What corporate fundraisers do is extraordinary. Out of nothing, they bring together a company and a charity to create a partnership that makes a better world. They are the modern-day alchemists. It can also be challenging job, because one day you’re celebrating your latest partnership win and the next day you are disappointed because your prospect said no.
This means that corporate fundraisers need to develop some serious skill to be successful. Below we share five essential skills of corporate fundraisers.
In a recent study by Hubspot, they revealed that 80% of sales require an average of five follow-ups in order to close the deal. However, 44% of sales reps follow up with a prospect only once before giving up. After four follow-ups, 94% of people have given up.
In order to be a remarkable corporate fundraiser, you need to be in the 6% of people who keep following up with prospects until they get an answer. When Rainbow Trust were pursuing their dream partner – a large financial services company, where many of their beneficiaries’ parents worked – it took them three years to secure the partnership. They let their passion for the cause guide them. Eventually, they landed the partnership – leading to the charity having more Family Support Workers – supporting children with terminal illnesses to make the most of their time with their family. If the corporate fundraising team at Rainbow Trust had been less tenacious, those families might not have had that support.
You are offering these companies the opportunity to make a better world, so make sure they see your email. Our previous blog on how to bring dead prospects back to life will give you actionable tips on how to keep your tenacity up.
Able to build relationships
Being able to build relationships is essential for corporate partnerships success. Partnership is the name of the game – and that means you can’t do it alone.
Whilst we might immediately think of the relationships you can build with companies, it’s important to build your internal relationships first. Think of a corporate fundraiser as a formula one driver – in order to win the race, you need a strong pit crew around you. If your wider organisation isn’t 100% bought in, you won’t go as fast or as far as you need to.
With prospects and partners, you need to build trust in order to build, deliver and grow partnerships. Without that trust, they will continue to think your partnership is a nice idea, rather than something that can actually happen.
You are always battling to get the attention of your prospects, partners and colleagues – so being concise and persuasive is a must.
In order to achieve this, we recommend you consider your audience. The average reading age of an adult in the UK is that of an eight year old. So to ensure you are understood, use the simplest language possible. Before you send anything, ask: would an eight year old understand this?
With the above said, the real transformation in communication skills comes from becoming a master storyteller. If you can tell a powerful story, you will become an expert fundraiser overnight. Check out our blog on the power of stories here.
A Harvard Business Study found that the 3% of graduates from their MBA who had their goals written down, ended up earning ten times as much as the other 97% put together, just ten years after graduation.
This is because setting goals helps you gain greater focus. Goals help you increase your energy, excitement and productivity. They also give your senior management team a sense of where you’re headed.
We recommend that you set goals for:
- The number of meetings secured with target prospects
- The number of prospects converted
- The number of new opportunities secured with corporate partners
- The satisfaction rate of your current partners
- The overall value of your corporate partnerships programme
Focussing on these five things will ensure that you are delivering the most you can for your charity. As Kinich Ohmae once said: “Rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction”.
The final skill we recommend developing is resilience. As a corporate fundraiser, you can often find yourself feeling rejected or ignored.
If you don’t hear back from a prospect, you can take it as a sign that they’re not interested. But as we touched on earlier – you need to take no answer at face value – it’s not a no, it’s just not an answer. Knowing you have something powerful to offer will give you the confidence to follow up.
If you do hear back from a prospect and it’s a no, it can be very easy to feel like you wasted your time. However, as Bernard Ross lays out in his “Nine Nos of Fundraising”, often when they say no they mean “ask me a better question”. Being able to bounce back and work out that better question will set you apart from an ordinary fundraiser.
We hope you have enjoyed finding out about the five essential skills of corporate fundraisers. Perhaps you can identify one or two that you really want to work on. Being a corporate fundraiser is hugely rewarding. We wouldn’t swap this job for anything. But there is a shortage of corporate fundraisers in the UK. So if you want to enter the profession or you’re just starting out, then join us at our virtual careers event from 1pm – 1:30pm on the 5th of May.
You can book your free place by emailing Nicky on firstname.lastname@example.org