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Insights for Strategic Corporate Fundraising

Further findings from the Canada Survey of Business Contributions to Community

June 19, 201319 June 2013

Business support of not-for-profit organizations

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Based on the same survey of the community investment practices of 1,500 businesses as other reports from Imagine Canada, this report examines which industry sectors tend to provide different types of support. The goal of this information is to help not-for-profit organizations “tailor their corporate fundraising to the sectors that are most likely to be responsive to their specific needs”. More specifically, “knowing the industry sector that a business works in can help [not-for-profit organizations] understand which businesses are more likely to donate cash, goods, services, or to engage in cause marketing and sponsorships”.

Motivations for giving vary somewhat by sector. For example:

  • In finance and insurance – the sector that most broadly supported not-for-profit organizations – a good fit with company traditions and values was most important, followed by “helping to build a strong and healthy community, which is good for business” and being “good for [the] company’s relationship with the community”.
  • In real estate and leasing, building healthy communities was most important, followed by positive relationships in communities and being “a good thing to do, irrespective of the financial returns to [the] company”.
  • For professional services companies, a good fit with company traditions and values was most important, followed by building healthy communities and being a good thing to do.

In all sectors, recruitment and retention of employees was the least important motivation for giving.

Four broad categories of business support are covered by the report, including donations (of cash, goods, or services), employees (e.g., support for employee volunteering or donations), marketing (i.e., sponsorships or cause marketing), and supply chain support (such as purchasing goods or services from not-for-profit organizations and “raising money from customers and suppliers”).

Donations are the most common and most valuable form of business support for not-for-profit organizations, including arts and culture organizations. For arts and culture organizations, donations of services are the second most valuable form of support, followed by donations of goods and sponsorships. Overall, arts and culture organizations received well less than “health organizations (excluding hospitals), social service organizations, hospitals, and sports and recreation organizations”. (The report does not provide specific dollar figures for each sector, so the exact amounts cannot be provided in this summary.)

The report notes that “some charities and nonprofits may assume that many businesses provide support to [not-for-profit organizations] for ‘marketing reasons’ but the data from this survey do not support this. In fact, only 8% of companies used cause marketing, and 14% sponsored” not-for-profit organizations. Finance and insurance companies are most likely to use cause marketing, while a number of different industry sectors are more likely than other businesses to make sponsorships (real estate and leasing, finance and insurance, retail trade, and manufacturing).

Regarding cash donations, finance and insurance companies are most likely to give cash, while professional services businesses and transportation or warehousing businesses are least likely to donate cash.

The industry sectors most likely to donate goods or products are retail trade, wholesale trade, and manufacturing. The most common types of products donated are company products and promotional merchandise, followed by equipment and media or advertising space or time.

Professional services companies are most likely to donate services to not-for-profit organizations. These types of companies often provide strategic planning or management advice, public relations / marketing / market research assistance, or graphics and media production services.

In terms of support for employees’ activities, finance and insurance companies are most likely to support employee volunteering, to have company events to raise funds from employees for charity, to provide financial donations to organizations for which employees volunteer, and to allow employees to take time off with pay to volunteer.

Regarding supply chain activities, the survey found that retail trade businesses, finance and insurance companies, and manufacturers are most likely to raise money from customers or suppliers, while wholesale trade businesses are most likely to purchase goods or services from not-for-profit organizations.

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