Do Your Sponsorship Requests Contain Guilt?

Woman With Her Head In Her Hands Unhappy About Something“She asked for money and then gave me that puppy-dog look.”

“He told me I was a big corporation and they were only asking for a little money. He acted like they were entitled.”

“When I told her we could not fund them anymore, she laid into me.”

What to do when your corporate philanthropy generates emotional hijacks?

Reach for perspective.
Sometimes people, even from the best causes, exhibit bad behavior. Of course, this is true of all of us. We re-use behavior that worked in the past, even when it no longer serves our professional lives. We share our wishes. We react with fear. We respond to disappointment. We forget guilt in a poor motivator. In any case, such behaviors don’t serve us well. They also fly in the face of nonprofit best practices. It helps to understand that emotional hi-jacks stem from poor or no skills. Read on for an immediate response.

Calm the screaming emotional content.
Here’s a two-step process to use when you receive guilt based requests.
Recognize the feeling.
Pivot to logic and value–ideally in the requestor’s best interest.
“It looks like you’ll be sad if I say no. Can you tell me why this is valuable to a business so we can determine how you can get more yeses?”
“Other than our size, why did you think we’d value the chance to work with you?”
“Of course you’re disappointed. We’ve enjoyed working with you. We’re hoping to close on an up-beat so that you can leverage this relationship into new ones. What are your thoughts on how we might do that?”
Seek logical returns on your investment that provide value to three parties: you, the nonprofit, and the community. When it comes to nonprofits partners you have 1.5 million choices. Guilt is a poor motivator, don’t let it hi-jack you from your goals. Invest because of value, not guilt.

Karen Eber Davis

Before founding her firm, Karen Eber Davis developed the Sarasota County Community Development Block Grant Program. Under her leadership, this infant program received the National Association of Counties National Affordable Housing Award for the Down Payment Assistance Program. To date, the program helped over 1,800 families realize their dreams of homeownership. She also worked with the City of Ft. Lauderdale and the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, where she developed the division’s first audit program. In an earlier position at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Tampa, she organized senior, youth, and children groups plus family activities. Her youth staffing work with the Florida Synod of the Lutheran Church in America supported youth ministries in 120 congregations in Florida.