The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

An inside look at Fundraising with Businesses: An interview with Joe Waters

Joe WatersHave you ever wondered how your nonprofit could further expand its reach, win over new donors, and raise more money? One way is to explore cause marketing and collaborate with businesses to get new exposure for your cause. Partnering with businesses is not just for large organizations and nonprofits no longer have to rely on a sponsorship model to see results. Joe Waters, author of Cause Marketing for Dummies and writer of the blog Selfish Giving, recently released a new book that serves as a practical, how-to manual for creating successful fundraising programs with businesses. In Fundraising with Businesses, Joe offers 40 doable ideas, complete with examples and tips for getting started. I had the chance to ask Joe a few questions about the new book, and his outlook on the future of cause marketing.

Fundraising with BusinessesWhat inspired you to write Fundraising with Businesses? How does it differ from Cause Marketing for Dummies?

Joe Waters: I wrote Cause Marketing for Dummies to give people an overview of cause marketing. The challenge is that most people don’t know what cause marketing is and they define it in different ways. I tried to clarify this in my latest book by replacing cause marketing with fundraising with businesses. Compared to CM4D, FWB gives the reader a much deeper dive on the strategies for fundraising with businesses. So many nonprofits only think of two things: cash and sponsorship. I don’t even talk about sponsorship in this book. Nonprofits need to know that there are many creative ways to raise money with businesses—to be exact, there are 40!

Beyond the additional revenue a successful business fundraising program might bring in, what are some of the other benefits of doing a fundraiser with a business?

JW: A good business fundraiser gives you access to the largest group of givers: individuals. Think of your work with businesses as a conduit to the largest piece of the philanthropic pie. Of the dollars nonprofits raise, only 6 percent—on average—comes directly from businesses. 72 percent of monies come from individuals. Traditional corporate giving (e. g. grants) is like playing the slots in Vegas—long odds and small payouts. The 40 strategies I outline in FWB bring in consumers, employees and shoppers. That’s the real jackpot.

What is the biggest mistake (or missed opportunity) that nonprofits make when it comes to partnering and fundraising with businesses?

JW: A lot of nonprofits miss all the great things that are right under their feet! Many have existing sponsorships that can be converted into more lucrative fundraisers. If you’re working with a business that boasts lots of locations and foot traffic, sponsorship is just the tip of the iceberg for fundraising. You could be doing so much more. However, the biggest mistake is when nonprofits don’t even realize the potential businesses have for their organization. So often, effective business fundraising isn’t about finding the opportunity. It’s about detecting and acting on the partnerships you already have.

Of the ideas you highlight in the book, which type of fundraiser is your favorite to participate in as a donor? As a fundraiser?

JW: As a former fundraiser, it’s hard not to focus on the “money” strategies. These are point of sale strategies like pinups, register programs, donation boxes and roundup fundraisers. These programs raise hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Even local programs can raise five or six figures.

As a donor, I love any program where there is sincerity and engagement from the business. I want to know that the business really cares about causes. For example, last year after the Boston Marathon bombing the businesses on Newbury Street, a high-end shopping district just one street over from the marathon finish line, pulled together for a one-day shopping event. Their aim was to help a fellow stylist who lost both her legs in the bombing. They raised over $100K. It was great to see so many businesses coming together to support someone in so many ways. While I call my blog Selfish Giving, I love examples of unselfish giving best.

Look into the Selfish Giving crystal ball: What’s the next big thing for cause marketing/fundraising with businesses?

JW: Mobile, mobile, mobile. I’m bullish on how much mobile will impact fundraising with businesses. It already has from an engagement perspective since mobile is where most people are getting their cause news and information via email, the mobile web, and social networks. I have to remind nonprofits that people are now carrying their causes around with them in their pockets and bags. The future of nonprofit marketing and fundraising is engaging people where they are and where they care.

One technology that is making this future a reality is iBeacon. iBeacon is “micro-location” because it’s designed to work in a physical location (like a store) with your phone – specifically your retail apps. With an iBeacon transmitter businesses can better interact with smartphone-toting consumers in and near their stores. Sure, they can push coupons to them when they walk in the door, but they can also give them one when they linger in a particular aisle or over a specific product.

Companies can even push reminders to consumers. “Last time you were on our website you were searching for a blend of coffee that we now have in stock.”

Think about the possibilities for cause marketing. Companies can let customers know when they are supporting a cause, which products are eligible for a donation, and even ask you while you stand in line at checkout if you want to donate to a cause. iBeacon could also process that donation right from your mobile device.

I warn people that if people and their addiction to their phones drive them crazy, they may want to plan for a long nap. It’s only going to increase the next few years. But thanks to generous companies and nonprofits it won’t just be Snapchat, Facebook, and Angry Birds. People will also be using their phones for good.

Thanks to Joe for giving us the inside scoop on the book and what’s next for fundraising with businesses. For more of Joe’s thoughts on cause marketing and nonprofit trends, follow him on Twitter.

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About This Blog

Connie Poulos
Senior Associate, Copywriter

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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