Tops Tips for Getting an Initial Corporate Partner Meeting

This month, the Cause Marketing Masters Webinar was a moderated conversation with Kerry Steib, Director of Social Impact for Spotify and Scott Welch, Global Corporate Relations Manager for Columbia Sportswear Company. Below is just a small part of what they discussed in this month's webinar (always free to CMF Members or $99 for nonmembers. Click here to access.)


One of the most frequently asked questions we get at the Cause Marketing Forum is, “How do I get in the door to a corporate prospect?”. Getting a foot in the door is sometimes a tricky proposition. Here are a few tips from our panelists about the best ways to refine your approach.


Send emails to every member of an executive team or multiple departments. It’s inefficient and annoying. Word gets around internally and you end up doing yourself more harm than good. Approach individuals one at a time. If you’re not getting a response, then switch gears and move on to another individual. But, please, no spray and pray approaches.

Pretend to know people you don’t. You’ll inevitably be discovered.

Get angry, impatient or short. Just because a company isn’t able to support you in a particular moment, that doesn’t mean you won’t have a moment in the future.


Figure out who you know that knows someone in the company. This could be an employee, a vendor, a retailer. Even a lower level employee can be a relevant foot in the door. Having those partners make an ask on your nonprofit’s behalf will probably get that door opened more quickly.

Ensure that you’re connecting to the business drivers of the company. This may seem obvious, but it’s important to lead with your understanding about what’s important to the business.

Understand the company’s business cycle, including budgeting. Some times of year are better than others to approach a particular company.

Keep in touch with relevant information that adds value to your potential partners and providing subject matter expertise.

Worth a Shot

Cold calls. While many large companies get huge amounts of cold emails and phone calls, you just never know when a well-placed call will open the door to a new relationship if the timing and fit is right. According to our panelists, this really varied by company.

LinkedIn requests. See cold calls above. Be selective, be educated and put the business drivers first.

What are your best tips for getting corporate doors opened? Share them in the comments below!


Campaign: FitForGood
Company: Fitbit
Nonprofit Partner: American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association and National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Launch Date: November 4, 2015


FitBit has launched FitForGood, a new charitable platform incentivizing FitBit account holders to get moving for a cause. FitBit will divide $1 million between the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association and National Multiple Sclerosis Society depending on which “team” earns the most steps. Between November 9 and November 20, participants can log their steps for the charity they designate. The charitable team with the most steps earns $500,000. Second place equals $350,000 and the team with the least steps receives $150,000.

Our Take:

There’s nothing that fitness fans love more than a challenge and linking this particular effort to a weighty charitable donation is a smart move for FitBit. Two weeks seems like just the right amount of time - short enough to keep interest up, long enough to remind people to pay more attention to their FitBits. Going with large, well-established charities eliminates the need for education about the causes and will likely be effective in mobilizing significant numbers of participants. With guaranteed minimum donations, participating charities can all win while sharing a message that reinforces their mission. FitForGood seems like an initiative that can be repeated throughout the year during, or just prior to, critical sales periods or to counteract historically low sales periods.

Family First Moments

Campaign: Family First Moments
Company: Wendy's
Nonprofit Partner: Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (DTFA)
Launch Date: 9/14/2015


Wendy’s is celebrating "family first" moments this fall by featuring illustrations from four children who were adopted on Wendy's beverage cups in support of its second nationwide Halloween Coupon Books in-restaurant fundraising initiative. From September 14 through November 1, Wendy's will be selling Halloween Coupon Books, which include five or 10 free Jr. Frosty coupons, for $1 with $.86 donated to DTFA. Last year, the Halloween Coupon Book program raised $3.6 million.

Our Take:

Wendy's has taken its point of sale fundraising efforts seriously, successfully leaning on the Frosty as a key consumer incentive. In a recent CMF webinar, we learned from Wendy's and DTFA the importance of having a tangible item as a visual reminder for their cause efforts. These cups are the latest evidence of that strategy, providing not only a physical campaign reminder, but also a touching, individual story to travel with the consumer. An effective blend of storytelling, awareness and engagement.

Doritos Rainbows Chips

Campaign: Doritos Rainbows
Company: Frito Lay's Doritos Brand
Nonprofit Partner: It Gets Better Project
Launch Date: September 17, 2015


This week Doritos released new, limited-edition rainbow-colored chips to celebrate and support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in “the boldest, most colorful way possible” in partnership with the It Gets Better Project. Doritos Rainbows were available by mail after a minimum donation of $10 to the It Gets Better Project and promptly sold out within 24 hours. The Doritos brand will sponsor the Dallas Pride event on September 20 where the Doritos Rainbows chips will also be available to people who pledge their support to the cause.

Our Take:

There is so much to admire about this #BoldandBetter campaign from Doritos. Taking an iconic snack food like Doritos and dramatically changing both product and packaging displayed a strong show of support for the LGBT community and commanded instant consumer attention. While not a tactic commonly employed, requiring a minimum $10 donation to its nonprofit partner on a limited edition product was a winning combination, again showing strong support for the cause. All around, an engaging, creative effort from Doritos and the It Gets Better Project that earned attention, buzz and action.

Target Moves Its CSR Bullseye to Health and Wellness

On August 31, Target proudly announced it had reached its 5-year goal to donate $1 billion to education by 2015. Two weeks later, the retailer started putting schools on notice that an initiative that comprised over 40% of that charitable total would be eliminated. The ‘Take Charge of Education’ program designates 1% of Redcard holders’ purchases to a school of their choice and donated over $432 million to more than 100,000 U.S. public schools since the program’s inception in 1997.

Laysha Ward, Target’s chief corporate social responsibility officer, told the StarTribune that they will shift the company’s social responsibility focus from education to health and wellness. According to Ward, only 10% of Redcard holders were enrolled in the program and many did not remember if they had designated a school. Citing results from consumer surveys as a rationale for the massive shift, Ward shared that consumers now list health as their primary concern.

Ward said ’Take Charge of Education’ will end in May of 2016 and Target will be testing new campaigns this fall. It's likely that the new efforts will take a ‘buy-one, give-one’ format similar to the retailer's back-to-school campaign last year with BOGO-company Yoobi.

Target will focus on three components of wellness including healthy eating, active living and cleaner labels and will also make changes to its products to offer more natural and healthful options.

Target faces stiff competition in the wellness/cause space, most notably from CVS and Walgreens and their well-established focus on healthy living. Is there room for one more? Only time, communications and consumer engagement will tell.

What do you think of this major shift from Target? Weigh in with your comments below!