Know who they give to
As with any prospect, you need to know who a business gives to before you approach it for a gift. Look at the specific organizations that have received gifts in the past. Do they operate in areas similar to yours? Look at the specific causes the business has supported in the past. Are they causes your organization supports? Knowing the answers to these two questions will tell you if you should move this prospect along in your pipeline. Geographic location of gifts is also worth paying attention to at this stage.
Know how much they give
Asking a business for $10,000 when they typically give gifts of $20,000 is a great way to leave money on the table. Conversely, asking a business for $10,000 when they typically give gifts of $1,000 is a great way to end the conversation before it starts. Research past gift sizes. Go back as many years as possible and look for trends. Make sure you know the answers to the following questions: Are gift sizes consistent from year to year? What is the average gift size per year? What is the biggest gift ever? What is the smallest gift ever?
Use your connections
Cold approaches can be effective, but a warm approach always works better. When approaching a business for a corporate gift, utilize your network. Do any of your board members have connections to people who sit on the company’s board? Do any of your major gift donors have connections to senior employees at the company? Do your board members or major gift donors (or any other friends of your organization) know someone who knows someone who is connected to your prospect in any capacity? Anything you can do to warm your approach will only increase your chances of success.
Corporate donor prospecting does not have to be an area of uncertainty. Apply the same principles you apply to individual and foundation donors and use your organization’s connections to move your corporate gift portfolio from an area of unease to an area of strength.