As a nonprofit professional, you’re likely familiar with the plethora of ways that organizations can raise money. From traditional strategies like fundraising events and direct mail to more technological methods like text-to-give and online donation pages, fundraising has morphed into a smorgasbord of options.
While you may be familiar with the aforementioned tactics (and some others as well!), you may be less familiar with using corporate philanthropy as a way to raise money for your organization.
Many companies create corporate giving programs as a way to give back to their local communities, increase employee engagement, foster meaningful partnerships with nonprofits, and so much more!
However, corporate philanthropy gets overlooked as a fundraising strategy for a number of reasons:
- It’s less traditional than simply asking donors for contributions.
- It relies on a partnership of sorts between companies and nonprofits.
- The promotion process for corporate and employee giving programs requires a bit of research.
- It’s just not what most nonprofit professionals think of when raising money.
In this article, we’ll look at 10 of the most profitable types of corporate philanthropy programs that nonprofits can (and should!) take advantage of:
- Matching Gifts
- Volunteer Grants
- Fundraising Matches
- Community Grants
- Challenge Grants
- Payroll Deductions
- In-Kind Donations
- Talent- or Service-Based Donations
- Internal Employee Fundraising
- Annual Grant Stipend
Read on for a breakdown of how corporate philanthropy can be integrated into your fundraising strategy!
And if you want to get an in-depth look at corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility, check out Double the Donation’s ultimate guide.
Corporate Philanthropy Program #1: Matching Gifts
Matching gifts are the “buy one, get one free sale” of the corporate philanthropy world.
They are programs that reward employee giving with—you guessed it—matching donations.
Generally, the process for receiving matching gifts goes like this:
- A supporter makes a contribution to your organization.
- The donor submits a matching gift request to his employer.
- The employer reviews the request.
- If your organization meets the requirements, the matching gift is disbursed.
You essentially get two donations for the price of one! You poured time, effort, and oftentimes, money, into your solicitation of the first donation. The second comes at virtually no extra cost to your organization.
So why aren’t matching gifts more popular?
The truth is that many donors don’t know that matched giving is an option, and if they do, donors don’t know how to submit a request.
That’s where your organization comes in! It’s up to you to let donors know that their gifts could be eligible and provide them with the necessary information and resources to make a request. The easier you make it for donors to learn more about matching gifts, the more likely donors are to submit a request.
All your organization has to do is promote matching gifts to your donors and encourage them to submit requests to their employers.
You can promote matching gifts by:
- Sending donors information after they contribute.
- Creating a dedicated page on your nonprofit’s website.
- Sharing the details on social media.
- Publishing matching gift information in your e-newsletters.
In addition to the ideas above, your organization can also promote matching gifts during the donation process as this is the most effective way to get donors interested in submitting a request.
By implementing a matching gift search tool like the one shown below, a donor can simply search for her employer’s program to determine if her gift is eligible and to figure out her next steps.
Before moving on to the next point, check out the three tips for matching gifts that every organization needs this year.
Corporate Philanthropy Program #2: Volunteer Grants
Volunteer grants, also known as dollars for doers programs, are the distant cousins of matching gifts.
They are monetary rewards that employers give after an individual or team of employees volunteers at a nonprofit for a certain amount of time.
For example, CVS Health will award organizations $500 volunteer gants after an employee has volunteered at least 15 hours.
These programs are beneficial for organizations because they get support in the form of time and monetary donations.
Is your nonprofit going after the monetary donations that might be hidden in your volunteers’ time?
If not, then this year might be the time to do so!
Promote volunteer grants just like you would get the word out about matching gifts. Your volunteers won’t submit grant requests unless they know that volunteer grant programs exist at their workplaces!
Many volunteer grant programs require employees to volunteer for a certain number of hours before the money is given to the nonprofit.
Make sure you’re keeping track of your volunteers’ hours and let them know when their threshold is coming up!
Corporate Philanthropy Program #3: Fundraising Matches
Does your nonprofit host an annual marathon? Are you going to try holding a walk-a-thon this summer?
You might want to look into fundraising matches as a way to boost the donations your participants bring in.
Some companies will not only match the donations of their employees, but they will also match the money that those employees raise for fundraising events like:
- Cycling races
- Peer-to-peer fundraising
- And more!
Fundraising match programs are less common than standard matching gift programs, but they are still a viable source of fundraising revenue for nonprofits looking to take advantage of corporate philanthropy.
Next time you host a fundraising event that requires your participants to solicit pledges or donations from their friends and family members, remind them of fundraising matches. You might raise twice as much money from that single event!
Corporate Philanthropy Program #4: Community Grants
Companies are often looking for ways to give back to their local communities and support the missions that align with their core values.
One way that they do so is by issuing grants to eligible nonprofits. Furthermore, corporations also offer disaster relief grants to help local communities during times of crisis.
What makes a nonprofit eligible to receive a community grant, though?
Well, it depends.
Most of the time, a nonprofit must be in the same geographic location as the company. Additionally, the organization’s mission plays a large part into whether or not the grant will be issued.
There is a myriad of other factors that go into grant eligibility. Sometimes, a nonprofit can apply for a grant, but other times, a company will choose which organization will be the recipient.
If you’re interested in learning more about community grants and how you can make a donation request, check out Fundly’s list of companies that offer great opportunities for nonprofits.
Look into community grants as a way to supplement your existing fundraising efforts!
Corporate Philanthropy Program #5: Challenge Grants
Challenge grants are essentially community grants with a twist.
Instead of just applying for and receiving a grant from a company, a nonprofit must complete a “challenge” before the funds are released.
For example, a challenge grant of $5,000 might require an organization to raise an initial amount of $5,000 before the grant is awarded.
The “challenge” in question is usually fiscally-based and requires the nonprofit to raise a certain amount of money before a deadline.
When requesting a challenge grant there are three variables that can affect the guidelines of the grant:
- Timeframe. Some companies may require the challenge to be completed within a few months while others may last the entire year.
- Donation eligibility. It’s important to note that every donation might not qualify for the challenge grant. For instance, the funds raised from a raffle or charity auction might not count whereas individual donations will.
- Updates. Challenge grants generally involve regular check-ins with the company to ensure that goals are being met and that the organization is on track.
Challenge grants can be very beneficial for organizations because they can motivate supporters to donate and even attract new supporters who find the incentive a just reason to give.
For a more comprehensive look at this type of corporate philanthropy program, check out this guide on challenge grants.
Corporate Philanthropy Program #6: Payroll Deductions
Payroll deductions answer the call for employees who want to give to nonprofits in an easy and efficient manner.
They are exactly what they sound like: payroll deductions are automatic donations that are directly taken out of an employee’s paycheck.
The employee decides how much they would like to donate and how often they would like to make that donation.
Generally, payroll deductions are available for a limited group of nonprofits the company has approved. These nonprofits might support a similar mission or work in the communities the company resides in.
For instance, a company interested in STEM education might only allow employees to have payroll deductions to nonprofits with a similar focus.
Payroll deductions are a great way for donors to give automatically to the nonprofits and causes that they feel strongly about.
Corporate philanthropy Program #7: In-Kind Donations
In-kind donations are often given to nonprofits directly from a company or business.
Instead of donating money or volunteer time, a company will give equipment, products, or goods to a nonprofit.
For example, your nonprofit might be hosting your annual gala soon. You’ve sent out all of the invitations, you’ve got great speakers, and the venue is beautiful.
But when it comes time to look for decorations, you find yourself scratching your head.
In-kind donations to the rescue!
Asking a local business to donate decorations or other supplies for your gala can help make your gala a memorable night for your donors.
Further, organizations can request in-kind donations in the form of sponsorships. Let’s go back to our fundraising gala example. Instead of simply asking corporations to provide decorations for your event, you can offer them benefits in return.
Sponsorships usually involve the corporations getting to promote their products and services at the event. Depending on how much they donate, you might offer to showcase their name on your event itinerary, post about their company on social media, or allow them to hand out promotional materials.
This win-win situation gives organizations a much higher chance of receiving donations and can help strengthen corporate/nonprofit partnerships.
Corporate Philanthropy Program #8: Talent- or Service-Based Donations
In the same vein as in-kind donations, we find talent- or service-based donations.
Service-based donations are essentially volunteer hours given by employees with a specific skill set.
Common examples of service-based donations include:
- Legal or tax-related advice.
- IT support.
- Catering services.
- Consulting services.
- And more!
You’ll need to coordinate with companies to determine how much time should be allocated for service-based donations.
Because this branch of corporate philanthropy requires companies and nonprofits to work closely together, it’s crucial that you work hard to form positive and meaningful relationships.
Great partnerships can result in more donations of time, money, and services in the future!
Corporate Philanthropy Program #9: Internal Employee Fundraising
Many companies will institute the corporate equivalent of a nonprofit’s annual fund to raise money for a specific cause within a certain time frame.
While internal employee fundraising is determined by the company, your nonprofit can still learn more about what causes local businesses care about to become the recipient of their internal employee fundraising.
For instance, if your organization works with abandoned animals, you might look into which companies raise money for animal-related causes each year.
Form a partnership with a company whose fundraising interests closely align with your mission. Then, you’ll be on the receiving end of those fundraising dollars given by employees who already have a connection to your organization.
Corporate Philanthropy Program #10: Annual Grant Stipend
The annual grant stipend is our final peek into the corporate philanthropy programs your nonprofit can take advantage of.
An annual grant stipend is a set amount of money that a company sets aside for each employee every year.
Every worker gets to decide which organization will be the recipient of their stipend.
For instance, every year the BP Fabric of America program provides $300 per an employee to donate to whichever organization they choose.
While they are less common than the other programs referenced in this article, annual grant stipends can be a great way to deepen your relationships with companies and employees.
It all comes back to forming a great company/nonprofit relationship. If you have a strong partnership with a local business, you are more likely to be on the receiving end of their donations of time and money.
And there you have it—the top 10 corporate philanthropy programs that nonprofits often overlook when fundraising.
Find out which programs your donors have access to at their workplaces and promote them accordingly.
What about your nonprofit? What corporate and employee giving programs do your donors take advantage of? What advice would you give to other nonprofit professionals for promoting these programs?
Adam Weinger is the president of Double the Donation, the leading provider of tools to nonprofits to help them raise more money from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs. Connect with Adam via email or on LinkedIn.