What inspired you and your company to get involved in the policy work supporting afterschool programs in CT?
AT&T Connecticut has actively supported educational initiatives as part of our corporate philosophy. The opportunity to serve as an after school network advisory board member fit well with our guidelines. We also recognize that many in our employee population rely upon quality after school programs.
If an afterschool program is seeking business support for their program or a special project they are undertaking, what is your best advice to them for engaging a business? Is there a right way to approach a business?
I would suggest that the after school programs research the company and learn about their corporate guidelines for support and involvement first. When creating any partnership, each partner should find value in that relationship. When submitting a proposal to a company, the after school program should tailor the request to that individual company.
Be clear and specific in your request. Companies receive requests for funding that far outnumber our ability to support. Initially, I would suggest sending a one or two page request. Identify who you are, your priorities, very concise statistics, involved stakeholders and how you can help the company meet its objectives.
Personal contacts provide the best approach to a business. Lacking a personal contact within a company, you might consider asking an already involved business or valued stakeholder to make a personal call on your behalf.
What does a business want in return for its support of a program? Is recognition of their support important?
After school programs should realize that companies have varied interests when providing support to organizations. Some companies limit support to geographical areas in which they do business, others are concerned about publicity (PR) that can be used at the community level, others seek programs in which their employees find value, and some have specific areas in which they fund opportunities such as technology and financial programs. If possible, after school programs should try and meet those expectations.
Once a business offers support for your effort, be sure to recognize them when appropriate. Include them in major events and keep them aware of your efforts. Short emails citing major activities should suffice. Finally, touch base periodically to ensure that their expectations are being met.
Thank you. This has been very helpful. If afterschool programs reading this interview have more questions on engaging business, would you be willing to provide additional feedback?
Absolutely. Afterschool program providers are providing a critical service for today's kids, families and communities. I salute their efforts and wish them luck.
Send your questions for Tom on engaging business to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About AT&T Corporate Philanthropy
As a result of the corporate merger between SBC and AT&T, the two corporate foundations are now merging into a new AT&T Foundation. The new AT&T Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AT&T Inc., will invest more than $60 million in philanthropic giving in 2006 to support programs that improve access to information technologies, technology training and professional skills development. Since 1984, the former SBC Communications Inc. and the SBC Foundation have contributed more than $1 billion to nonprofit organizations around the country. Likewise, the former AT&T Foundation has distributed grants of more than $700 million since 1984.