Budget concerns are not setting this year’s corporate philanthropic agenda

April 1st, 2010

This week the Conference Board, a nonprofit that bills itself as global business research and membership association, released the results of an annual survey which indicates that corporate planning for community involvement has moved out of crisis mode and into a recovery mindset.

According to the press release, the report — The 2010 Philanthropy Agenda: Is the Pressure Easing? — is based on responses from 114 companies to a December 2009-January 2010 survey about planned changes to their corporate giving programs.

“Last year, due to the recession, it was all about cuts,” says Carolyn Cavicchio, senior research associate, Global Corporate Citizenship, The Conference Board. “This year, the dollar spend for contributions has continued to decline, but at a far less accelerated pace.”

More than three-quarters of respondents said that they would make no recession-driven changes to their 2010 corporate giving programs. Strategic priorities such as aligning more closely with business needs, rather than economic concerns, are driving priority-setting in contributions.

Twenty percent of companies said they would reduce their giving budgets in 2010, compared with 53 percent in 2009. In addition, only four percent of companies plan to reduce the size of their giving staff, compared with 18 percent in 2009.

As in 2009, most companies surveyed are increasing the resources devoted to volunteerism programs, and event sponsorship will see the most decreases.

In terms of focus areas, international development, STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) and environment/sustainability will see the greatest resource increases. Capital campaigns and arts/culture will lose the most.

Other key findings:

  • Just six percent of companies surveyed plan to reduce their contributions-related administrative budgets, compared with 34 percent last year.
  • Only 11 percent of those surveyed said their companies would make fewer grants in 2010, compared with 34.8 percent in 2009.
  • Only eight percent said they would make smaller grants, compared with 20.9 percent last year.

Be Brief, Be Bright, Be Gone!

March 22nd, 2010

As the book-end to Step #8, Create an Emotional Atmosphere, Step #9 is equally as important—Be Brief, Be Bright, Be Gone!

As you prepare the final presentation itself, and make final preparations for the giving of that presentation, a few pieces of advice.

  1. Make sure you know how many people will be attending the presentation, who those people are, and what organizational titles they hold. While everyone attending the presentation is important, know in advance whom the majority of your attention needs to be paid to.
  2. Make sure you have all the appropriate audio/visual equipment lined up in advance, that it has been tested, and is ready to go. If you are making the presentation in the office of those you are presenting to, call the day of the presentation to reconfirm all is ready to go.
  3. Bring enough business cards to go around.
  4. If you are presenting via PowerPoint, decide in advance whether you are going to hand out the hardcopies of the presentation as part of your presentation or after. My suggestion is that you hand out the hardcopies following your presentation so that your attendees will stay focused on the PowerPoint presentation, and not hardcopy.
  5. Before launching into your presentation, ask the attendees to reconfirm how much time they have for the presentation. The last thing you want is to find out midway through your pitch that key players have to leave early or leave before you have finished.
  6. Know your presentation! Just don’t read it, present it! Look into the eyes of those you are presenting to. Get a feel for how the presentation is going so that you can anticipate questions as well as generate discussion. If it becomes clear that there are some modest yet real drawbacks to your proposal, don’t “yes the client to death.” Acknowledge the tweaks/alterations that may need to be made in order to make the proposition acceptable, and then move on.
  7. Make it crystal clear that you recognize that despite all the positive emotion/warm fuzzy’s that are associated with your charitable organization, you recognize the “donation/business proposition” must work, as well. Your listening audience will appreciate that you have an understanding of the myriad requests/proposals they receive, and that your proposal must stand on its merits and measurable impact.
  8. Be bold when you talk about the financial commitment. Too many development people lose their energy and emotion when it comes time to discuss the dollar amount involved in the proposal. Don’t lose your nerve. Make no apologies for the commitment you are proposing. Remain confident about your organization, the good it can do, and the dollar amount you are asking for.
  9. Leave time for questions. If you don’t know the answer to any of the questions, don’t try to bluff your way through. Let them know you will come back with the exact and correct answers. Answer honestly and candidly, and keep the energy and emotion up.
  10. Prior to concluding the meeting and departing, make sure you establish a firm timetable for moving forward. Ask questions such as, “When can we get back together?” or “When do you think you will be making a decision by”. If there are questions you need to answer for them, let them know by what date you will have those answers back to them. Put your organization and the potential client on record as to when the next steps will take place or be completed.
  11. Upon returning to your office, immediately prepare a follow-up thank-you letter that also lays out the agreed-upon next steps and timetable. Then make sure you live up to your commitment in providing them the additional information or answers they are seeking.
  12. And remember this over-arching piece of advice for any presentation: Be brief, be bright, be gone!

Next Installment: Step #10: Keep Plowing

This is part 8 of a 10-part series: The Only Difference is Zeroes: 10 Steps to Improved Nonprofit Development and Fundraising.

-Don Stirling