People sometimes overestimate the importance of corporate giving as a piece of the overall fundraising pie, but even still, there’s no doubt that it plays an important role in charitable funding. Corporate giving makes up about 14% of the total amount given to charities in the United States ($41 billion in 2010). And while individual giving dwarfs corporate giving ($212 billion compared to $41 billion in 2010), there is definitely a place for nonprofits to forge relationships with businesses to help maximize their fundraising. 
Some Things to Keep in Mind
Before you go out looking for corporate dollars though, remember that it’s extremely important to choose your partners wisely. Anyone who remembers the pink KFC buckets a few years back will immediately understand why. Make one faulty partnership decision and you can easily damage the brand you’ve spent years to build.
Even if you can identify a partner that aligns with your brand, it can be a real challenge to win the attention of large companies and secure their support. This is especially difficult for smaller and mid-sized nonprofits that can have trouble proving the value of the partnership. Large hearts and pure intentions aside, if business owners don’t see some type of positive publicity resulting from their contributions, they are going to be less likely to give. For smaller nonprofits it makes more sense to approach local businesses that will actually see a benefit from the exposure they can provide.
Bottom line? Find partners that align with your brand and that are proportional in size to your organization, and then figure out ways that you can maximize their exposure.
Traditionally, events have been the default way of attracting corporate donations, which makes sense because sponsors get baked-in promotion to all of the event attendees. There is another approach, however, that can bring even more benefits than the average event sponsorship…
Using Donation Matching in P2P Campaigns
Nonprofits don’t normally associate peer-to-peer fundraising with corporate giving, but there’s a huge untapped opportunity to get businesses involved with these campaigns. By offering businesses the opportunity to sponsor donation matching periods during your peer-to-peer campaigns, you can give them everything they’d get from an event sponsorship and more. The biggest additional benefit that businesses get from this approach is the ability to stretch their money further. Instead of paying $10,000 for an event sponsorship, they can spend the same amount on a donation matching period and double the impact they are making.
The brand benefits from donation matching are probably also greater than the benefits accruing from the average event sponsorship. Most event sponsors have their names or logos attached to various aspects of the event and they are also thanked during the event. This is all well and good, but from a business’s perspective it’s a very passive way to get positive publicity. In a peer-to-peer campaign, a business sponsoring a donation matching period is playing a much more active roll.
When a charity announces to its fundraisers that a donation matching period is happening, it will naturally talk about the business that’s making that possible. This is a much more direct form of promotion. Also, since the business is providing tangible support to fundraisers and donors (and not just to the charity itself as with events) it’s more likely to create positive feelings among the crowd at large. And that’s one of the main things businesses are looking for.
On top of that, since peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns happen online and tap into supporters’ social networks, they have the capacity to reach more people. Unlike events, peer-to-peer campaigns aren’t limited by physical space. By using p2p fundraising software you can also share a sponsor’s logo through activity feeds, landing pages, and donation receipts to make sure that every participant in the campaign is aware of the corporate sponsor making the donation matching possible.
In short, while event sponsorships are (and will remain) a useful way to engage brands with your cause, peer-to-peer donation matching sponsorships represent a promising (and largely untapped) opportunity. Because they can provide more direct benefits to businesses, they can make securing corporate contributions easier than it otherwise would be.
Donation Matching Benefits Everyone
The benefits we’ve mentioned above are primarily from the businesses’ perspective, but donation matching also has obvious benefits for the nonprofit that’s conducting the fundraising campaign.
As a peer-to-peer campaign moves toward its midpoint it will almost certainly see a dip in activity. This much is normal. Activity tends to cluster around the start and end of the campaign and slacken during the middle. Donation matching periods are extremely effective for powering through this middle portion of the campaign.
Fundraisers love to see that they will be able to double their impact. A donation matching period gives you a reason to reach back out to your fundraisers and it gives them something to be excited about. It also helps motivate donors that have been hanging on the sidelines. Because match periods tend to be limited in duration, they create a sense of urgency during the middle of the campaign and really help bring a renewed energy to your efforts.
If you’ve already got some corporate contributions lined up, or you’re looking for a way to approach businesses, consider pitching them on your next p2p campaign. It will provide additional benefits to your sponsors and allow you to maximize your fundraising returns!
Have an Idea for a Fundraising Campaign?
 Giving USA 2011: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2010.
Photo Credit: Flickr User LeonArts.at