This post is by Brady Hahn, the founder of Non Profit Effect. In this 8-part series, Brady will teach you how to increase your fundraising and better prepare your nonprofit organization for events in 2012. Catch up on parts onetwo and three of this series.

Brady Hahn hosts this 8-part series on reaching your full fundraising potential.

So far we’ve built your dream list of corporate sponsors and partners and researched brands that align with your organization’s mission. Now, we are at one of my favorite parts of the sponsorship process: outreach!

I think the best comparison is asking someone out on a first date. For most people, asking someone out for the first time is nerve-wracking. We’ve all been there! Your stomach is filled with butterflies and all you can think about is “what if he/she says no?” It’s stepping into the great unknown, putting your feelings on the line and telling someone how you feel about them.

On the other side, we’ve all had a crush on someone and waited for them to get the guts to ask us out. Isn’t it the most wonderful feeling in the world when they finally do?

I like to think of every prospective corporate sponsor as that guy or girl waiting to be asked out.

If they don’t have a crush on my organization now, they certainly will be by the end of our first call or meeting. How do I know this? Because all of the research and work leading up to that point has made me confident that they are a great match and share my organization’s values.

Will a lot of people say “no”? Well, yes! In fact, about 80% might say no. But, that’s a great thing! I always say, worst-case scenario, they say yes and you get everything you want and more. The work doesn’t begin until the partnership starts and you have to deliver on what you have sold.

When should you start reaching out for your organization or event?

My answer is: start now and never stop. The more outreach you do, and the more asks you make, the more comfortable you will feel. As they say, practice makes perfect. The goal is to build a routine around outreach, so you are always building opportunities.

  • Bonus Tip: Find the balance that works best for you and your team. The more conversations you start, the more you have to finish. Some people make cold-calls twice a week, others twice a month. Choose the best option, put it in your action plan and stick with it.

Where do you start if you have no leads?

Reach out to the head of PR and Marketing; they are the storytellers of the organization. If they see the value of adding your organization to their story, they will help you drive it through!

  • Bonus Tip: Many companies provide matching gifts for employee donations. Remind donors to submit their paperwork and double their impact. This also gets you on a company’s radar!
  • Bonus Tip: Outreach should be done by the person in the organization who has the strongest relationship to the contact, even if according to LinkedIn it’s multiple degrees of separation.

What tips do you have for making that cold call? Share in the comments below, or on Facebook and Twitter!

Catch up on this series:

Part 1: 8 Questions to Kick Off Your Fundraising

Part 2: Target Prospective Donors

Part 3: 5 Ways to Use Social Media for Research

Brady Hahn is a facilitator, researcher and strategist, Brady specialing in matchmaking non-profits, for-profits and social entrepreneurs. She has developed more than 80 professional development and special events for organizations such as Step Up Women’s NetworkPamper Me FabulousSocial Media Week and her own series, Social Media For Social Good in partnership with Digital LA.