Fundraising With Businesses – A Review

Fundraising With Businesses: 40 New (and improved) Strategies for Nonprofits, Joe Waters, Wiley (2014).  

Joe Waters is well known for his expertise in cause-related marketing. He wrote Cause Marketing for Dummies, writes a popular blog, Selfish Giving, and co-hosts Cause Talk Radio on the Internet.

So why did he title his newest book, “Fundraising with Businesses”?

I asked Joe, and here is what he said:

“Sadly, I’ve discovered that cause marketing is an industry term that many average people simply don’t understand. For some, cause marketing means ‘the marketing of causes.’ For others, it means anything related to corporate giving. To reduce confusion I decided to call my book ‘Fundraising with businesses.’ Because, well, that’s what I’m talking about!”

Here’s what I really liked about Joe’s book:

  • It’s written for any size nonprofit. Whether yours is national or just local, there is something here for your organization.
  • It’s like a recipe book. Each type of business arrangement has its own chapter (40 of them!) with a simple explanation of how it works, examples, tips and ideas you can steal. 
  • It works within best practices of fundraising. Joe often also adds bits of advice that fit any fundraising situation. For instance, in one chapter he lists three ways to become a trusted fundraising advisor, and in another explains the role of emotion in fundraising with businesses. Joe is after all an experienced fundraiser with hands-on experience at a large hospital in Boston. Now he consults, trains, and advises businesses and charities alike on how to work together profitably.
  • Joe shows as well as tells. In addition to the examples and illustrations in the book, he has integrated Pinterest and QR Codes with his content.  For instance, at the end of each chapter, there is a URL for a Pinterest board that matches the chapter. If you’re a QR Code fan, there is one that will take you to Pinterest too. If you want to follow along on Twitter, there is a hashtag, #fwb40 that you can use for more examples or to contribute your own. 

Why is it important for charities and businesses to work together anyway?

The simple answer, according to Joe, is that consumers rule.  And companies know it.

  • 90% of consumers want to know that the companies they buy from are supporting good causes.
  • 83% of Americans say they want more of the products, services, and retailers they use to support good causes.
  • Moms and Millennials, particularly, want businesses to be partners with good causes.  These folks are prime consumers. It’s no wonder business is paying attention.

Joe says that smart businesses are listening and it’s not just about money or selling more products. It’s about generating favorability for their brands. Cause marketers call this the “halo” effect. And it’s desired more and more by businesses, big and small.  Doing good simply pays off in ways that go well beyond the cash register.

Why does Joe write about 40 ways to raise Funds with businesses? That’s a lot.

To expand our minds about the potential of business partnerships.  Charities seem to equate “cause marketing” with just a few ideas. Like the pink yogurt containers during Breast Cancer Awareness Month or a sponsorship of an event or walkathon.

But there are many ways to raise money with a business partnership. 

The 40 that Joe includes in his book range from the familiar point-of-purchase campaigns to the “I never heard of that” trade-show fundraiser. Even within these 40 ideas are permutations that make the number even bigger. 

My eyes opened wide many times throughout this book, and I’m sure yours will too.  I just had no idea. For instance, a movie theater fundraiser? The new hire fundraiser? The office pool fundraiser? And many are pretty easy to do just in case you want to start small and work your way up.

Joe rounds out his book with his “Seven Steps to Success.”  They are, in brief:

  1. Start by Looking Within (what are your assets?)
  2. Have a Target, Aim for a Bull’s Eye (Start with those closest to you and work out)
  3. Get the Blessing of Your Boss (You may have to bring him or her along gradually)
  4. Focus on Building Your Brand (nonprofit brands are built on relationships)
  5. Don’t Give Business Giving too Much Attention (fundraising with businesses is just one part of your fundraising. Don’t get dependent on it)
  6. Put Your Boxing Gloves On (be willing to do most of the work when necessary)
  7. Get Professional Help (Why reinvent the wheel?)

My advice? If you want to get beyond sponsorships and the most obvious cause-marketing campaigns, get Joe’s book.  It will open your imagination to the many ways your charity can work with the businesses all around you in some creative, simple, and lucrative ways.

If there’s a lesson here, it’s that smaller charities need not be daunted by the big cause-marketing campaigns of national nonprofits.  There are friends to be made and money to be gathered for your cause right in your home town, with people you probably already know.