Originally published on The Center for Sales Strategy Blog on September 12, 2016
Cause Marketing is a buzzword bandied about by many in the nonprofit sector. To some, the concept is a proven method to help organizations solve business problems via an association with a worthwhile cause. To others, it is merely a tactic designed to pitch and sell sponsorships to nonprofit events and initiatives.
In order for a nonprofit development officer to engage in cause marketing successfully, they need to take some time to understand the needs of their prospect before presenting a proposal and asking for money. This understanding enables the development of a proposal customized for the prospect based on a business problem, challenge or opportunity. Simply put, one does not exist without the other: Without an understanding of needs, cause marketing cannot happen and the ask is merely just another ask.
“Seek first to understand then be understood.” Stephen Covey
Many nonprofit development officers ask before they assess needs. For example, it is all too easy to ask a financial institution to sponsor a nonprofit initiative based on belief in the nonprofit mission instead of taking the time to discover that the financial institution is launching an new credit card and needs help with applications. Imagine the power of linking this need with a nonprofit event —like a fun run or walk— that attracts thousands of credit-worthy people. This transforms the ask into win-win proposition that helps the cause and the corporate partner!
Here’s a step-by-step process that world-class nonprofit revenue developers follow to understand client needs. Feel free to take it for a test drive:
- Make a personal connection, establish some rapport.
- Set up the conversation (clarify expectations, yours and theirs).
- Keep your agenda brief (make reference to the valid business reason you used to set the meeting).
- Discuss how you do business.
- Ask some easy-to-answer, not-risky questions to continue establishing your credibility.