Steady growth in the non-profit sector[i] coupled with progressively collaborative approaches to global development[ii] characterise corporate philanthropy today. Now more than ever, firms field a barrage of sponsorship requests from the expanding population of community organisations, schools, sports clubs, and even professional fundraisers. These requests may be for financial resources, or perhaps volunteer time or even in-kind donations, all of which can underwrite any number of worthwhile events, programmes, or causes.
When managing corporate giving for your organisation, you receive each request and initially reference your firm’s predetermined giving objectives for a quick eligibility test (a Practical Giving Guide for identifying your focus in giving is also available). You then carefully consider the merits of the request, sometimes within the context of defined parameters, and sometimes, there are no parameters or requirements to meet, before deciding to cut a check against your annual budget. This cycle repeats itself at varying pace throughout the year, generally peaking around the end of the calendar year.
Likely, your year-end budget does not draw down neatly to zero and you find yourself in one of two troubling scenarios. You either spend the last few weeks of the fiscal year struggling to find worthy outlets for the remaining funds or run out of budget early and must decline the inevitable end-of-year requests.
Regardless of how the fiscal year ends, this timeless approach is known as reactive giving. Its key characteristic is the reliance on unsolicited or generic proposals for corporate gifts. Reactive giving is driven by the supply of proposals from community organisations to your firm, rather than your demand for them.
It is not to say that the reactive giving approach is inherently flawed. In fact, this approach is a testament to the generosity of the region and suits the needs of many firms, including the community organisations it supports. This kind of giving can be impactful, particularly in emergency situations, and it certainly is not going anywhere soon.
Since the reactive giving approach in the region is well practiced and needs no additional tactical strategies to operate, we will turn our focus to the other end of the spectrum, proactive giving.