There's new data that demonstrates that businesses that donate to charities earn back $6 in sales for every $1 they contribute.
The businesses that are more likely to enjoy this return are those that sell directly to consumers, such as retail, financial institutions, and electronics manufacturers. This is likely because these companies can and do advertise their giving to the general public. Wal-Mart Stores, for instance, is planning to broadcast a national TV ad that touts its charitable contributions.Yes, this is good data to bring to your meetings with potential sponsors. And, yes, companies should not be afraid to brag about the good works that they contribute to (don't fight it, this gives your nonprofit additional free publicity). But, it's not without ethical questions.
Because when you post a companies banner at your event, or place their logo on your website or annual report, you are essentially advertising for them - and when they advertise their good deeds they are strengthening the perceived link between you and them - all nonprofits must consider the company they keep, not just the dollars they raise.
What I mean is, you really have to consider how compatible your mission is with their product. Many organizations have already made strong points of refusing tobacco or alcohol money, but there may be other, less obvious compatibility issues you should consider.
Before you accept sponsorship from that building development company for your job training program, have you checked on their labor practices or history of labor disputes? When the grocery store supports your drug treatment program, do you look into their marketing of alcohol?
I'm sure I've written about this before, but this is a conversation your management and board should have before the question arises. Have a policy on what types of companies you will go after, and what types of companies you will refuse. And then, when you go after the ones that fit, let them know about that 6 to 1 return on their investment.