Ask a different question

July 2021

For some not-for-profits a relationship with a brand or company is seen as the goal in itself. A sign of being grown-up, of doing things ‘properly’. I have a heard many a board member say ‘we must get this project sponsored’ and then, more quietly, later on – ‘how do we do that, again’?


The honest truth is that corporate money is quite hard to come by. A charitable trust exists to give away money; a business exists to make it. There are a few shifts in thinking that might need to happen before you start spending time and energy on engaging with businesses and brands. Which questions are your organisation asking?


1. Change: how can this business help me? To: how can I help this business?


Ask yourself ‘What have we got that this business needs?’


Perhaps your brand association and values - that the business can align its own brand with? Your audiences - that the business wants to reach? Your content - to share on the business channels? Your expertise?


2. Change: Can I tell you all about what we do? To: Can I tell you how we can help you solve this problem that we know you have?


Ask yourself ‘What are the challenges that this business is facing? How can I help the business meet them? How can I take away a problem that they have?


3. Change: my project deserves support To: I am going to earn your money by delivering real value for money


Ask yourself ‘how much is your project worth to this business? What costs can they save by spending money with you instead? What new customers can they win? What relationships can you help them build?


All of this takes time, research and perseverance but when you can demonstrate a business return instead of asking for a handout, then that’s when things really start to unlock.