GuideStar Blog

Corporate Philanthropy: An Overlooked Source of Fundraising for Nonprofits


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.

Corporate philanthropy gets overlooked as a fundraising strategy for a number of reasons:

  1. It’s less traditional than simply asking donors for contributions.
  2. It relies on a partnership of sorts between companies and nonprofits.
  3. The promotion process for corporate and employee giving programs requires a bit of research.
  4. It’s just not what most nonprofit professionals think of when raising money.

Many companies use corporate philanthropy as a way to:

  • Give back to their local communities.
  • Increase employee engagement.
  • Foster meaningful partnerships with local nonprofits.
  • And more!

This article is going to look into some of the best corporate philanthropy initiatives and programs that nonprofits can take advantage of.

Whether you want to start looking into matching gifts, in-kind donations, challenge grants, or anything in between, we’ve got the answers right here!

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.

1. Matching Gifts

corporate_philanthropy_1.pngMatching 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:

  1. A supporter makes a contribution to your organization.
  2. The donor submits a matching gift request to their employer.
  3. The employer reviews the request.
  4. 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.

All your organization has to do is promote matching gifts to your donors and encourage them to submit requests to their employers.

You can encourage your donors to look into matching gifts:

  • Within your emailed newsletters.
  • On social media.
  • On your “Ways to Give” page.
  • During the donation process on your online donation form.
  • On an acknowledgement screen.
  • On a dedicated “Matching Gifts” page.
  • And more!

Before moving on to the next point, check out the three tips for matching gifts that every organization needs this year.

2. Volunteer Grants

corporate_philanthropy_2.pngVolunteer grants are the distant cousins of matching gifts.

They are monetary rewards that employers give their employees after an individual or team of employees volunteers at a nonprofit for a certain amount of time.


50% of employees who volunteer for the first time in 2016 will do so through their place of work. Some of those employers will offer volunteer grants.

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 letting them know when their threshold is coming up!

3. Fundraising Matches

corporate_philanthropy_3.pngDoes 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:

  • Marathons
  • Walk-a-thons
  • Cycling races
  • 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!

4. Community Grantscorporate_philanthropy_5.png

Companies are often looking to give back to their local communities.

One way that they do so is by issuing grants to eligible nonprofits.

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.

Look into community grants as a way to supplement your existing fundraising efforts!

5. Challenge Grantscorporate_philanthropy_6.png

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.

The “challenge” in question is usually fiscally-based and requires the nonprofit to raise a certain amount of money before a deadline.

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.

Challenge grants generally involve regular check-ins with the company to ensure that goals are being met and that the organization is on track.

If you want to learn more about challenge grants, take a look at this article.

6. Payroll Deductionscorporate_philanthropy_7.png

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.

Payroll deductions are a great way for donors to give automatically to the nonprofits and causes that they feel strongly about.

7. In-Kind Donationscorporate_philanthropy_8.png

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.

Asking for in-kind donations can also help strengthen corporate/nonprofit partnerships.

8. Talent- or Service-Based Donations

dtd-guidestar-talent-or-service-based-donations.png

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 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!

9. Internal Employee Fundraisingdtd-guidestar-internal-employee-fundraising.png

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.

10. annual Grant Stipend

dtd-guidestar-annual-grant-stipend.png

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.

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.

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And there you have it--the top ten 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.pngThe preceding is a guest post by Adam Weinger, President,Double the Donation. Adam is blending his corporate experience with nonprofit fundraising. After speaking with a host of nonprofit organizations about the need to access matching gift funds in a cost effective way, Double the Donation was born.
Topics: Corporate philanthropy
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