Responding to a query by a fellow marketing professional about how much to give to whom, Andrew Rose, Director of Marketing and Business Development at accounting firm Naden/Lean, LLC chimed in with some excellent tips.
To manage those random requests for dollars:
One of the best things I took away was creating an on-line request form that solicitors should use to apply for sponsorships or contributions, providing me with the requisite information for me to make a decision.
And a policy for annual monetary contributions to clients:
We also have several large non-profits that are clients. I determine, based on their activities and billing, what would be a good dollar amount to allocate to them. I then communicate early in the year the total dollar amount to their executive director or development officer. I let them know they can use the money in any way they wish, but we would like exposure in return. This has lead to some ‘creative,’ mutually beneficial, sponsorship opportunities from them.
Lastly, be generous with the Joe:
We also will donate a nice, fair-trade coffee basket to almost any non-profit that asks for it. We tend to get as much bang (or more) for the buck from these baskets. Cost for the baskets is less than $100, but we get mention in event brochures and, more often than not, there is an announcement at a meal about our nice basket.
Andrew's contribution request form is what surprised him most. Though he and his partners point many people to it, the take up has been little, if any. Guess it's just too much trouble to fill out...
As an aside, Andrew, located in Maryland, learned these tidbits at a meeting of the Marketing Directors Support Group he founded in 2003. The "by invitation only" group which started as a few marketing types from across a variety of sectors has now grown to about 400 members. It's billed as "an educational and peer support group of marketing and business professionals." They meet monthly and bring in gurus on all sorts of topics.
The corporate giving topic was expertly fielded by Jim Choplick, marketing and communications professional (formerly with Constellation Energy--a big corporate giver) who credits colleague, Leanne Posko as the true expert (they are both SO humble).
Andrew says the two are "the most knowledgeable people I know in this area."