Want to Raise More Money? Focus on Current Business Partners

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Every nonprofit wants to recruit new corporate partners, but your best bet to raise more money is to find new ways to work with your existing partners. It just might lead to a new partner.

Here's how to turn an existing partner into a better partner.

Be insanely helpful. Don't take a one and done approach with partners. Share new ideas with them, even ones that aren't relevant to your partnership but may be useful to their business. Retweet their tweets on Twitter. Like their posts on Facebook. Tell people how great they are. Be a real partner, which means you are focused on their interests even when they're not not raising money for you. 

Talk to new people at the same company. Too many nonprofits spend too much time dealing with the philanthropy arm of a business. That's not where the money is. The folks in marketing have bigger budgets but need bigger ideas if you hope to move them. If your partner has storefronts and shoppers pitch them on pinups, purchase-triggered donations, even a Facebook Like promotion. If they don't, get their employees involved in your charity run, walk or ride.

Master skills they value. As many companies are still struggling with social media, position yourself as an expert that can help them in multiple areas. That means you need to know more than they do about blogging, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. It also means you need to be ahead of the curve on things like mobile technology and QR codes. Accept this fact: businesses value social media more than cause marketing so if you can do the former well it might lead to more of the former.

Be irresistible. As you get to know a business, learn about what really drives and motivates them. What do they really want? It may surprise you. One former partner of mine was consistent with their annual support for my nonprofit, but I couldn't get them to do another program until we did a promotion with - of all things - their favorite local TV show. The CEO couldn't resist not being part of the program and signed on for a second fundraiser.

Play leapfrog. Your current partners are your best source of referrals to new partners. Ask them to introduce you to their friends and business contacts. Analyze their business and their key demographic so you can recruit other businesses with similar ambitions. I've always said that having one business partner is a great opportunity to recruit another.

How have you persuaded current partners to do more?