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May 30, 2019 | Français
Is corporate philanthropy dead? 

Last December, Imagine Canada released Corporate Giving in a Changing Canada (see below), a collaborative research initiative exploring the ongoing evolution of corporate philanthropy and what this means for Canadian companies and nonprofits. The report revealed a trend towards strategic nonprofit partnerships (and away from large numbers of small donations) that represents a shift in the relationship between companies and their communities. 

Of the companies who participated in the study, 78% reported having at least one nonprofit that they consider a strategic partner: an organization with close ties to their business, and with whom they have a long-term commitment. 

This research may be uncomfortable for some nonprofits. Many will fear a world where corporations are writing fewer unrestricted checks and are more interested in leveraging their employees, business strategy, and only select partners to help those in need. But traditional philanthropy alone can’t fix social issues – there simply isn’t a big enough pie. A Canada with a mix of strategic giving, shared value, as well as philanthropy is a move in the right direction. 

For fundraisers, this shift means redirecting effort. Expect to have less corporate funders and spend more time engaging with companies that are strategically aligned with your goals, and who provide larger multi-year donations. There are still resources out there for nonprofits, but the key is to target the right companies. It's about quality of relationships over quantity.    

If strategic giving is the new game in town, then strategic asking is the goal. 
Perfect Partners
We’ve talked a lot about corporate/charity partnerships. But what do these actually look like? Here are two case studies where a corporation has partnered with a charity aligned with their brand. We love seeing these win-win relationships!
Kraft & SickKids
Kraft partnered with SickKids to warm hearts, raise money, and support food allergy and anaphylaxis research. This partnership demonstrates how charities and corporations can align their goals to support a shared mission. Peanuts are the second most common allergy, affecting 1 in 50 kids. Kraft's support of SickKids through their 100,000 hugs program is a win for both partners; SickKids will have funds to support research and innovation for food allergy and anaphylaxis, hopefully leading to fewer peanut-related allergies or allergic reactions (and more peanut butter-loving kids!).
Lyft & Martha's Table
Ride-sharing app Lyft has set itself apart from Uber through CSR and strategic partnerships. Lyft recently partnered with Martha’s Table in D.C. to help those in the community who live in “food deserts” — parts of the country without fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods. Through this strategic partnership, Lyft is directly supporting Martha’s Table in achieving its mission, helping a local community, and fulfilling its mission to improve lives with world-class transportation. As far as partnerships go, there are no rotten tomatoes here!
What we're reading
MissionBox: Working With corporate partners: The view from the other side
“Companies are also becoming more aware of the value NGOs can bring in terms of new ideas and new networks: 68 percent of companies polled by C&E said innovation and access to people and contacts were a reason for partnering.”
GuideStar Blog: Fundraising lessons from Freddie Mercury & Queen
“Donors want to give to the organization that will make the biggest difference, even if it means shopping around first. What is it about your organization that is best positioned to solve the problem you were created to address?”
GuideStar Blog: The donor pyramid and marketing funnel have changed
“Both fundraising and marketing endeavored to move folks from (1) awareness to ... (2) interest to ... (3) involvement to ... (4) investment. Now, due to the digital revolution, there’s a fifth and final step. Sharing.”
Classy: 6 ways to simplify your corporate fundraising
“Reinforcing awareness of matching gifts programs on your website and donor communications is low hanging fruit: make sure to take advantage of it.”
Readings from the private sector
Forbes: Corporate responsibility: What to expect in 2019
“‘It will no longer be a choice for companies to embed social impact into their business and brand strategies - it will be required to thrive and compete for talent, customers and investors,’ said Patsy Doerr, Global Head of Corporate Responsibility and Inclusion at Thomson Reuters.”
Adweek: It’s Time to Rethink How Social Responsibility Plays Into Brand Missions
“The only system we know that should work is creating deep consumer disillusionment and deeply impacting how we market brands moving forward.”
Corporate principles to live by
“What gets measured gets managed.”
Peter Drucker, The Practice of Management

"The secret of success is to do the common thing uncommonly well."
John D. Rockefeller Jr. 

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” 
Jim Collins, Good to Great
Learning opportunities and resources 
Free webinar: 5 Weirdly Easy “Life Hacks” That Will Make Your Fundraising Work MUCH Better (CharityHowTo)
June 25: “Collected from a 30-year career of hands-on fundraising, these hacks are practical, easy, and they work! They’ll help you start your projects on the right foot, align your thinking and strategy with donor motivations, write stronger copy, stay on target -- and raise more money.”
Event: Millenials and Boomers - How to Engage Next Generation Philanthropists
Toronto, June 20: These two generations require different engagement strategies. Join three leaders in innovative charitable marketing to explore how to tailor your fundraising approach specifically to each demographic based on their unique interests.
Podcast: Critical Skill for Nonprofits in the Digital Age: Technical Intuition (Stanford Social Innovation Review)
“Not everyone needs to become a tech expert, explains Alix Dunn, of the consulting firm Computer Says Maybe, but this ongoing process of imagining, inquiring about, deciding on, and demanding technological change is critical.”
Report: Corporate Giving in a Changing Canada
“A call for evidence-based decision making is changing the nature of giving, replacing impassioned choices with strategic partnerships that also support
business goals.”
Funding opportunities
TELUS Community Boards provide grants to grassroots charities that support local youth in the areas of health and education across Canada. The 13 local Community Boards have now posted their 2019 deadlines. View in Grant Connect.

The RBC Foundation focuses on preparing youth for the future of work, protecting the environment, and helping emerging artists thrive across Canada through a variety of grant, donation and sponsorship programs. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis. View in Grant Connect.

Have a funding opportunity we should feature in Grantseeker and Grant Connect? Email us at
Fundraising inspiration
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