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Employee Engagement Fundraising: A Guide To Building Stronger Corporate Sponsorships

So, I hear you’re partnering with a local business. That’s awesome! Did you ask them for a sponsorship? Did they donate some supplies in-kind? Are their employees eager to participate in some weekday volunteer projects?

All of this is great, because, as you know, all forms of engagement are helpful in enhancing these essential alliances.

But there’s another way to engage your for-profit partner’s employees that doesn’t involve manual labor or a peripheral affiliation coming from the company’s top-level managers. When you discuss action steps with the powers that be at your for-profit partner, steer away from the normal “asks” and instead, talk about the ways their employees can help power your community-driven fundraising efforts.

Community-driven fundraising is all about using the power of your supporters–who are, in this case, the employees– to inspire others to get involved. It’s not just a technique; it’s a mindset your nonprofit is likely already organically shifting toward to raise money and friends.

Your for-profit partners aren’t just there to provide sponsorship; they’re eager to engage their employees as well. Here’s how you can engage employees using community-driven fundraising.

Community-Driven Fundraising, A Primer

Before we dive into the ways you can engage employees using community-driven fundraising, let’s first talk about the basics of this fundraising mindset.

Community-driven fundraising focuses on converting your supporter base into loyal advocates for your cause. These supporters are anyone from your current donors to volunteers, board members, and the employees at the for-profit business you’ve partnered with.

community driven fundraising

As you can see from the diagram, there are three main phases:

  1. Inspire: You begin by providing your supporters (such as the for-profit employees) a base of inspiration. Emotion-inducing stories, powerful images, and videos give them the fuel to do something to bolster your cause.
  2. Activate: Then, you provide a way for the supporter to help, such as donating in campaigns or participating in an event.
  3. Rally: Finally, after your supporters have bought into your cause and trust in your process, they’re likely ready to share your message with others through rallying efforts. As your supporter shifts from donor to advocate, they may choose to fundraise for you or connect with friends and family about your organization’s work.

As you know, there’s a lot of power in a recommendation– and that’s what you’re striving for. When supporters advocate for you, they’re essentially validating your cause while promoting it to others. It’s word-of-mouth marketing, and it’s the best way to reach a broader audience!

Sure, community-driven fundraising is a process that you can use from campaign to campaign. However, it’s really meant to be an overall approach to your everyday fundraising efforts that ultimately yields ongoing benefits such as these:

  • Engages your supporters on a consistent and gradual basis
  • Deepens your relationships
  • Broadens your audience of new and prospective supporters
  • Validates your cause to others

The Core: Relationship Building

All this begs the question: what do you want out of your for-profit partnership? Chances are, you’re looking for financial support in some way. But long-term, retained support isn’t going to happen without first building authentic relationships.

Community-driven fundraising is a natural booster for building relationships with employees at your for-profit partner. It provides them with opportunities to learn and gradually get more involved on their own terms. Use your inspirational stories to start engaging the employees, and then build from there. Over time, and with the right amount of fostering, they may want to get involved on a deeper level.

Engaging Employees: Your Options

Now that you understand community-driven fundraising, let’s tackle some concrete ways you can use it to inspire, activate, and rally employees.

Inspire

  • Create Personalized Marketing Materials: A great way to inspire a new audience of employees is to provide inspiration that’s made specifically for them, like:
    • A video featuring fellow employees
    • A pamphlet that details the partnership and the reasons why employees should get involved
    • Posters to hang around the workplace
  • Use Social Media: Develop a company-specific hashtag or a social media page to educate and inspire employees in their own space.

Activate:

  • Crowdfunding: Ask the employees to participate in a workplace-sponsored crowdfunding campaign. Set up an online fundraising website and ask your for-profit contact to help manage the site, along with any online and offline donations. To encourage participation, discuss the option of a gift match or company-supported incentives such as a convenient parking space or pizza party for the department with the most donations.
  • Events: If you’re eager to get the employees actively engaged, consider a fundraising event. This fundraising technique combines the power of crowdfunding with a fun activity, such as running a 5K, taking a Polar Plunge, or participating in a Curl-a-Thon like the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ingersoll, Tillsonburg & Area.partners

Rally:

  • Social Sharing: Sometimes, all it takes is a message of support to enlighten others about your cause. One great way for employees to advocate for your cause is to ask them to share information about your cause with their networks. Whether it’s sharing a link to your latest fundraiser or asking them to tell others why they support your cause, their online and offline contacts are sure to take note.
  • Peer-to-Peer Fundraising: To get employees’ skin in the game, encourage peer-to-peer fundraising. With the right preparations such as a personal fundraiser toolkit and a support system, employees can create their own fundraising websites and promote their campaigns to friends and family. Peer-to-peer fundraising is an active way for employees to advocate and fundraise in one fell swoop. For example, KPMG participated in a peer-to-peer fundraiser to support Junior Achievement of Greater Washington.partners

Best Practices To Help Guide Your Efforts

  • Get Buy-In From Leadership: Before you start recruiting personal fundraisers and distributing marketing materials, make sure the company’s leadership is on board with the plan. Work with the management or corporate social responsibility manager to put your community-driven fundraising efforts into place.
  • Name An Employee Point Person: Make sure to confirm your point person, so you know who to direct vital communications. In many cases, you’ll be working with the staff person responsible for community outreach.
  • Dedicate A Staff Person At Your Nonprofit: Again, it’s important to keep communications streamlined. Therefore, name a dedicated staff person from your nonprofit to manage the relationship and fundraising activities.
  • Provide Training: You’re probably not familiar with how your for-profit business partner operates on a daily basis, and they feel the same way about your nonprofit’s work. If you’re looking to dive deep into community-driven fundraising and want to encourage employees to become true advocates, some basic training will be necessary. Set up a lunch-and-learn or create a personal fundraiser toolkit to give them the tools they need to be successful.
  • Market Your Relationship: Show your appreciation for the developing relationship by promoting for-profit fundraising activities in your marketing materials, such as your email newsletter and social media feeds. It builds goodwill and is likely to be shared by the company and employees.
  • Work With Other Departments: Community-driven fundraising isn’t just about boosting your financial resources, it’s about engaging and collaborating. Work with your volunteer coordinator, marketing department, and administration to come up with a holistic plan to activate employees on a variety of levels.

As you work with your for-profit partners to develop a plan for employee engagement, don’t overlook community-driven fundraising. Remember that there’s remarkable power in a recommendation, and these employees are great prospective candidates for the role of “advocate.”

To learn more about community-driven fundraising and how you can shape your fundraising efforts around this strategy, check out our webinar: Community-Driven Fundraising: How to Cultivate Donor Relationships and Reach New Donors.

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