Corporate Dollars: The Cornerstone of a Successful Fundraiser

Toronto’s Paul Etherington is the guy every fellow young professional (YP) wants to chat with when it comes to advice on charitable involvement, business, or how to throw an unforgettable party. He is, after all, behind one of the most successful YP-run charities in the country, the beloved motionball.

Because Etherington doesn’t have time to do coffee with everyone (though we are sure he would if he could), we offer the next best thing: a monthly series where he answers some of your most asked questions and offers inspiring words of wisdom. So far we’ve heard his thoughts on leadership and charitable involvement and how to launch a successful charity event; today, we find out the importance of corporate dollars in that equation..


An integral component to any successful not-for-profit charity or fundraiser is its corporate sponsorship program. Ideally you want to build a sponsorship program that offsets the actual cost of the event, allowing every dollar guests spend on tickets, silent auction items and raffles to go directly to the charity.

When pitching to potential corporate sponsors, it’s important to keep in mind that there are over 80,000 not-for-profits in Canada that all have a great story to tell. The competition for corporate dollars is fierce and you need to be able to make your charity stand out.

Sponsorship decks, PowerPoint presentations, dividend pages, third party endorsements and video footage of past events are all great tools to aid in your pitch, but the two most important ingredients of your sponsorship campaign are (1) your contacts within the corporate community and (2) the way you make your charity relevant to their corporate culture. It is your job to prove how your charity matches their corporate mandate and community mission statement. 

If your contact at the company isn’t the decision maker, don’t be afraid to ask them to connect you to the right person. When it’s time to pitch, the key points you should outline are the dividends provided, their return on investment, employee engagement opportunities, and how their investment in your charity will provide a greater net return for them.

When you’re fortunate enough to build up a roster of loyal corporate sponsors, don’t take them for granted. Provide them yearly statements outlining the metrics of their investment in your organization. Engage their employees by including them on event committees or boards. Look to them for more than just financial support. Ask if they would like to volunteer or offer mentorship opportunities to your committee members. Most importantly, go out of your way to thank them – both privately and publicly – for their involvement.

Finally, don’t get discouraged. You will hear NO more than YES. Learn from the NOs and master your approach – it will make hearing YES that much sweeter!

#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)

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