Managing Corporate Relationships

Billy Fluck
Billy Fluck
  • Updated

This article is aimed at anyone managing the day to day tasks related to corporate giving (memberships/sponsorship/events) and the relationships with those organisations. We'll outline best practice when using Spektrix fundraising tools to research and cultivate corporate prospects, administer corporate partnership benefits, steward relationships and report on progress against targets.

The article will cover the following:

NOTE: this article assumes a basic knowledge of Spektrix and particularly the Opportunities Interface, but we’ve also linked out to relevant articles where possible so that you can investigate how to use each feature if you’re not familiar with it. Alternatively, you may want to check out these other articles for a more detailed explanation of Spektrix fundraising system concepts:

Research

If you’re looking to top up your pipeline of prospective organisations to partner with or solicit for support, the first thing to do is identify who’s worth researching further, as you won’t want to fill your database with organisations who would immediately be ruled out. Think about the following questions:

  • Are you looking for support for a specific project or department (like a capital campaign or your education department), or more general support?
  • Are you looking for sponsorship for a particularly large event?  
  • Do you strictly need funding, or could you benefit from working with volunteers and other in-kind support?
  • Would a partnership with a clothing company, makeup company, food company, or an event space be able to provide you with useful tangible benefits?
  • What specifically can you offer to companies in return for their support? Credit in your marketing materials, a listing on your website, free tickets, volunteer opportunities, or other things?

Consider opportunities with small businesses in your local area or branches of larger corporate companies. You might also look at who sponsors similar organisations, which you can typically find by looking at those organisations’ annually published accounts or their websites.

When researching corporate prospects, consider whether their overall values match your own organisation’s, whether they can offer what you need and whether they will be able to take advantage of what you’re offering. If not, you'll likely end the research there; otherwise, this is a good stage to add them to your database for further investigation.  

Adding prospects to your database
For details on creating Customer Records (for both organisations and individuals) in Spektrix, see this article (note that you can follow the same process in the Opportunities Interface by heading to the People dashboard).

Once you’ve added your prospects into Spektrix, use their Customer Records to keep track of all the information you have on each one - you can do this using the sticky notes.

In the Opportunities Interface there are two kinds of sticky note; blue and purple. Blue sticky notes are shared across both the Sales and the Opportunities interfaces, while purple sticky notes are only visible in the Opportunities Interface.

As purple notes are only visible to Opportunities users, you can use them to note down anything which isn’t relevant to Sales users, such as any research you’ve gathered thus far. Note down why you feel each prospect is appropriate for your organisation and anything you already know about the level of support they could provide - this will serve as a reminder for you when you revisit this prospect, and also means your colleagues won’t need to do the same work again in future.

Blue notes can be used to flag information to Box Office/Sales staff in the Sales Interface when they interact with the customer. For example, you might add a note here to let box office know to provide them with a complementary programme or merchandise on arrival.

Linking prospects to Campaigns
At this stage, you’ll likely want to research the prospect more thoroughly as part of a particular Campaign. If you don’t already have a Campaign created specifically for Corporate Sponsorship, this article will walk you through how to set one up. We’re assuming here that you follow our recommended Campaign structure (in which Financial Year is the Campaign, giving stream is the Sub-Campaign, and specific strands within are the Sub-sub Campaign).  This means that corporate fundraising within your Campaign structure will look something like this:

This is the perfect time to link the prospect to your Sponsorship Campaign by creating an Opportunity at the Research stage of your Campaign. You can read more about Campaign Stages in this article. If you have a specific amount of money you’re hoping for (if the sponsorship is a financial donation), add this to the target amount at this stage.

Read this article if you’re not familiar with how to create and manage Opportunities.

Adding/recording key contacts
As you’re researching companies you may find some key contacts who you wish to add to the main organisation record. Once you’ve added each contact to your database, link them with a relationship type such as Employee/Employer, and set the primary contact on the organisation record. See this article for full details on how to set up and administer relationships in Spektrix.

This is also a great way to record any personal relationships which are useful for you (or anyone else on your team) to know. For example, if a board member or your Executive Director has a contact within a particular company, add a relationship between them (such as Influencer) so that you can see it at a glance on the organisation record and can leverage this relationship if needed.

Managing your research tasks
Once you’ve added Opportunities to your key prospects you can easily go back and find the ones you need to research by filtering your Opportunities Dashboard to show Opportunities in your Sponsorship Sub-sub-Campaign and at the Research stage. See Navigating the Opportunities Interface for more information on how to do this.

When you finish your initial research on the prospect, add useful research notes to the Opportunities' notes and move them to the Involve Campaign stage. Alternatively you might want to add them straight into Cultivate if you’ve found that they already have an awareness of your organisation and matching goals.  

For any prospects who aren’t appropriate for this campaign, close the Opportunity but add in any notes as to why they weren’t appropriate. This means if you or a colleague identifies them in future, you’ll know why you didn’t proceed in conversations with them at that time. It’s useful to close Opportunities in the stage they were in when you realised they were not a good match.

Cultivation

Now that you’ve qualified a company you’d like to approach for support, the next step is to begin building a relationship with them. The aim of this stage is to arrange a variety of touch points with your prospect to raise their awareness of your programme and involve them in your organisation’s activities.

Planning
By this stage, you’ll likely have a fair amount of research which shows how and why a company is a good match for you, and you can begin to formulate a solicitation plan. We recommend you use Activities to record all of the touch points that you’ve had or are aiming to have with each prospect, to keep key decision-makers warm and aware of your offering, as well as to record any key deadlines for submitting a sponsorship proposal or a report. See this article for more information on how to set up and use Activities.

You can link Activities to specific Organisational records or Opportunities, or simply use them as reminders for yourself - both options are useful for different purposes. Linking an Activity to an Opportunity means it will appear on the relevant prospect’s Customer Record,Timeline, and in the Opportunities Dashboard, so make sure that any time you carry out an Activity in relation to a specific Opportunity, you link the two together.

Note: even if you don’t link an Activity to a Customer or Opportunity, it will still appear in your Activities Dashboard. For example, you might want to set a reminder to update your Development Director about a particular corporate fundraising strategy - this isn’t specific to a single Opportunity, but is still worth creating as an Activity to help you manage your workflow.

A solicitation plan for sponsorship might look something like this:

If you have a proposal deadline or a time that you would like to have the sponsorship secured by, add that in as an Activity - it will sit at the top of the Timeline, giving you something to work back from. You can then fill in the Timeline with all the rest of the Activities you’re planning for the relationship in order to build up to that point.  

Some more suggestions for using Activities:

  • Upload relevant documents to your Activities so that you or your colleagues can easily refer back to them.
  • Assign Activities to the person who will be completing them. For example, if your Head of Development is going to be getting coffee with someone, assign the task to them.
  • Log every communication that you have with an organisation even if it’s just grabbing a coffee or having a chat after a show they attend.
  • Make notes in the Activity to record what you discussed or decided upon, or anything that you would want to remember.

Managing moves
The concept of Moves Management is all about changing people’s attitudes so they want to give - read more about it in this blog post. The Moves in question are the actions you take to move someone from a prospect to a donor, and in Spektrix terms your Activities are how you record those moves. While Moves Management is traditionally applied to individuals, we use this methodology to guide all strands of fundraising, including fundraising from corporates.

There are various tools available in Spektrix to help you keep track of your Activities and how you’re progressing with your solicitation plan. The Timeline (mentioned earlier) allows you to see all of the Activities assigned to a specific individual or organisation at a glance. As you work through your plan, mark off the Activities as complete, adding notes as appropriate; the Timeline will then fill out as your conversations progress. You can even filter a Timeline to only show Activities relating to specific Opportunities, past and present.

Additionally, create custom tabs in the Activities Dashboard to display only the Activities that meet certain criteria - for example, all incomplete Activities assigned to you which have a due date in this financial year. Our article on Activities details this further, in the section on ‘Keeping Track of Activities.’

You can also schedule Activity reports to be emailed at regular intervals, featuring your (or your team’s) upcoming Activities. See this article for more information on Report Schedules and how to set them up. If you’re looking to report on your Activities, please log a Report Request with the Spektrix Support team and let us know what you need, so that we can help identify or build a suitable report for you.

Lastly, use the Bcc email to Activities feature to automatically log your emails to prospects by creating Activities directly from the emails. Read this article for more information on Bcc Emails.

If it’s useful for these Activities to be associated to specific Opportunities then you can just edit each Activity and add the Opportunity to it manually; this will then show the email in the organisation’s Timeline too.

Negotiating a Partnership

Once you’ve built a relationship with and fully understood a company and what you can offer each other, you’ll be ready to submit your corporate sponsorship proposal. This part of the process will differ each time as every partnership is unique and may involve different steps. Agreements with different organisations may look vastly different, however Spektrix is flexible enough to record many types of partnerships.

Having submitted your proposal, head back to your Proposal Submission Activity, upload your proposal as an attachment and mark the Activity as completed.

At this stage, now that you know you have established a relationship with your prospect, add in any Activities for planned follow-ups. You’ll want to keep driving the conversation forward so that you’re still on their radar and ensure your proposal stays near the top of their priorities. For example, you might add an Activity to invite them to lunch with you and your team, or offer an invitation to one of your Corporate events as a preview of the ongoing benefits they can have when they’ve agreed to support you.

Confirm

Having come to an agreement with a company, you will want to log their sponsorship in Spektrix. There are multiple ways that this contract might be recorded, from corporate memberships to one-time donations, depending on the type of corporate sponsorship.

Record agreement/contract
Once you’ve heard back from a company that they’ve agreed to support you, create a new Activity to mark this in your relationship history with them. Attach your contract with them to the Activity in order to access it easily in future

You’ll want to move the Opportunity to the Confirm stage. If they’re donating money to you in the form of a one-off gift, you can process the donation directly from the Opportunities interface.  If you’re in the UK, Gift Aid won’t be claimed on any donation made by an organisation, so you’re not at risk of accidentally claiming on that gift if you make claims directly from Spektrix. If you make your claims another way, and want to ensure your Spektrix reports are reflecting this correctly, you can always get in touch with the Spektrix Support team to discuss this further.  

If the corporate sponsor is giving in instalments, create a Pledge to keep track of all future payments. This article explains how to effectively log, track and pay off Pledges in Spektrix.

Logging/tracking sponsorship
The way you log and track your relationship with a company will depend on the terms that you have committed to. Here are some suggestions:

  • One-off gift: as this doesn’t recur, you can just thank them in your usual way and close the Opportunity.
  • Multi-year sponsorship with funding recognised in the fiscal year it is paid: first, process this year’s donation and close the relevant Opportunity. Next, open a new Opportunity in the next financial year (this will likely be a new Campaign), straight in the Confirm stage. Log any points of contact regarding the following year’s sponsorship as Activities against the new Opportunity, then lastly create a Pledge for the next year’s payment. Do this for all subsequent years of agreed support.
  • Multiple payments with funding recognised in the first year only: if sponsorship will be split into multiple gifts throughout the current year, or paid in future years but recognised in your current financial year, then keep the original Opportunity open and use a single Pledge with multiple instalments. When the final payment is made, close the Opportunity.  Open a new Opportunity in the following year’s Campaign if you’re likely to begin the cultivation/proposal again.

Regardless of which method you use, make sure to use Activities to track all known stewardship activity - for example, when reports are due to the company, when they should be invited to certain events (if known), or when members of that company will volunteer at your venue. Note that you can attach both open and closed Opportunities to an Activity, so even if your stewardship is ongoing, you don’t necessarily have to leave the Opportunity it pertains to open. We’ll discuss this further in a later section.

Corporate membership
How you set up corporate memberships in Spektrix depends on how you want your members to take advantage of their benefits. For example, if a contact at the corporate member organisation administers the distribution of free tickets, you could set up a Corporate Membership for them with a set amount of credit to spend, or give that Membership Type a corresponding Offer to allow the organisation to take advantage of discounts.

However, if you want your corporate members to be able to self-serve when it comes to using their benefits, then we recommend implementing Auto Tags instead. This will be useful if employees at any of the companies who support you enjoy free tickets, or other benefits that they manage individually, rather than going to a colleague of theirs who manages the relationship with you. An effective way to help administer this would be to create an Auto Tag that would grant anyone who’s an employee of that company, or who has the right Membership, eligibility to any relevant Offers.

You can also use Memberships in Spektrix to process corporate gifts, by overriding the price of the Membership to the specific value of the gift (see this article for details on how to override a Membership). If you don’t need to report on tax for these gifts then they can be processed as donations to any relevant Fund.

NOTE: for UK users, since you can’t store Gift Aid declarations against an organisation’s record (as opposed to an individual), you’re not at risk of making a false claim on their gift. This is because the order will be owned by the organisation, and not the individual who facilitated it.

Stewardship

Having secured funding from a company, you’ll want to make it as easy as possible to hold up your side of the deal. Setting this up in a way that Spektrix can handle some of the admin, such as limitations on benefits for the company’s staff members, will allow you to spend time focusing on human conversations and decisions outside your database. The better you steward the relationship, the more likely the company is to renew it for another year.

Identifying staff 
There are a few ways the system can help identify staff at a company. Here are some suggestions:

Relationships
If you’ve followed this article from the beginning, you’ll likely already have some of your key contacts linked to the company via Relationships. Do this for as many staff as you might come into contact with, and they will all be listed on the company’s Customer Record.

Tags
Tags let you flag that a customer works for a corporate sponsor organisation without having to input all that information at the start of your agreement. The easiest way to apply Tags in these circumstances is to use an Auto Tag based on customers’ email address domain. When setting up the Auto Tag, use the % sign as a wildcard immediately before the specific email domain to search for any email address which contain that domain - see below for an example of this.

This tag can then be used to power other benefits such as Priority Booking or Offers (more on this below), and staff can log in and receive these on their own account provided they have a valid email for the company.

Alternatively, if an email address isn’t possible, part of your agreement could be that the company must send you a list of staff for you to manually tag, or else issue you a list of named attendees for specific events.

Managing monetary benefits
It might be part of your agreement that staff at the sponsoring company get a certain value of discounted or included tickets, programmes, other merchandise, etc. Here are some ways to implement this in Spektrix:

Credit
One option for giving a company a set value to spend on tickets with your organisation is adding credit to the company’s record in Spektrix which can be spent on absolutely anything on your system. This sets a limit immediately so that once the credit is spent, there’s no way for someone to go over the budget. Any individuals that are linked to the company can act as facilitators on behalf of the Organisation and use the existing credit. An Organisation’s credit can’t be spent online so you’d have full control over who can use this credit and what it’s spent on.

Offers
If there’s a budget for ticket or merchandise discounts for a sponsor company then Offers can be a good way to track this. Read this article for more information on setting up Offers.

Setting an Offer per organisation lets you set an overall limit for that Offer and report on how much has been spent; the limit can even be increased/decreased at any time. Offers are also useful if you only want to make specific Events available, as you can choose which Events/Instances are included. If you’ve tagged the staff using an email domain Auto Tag then this can be used as eligibility for the Offer so that members of the staff team can book online using their own account. You can report on Offer takeup by running the Offer Analysis report.

Invitations to events
If part of your offering is an invitation to special events or receptions then you can record RSVPs and attendance using our Invitation Management tool. You may wish to invite the primary contact at each company and include as many guests as is appropriate; they can provide you with the names of the staff they are bringing at a later date. You’ll see the invites on the individual contact’s record but you can add an Activity to the Organisation record, or if this is one that you already included in your solicitation plan then go back and edit the original Activity to add notes on what they were invited to and who was invited.  

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These examples should give you a good idea of how all of the tools in Spektrix fit together to assist you in your day to day work and future reporting. If you have further questions about best practice for fundraisers or more technical queries, please get in touch with the Support Team - we’re always interested to hear how you’re utilising the fundraising tools in Spektrix.

If you have any comments or suggestions about this article and anything you think it could do better, please fill in this form and let us know - all feedback is useful!

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