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Seek business donations

Charites and social enterprises could consider working in partnership with businesses, either to achieve cash donations or in kind contributions e.g. donations of goods and services, specialist pro bono help or employee time. Companies provide only

2% of the UK voluntary sector’s income, but there is scope for this figure to rise.

Serves – most voluntary organisations
Preparation –researching local, national and/or international businesses that may have a synergy with your organisation
Cooking time – approximately 6 months but depends on the target


  • fundraising team
  • Case for Support
  • your offer
  • target list
  • key person
  • business network
  • introduction
  • follow-up discussion
  • partnership
  • Business Club


  1. Form a business fundraising team. These should be hard workers, committed to your cause and preferably with contacts in the business world
  2. Prepare a Case for Support, a business proposal (see our Recipe Creating a Case for Support). This should outline what you require of the business and what your offer would be in return. You may need to set out different offers, based on different levels of donations., so for example a banner on your website, or a display in your shop window would normally justify a greater donation than a mention in a blog or a leaflet. Be creative but realistic with your offers, be doubly sure you have the capacity to deliver before committing your group.
  3. Draft a target list of businesses that look like they might fit your need. This list can be compiled from your and your team’s personal knowledge and that other people you know. For local businesses check online for directories. For national, regional and local companies who already donate to causes there are subscription services such as that hosted by the Directory of Social Change https://fundsonline.org.uk/
  4. Analyse your target list, removing any you feel to be unsuitable, e.g. if their ethos or activity doesn’t fit with your values, or if they prioritise causes other than your own.
  5. Gather the names of the key contact in each business. It’s important to have named people, letters or emails to “the CEO” or “Public Relations Dept” are much more likely to be ignored. These names may be known to you or your team, otherwise make phone enquiries
  6. Alongside this, consult to see who could be added to your list by joining a business network such as the Federation of Small Businesses https://www.fsb.org.uk/about-us or your local Chamber of Commerce to help you network.
  7. Communicate with the target list; if you or your team are already acquainted with the contact person, you could just phone to seek as a meeting. Otherwise, by email or letter send them a brief introduction to your group and why you are getting in touch, and ask if they would like further information or a meeting. Many may not reply at first, so the next step would to phone them to establish interest.
  8. To those interested, send a Case for Support, but first adapt it to target the company, so the contact is made aware how your group will specifically benefit their business. This requires carrying out research on the company’s activities and plans from annual reports (if any), press coverage, and any news gleaned from your fundraising team or networks. What you discover may influence what you offer the company in return for a donation
  9. If no reply, about a week later, seek a follow-up discussion, preferably via a face to face meeting. If they agree to this, the discussion should focus on the content of the Case for Support. Be clear what you want from them, and establish their take on your offer. Be prepared to negotiate.
  10. Though you may just want a cash donation, you may get further if you are prepared to also consider other aspects such as sponsorship, professional or practical help in kind, “charity of the month/year” projects, employee volunteering, promotion of “Give as You Earn” to their staff. Some approaches may lead only to one-off donations, but other could lead to long term partnerships.
  11. If things are going well, invite them to see your group in action, if that’s possible, and let them meet colleagues.
  12. If you can negotiate a partnership be sure to adhere to your side of the bargain, e.g. meeting their requirements, keeping them in touch with developments and how you get on in meeting fundraising targets. One option you may want to consider is to form a Business Club where companies interested in backing your cause meet up regularly to share experience and receive updates on your groups’ progress. This might further strengthen their commitment
  13. If you can maintain a solid, workable partnership that benefits both parties, you may receive support for a long time to come.

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