how drawing messages on the sidewalk with chalk could make a substantial effect on a person's life. It was a cold and wet day with no sun. Our class pulled up in our yellow school bus at about 9:15 am, our teacher directed us to this open, garden like area with sidewalks at the very front of the hospital. From this area we could see many windows from which patients, doctors, nurses, etc. would soon be seeing our art. Our class of 39 students split into two groups. My group toured the hospital first. What I gained most from this tour was an understanding of what patients would be experiencing daily. Seeing the patients that were fighting to live and understanding their treatments helped me to understand how great our impact would be. Stepping out of the hospital and seeing all the messages that the other group had written was absolutely inspiring. All together my classmates and I drew sidewalk chalk drawings for two hours, writing inspiring messages like “You Go Girl!”, “We are Proud of You”, “You're Doing Great!” etc., making drawings, and just putting colours on the dull sidewalk. Our hands were cold but our excitement for the patients to see the finished product kept us going. I remember seeing patients walk by and smile. This helped me to see our impact. At the very end of the two hours I walked down the whole garden area that we had drawn on, wishing I could see how the patients would see it from the windows. I saw so many bright messages, and drawings and prayed that the patients would be able to make out what they said. I remember thinking “We made a difference. I made a difference.” I left feeling like I was somewhat connected with the patients up in the hospital looking down at us. On the ride home we got a message from one of the doctors, a student’s mother, who we had seen before we starting drawing. It read “Please thank everyone. The messages are so big and bright. You can see them so well from the windows. Sandra, our chief nurse in the systemic suite, is telling all the patients to have a look.” On this dreary, cold, gross day, all the patients, both fighting to kill cancer and fighting to live with it, would be looking out the windows and seeing our messages. Families with kids our age and younger would look out the window and feel happy, maybe forgetting for a minute about how their loved one is struggling to fight cancer, or being inspired to feel that they can keep fighting. This service initiative left me knowing that I could make a change, that in this huge world with 7.53 billion people, I myself could help. -- Abby S.

On Tues. May 28, 2019, the Grade 9 class of St. John's-Kilmarnock school filled the sidewalks in fron...

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Great stuff from around the world. Check back often to see what's new!

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