Corporate giving provides a unique opportunity for nonprofits to launch their fundraising efforts, grow their supporter bases, and make notable progress toward their mission. Although it only represents a fragment of charitable giving, corporate philanthropy brings billions of dollars to the nonprofit sector each year—around $20 billion in 2018.
Corporate philanthropy is intended to be mutually beneficial. Nonprofits receive the support to continue fulfilling their missions while businesses improve their standing in the community and promote a positive, generous work environment.
Despite all the good these programs do, many nonprofits like yours don’t develop a strategy that specifically targets corporate philanthropy. Even if you do have a plan in place, you may be overlooking a few missed opportunities.
Whether you’re looking for one-time fundraising event sponsors or long-term corporate fundraising partnerships, there are several opportunities for local businesses to get involved in your work and give back to the community that supports them. It’s up to you to be aware of these opportunities. To ensure you’re following up on all available opportunities, let’s explore three options that your team should be aware of and actively pursuing:
- Invite them to support your campaigns.
- Search for matching gifts and volunteer grant opportunities.
- Encourage in-kind donations.
Now more than ever, your nonprofit needs all the support it can get. Taking advantage of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the perfect way to bring additional support during these turbulent times to your nonprofit. Ready to form strong relationships with local businesses? Let’s get started.
1. Invite businesses to support your campaigns.
Your nonprofit’s events are a prime opportunity for local businesses to get involved in your fundraising. If you’ve ever put on a major fundraising event, you’ve likely sought sponsors to provide the funding you need for venue costs and catering fees, among other expenses. In these circumstances, businesses provide contributions in exchange for valuable exposure, such as recognition in your event announcements.
According to Funds2Orgs’ unique fundraising ideas guide, you’ll want to seek out sponsors whose values align with yours. When companies engage in CSR initiatives, they’re often on the lookout for nonprofits with similar values. Your nonprofit should take the same approach when lining up sponsorships since these are likely to transform into lasting partnerships.
Like the nonprofit sector, many businesses face unsteady financial circumstances, so they might not be able to provide financial support right now. To avoid excluding businesses from participating, share other ways they can support your cause, such as:
- In-kind donations. Some businesses may already have the resources your team needs for the event. For instance, a local restaurant may be willing to cater the event, or another company may be willing to offer their building as a venue.
- Encourage businesses to post on social media, hang up flyers in their buildings, and send out emails to their contact lists. Your nonprofit’s marketing team should provide them with promotional materials to make marketing even easier for businesses.
- Businesses are an excellent source of volunteers. If you’re running low on staff to run your event, turn to local companies to see if any of their employees would be willing to help out.
Get creative with your opportunities and adjust them to suit the type of campaign you’re running. For example, let’s say you’re hosting a shoe drive fundraiser. In these campaigns, your team will take charge of collecting gently worn, used, and new shoes with the help of a dedicated fundraising coordinator. However, your business partners can launch your efforts forward by getting your cause in front of more community members.
Ask if local stores would be willing to place a collection bin by the front door, encourage employees to participate, and share the opportunity with customers as they browse. See if they’d offer a small discount to customers who donate a pair of shoes, too. This approach is great exposure for your nonprofit, and it’s an incredibly easy way for businesses to contribute.
2. Search for matching gifts and volunteer grant opportunities.
As part of their CSR initiatives, companies often implement long-term programs that provide consistent support to nonprofits. Companies offer these programs to support the causes their employees care about in hopes of improving employee retention.
While there are several employee giving opportunities available, let’s explore two primary CSR programs that your nonprofit will likely encounter: matching gifts and volunteer grants.
One growing phenomenon that nonprofits are capitalizing on is matching gifts. As best explained in re:Charity’s matching gifts guide.
“Matching gifts are a form of corporate philanthropy in which employers financially match the donations that their employees make to nonprofits. Matching gift programs can effectively double the impact of individual gifts made to your nonprofit.”
These programs are a powerful way to maximize the donations you already receive, and it’s important that you make use of these opportunities every chance you get.
Chances are, many of the companies in your area offer matching gifts to their employees. Pay special attention to where your donors work. If you notice several of your donors have the same employer, which can be a strong indication that other like-minded individuals work for the company. Even better, this could indicate that the business might be a strong prospective partner.
For existing partners who don’t offer matching gifts, it could be worthwhile to pitch this idea as a way for them to support your organization and other worthwhile causes long-term.
In any case, this resource explores the idea of leveraging a matching gift database to locate all opportunities. This type of platform will gather all available information regarding which employees and nonprofits are eligible, what the minimum and maximum donation requirements are, and when the deadlines are to submit the requests.
Even though volunteers donate their time rather than money, they can still bring financial contributions to your cause. Through volunteer grant programs, businesses offer monetary grants to organizations where their employees regularly volunteer. Like matching gifts, you might want to pitch the idea of implementing a volunteer grant program to your partners. Not only is this a fantastic source of funding for your programs, but it’s also an incredible volunteer retention tool.
According to recent corporate giving studies, around 80% of companies with volunteer grant programs offer between $8 to $15 per hour volunteered. These numbers can add up, so be on the lookout for these opportunities.
When following the traditional volunteer grant model, businesses offer grants based on an individual employee’s hourly contribution. However, there’s also another type of program known as team volunteer grants that are typically awarded to a nonprofit when a group of employees from a company volunteers together.
The main goal behind this approach is that companies want to emphasize team building and community service to employees. Plus, these programs typically offer a higher hourly donation rate, so keep your eyes peeled for these programs.
3. Encourage in-kind donations.
Nonprofits tend to focus on monetary solutions like sponsorships and grant opportunities. This approach means they often overlook an extremely beneficial non-monetary option known as in-kind gifts. We touched on the idea of in-kind donations earlier, but let’s explore the concept in-depth to ensure you’re capitalizing on every opportunity.
Not every business has the financial capacity to contribute tons of cash, especially among the current economy. More often than not, they do still want to give back to their communities by donating to a worthy cause. In-kind donations can include things like:
- Companies can donate tangible items like clothing, supplies, and other materials you need to fulfill your mission. This request is especially useful if you’re hosting a drive-style fundraiser.
- Need some extra helping hands around the office, in the field working for your cause, or out in the community collecting contributions for your drives? A business’ employees may be willing to lend their time to your nonprofit free of charge.
- With limited resources, smaller nonprofits may have limited knowledge in areas like website building or nonprofit taxes. Corporations may be willing to offer their expertise so that you won’t have to hire a third party.
Your best bet is to seek local companies that offer or sell the in-kind donations you’re seeking. For instance, if you’re part of a local sports team and searching for low-cost sports fundraising ideas, reach out to athletic stores and request in-kind donations of sports equipment. When you need help with your nonprofit taxes, turn to a local lawyer who deals with taxes regularly.
Remember, in-kind gifts are just as valuable as monetary support. Instead of always requesting cash donations, try asking for in-kind support. Businesses will be able to anticipate the exact impact they’ll have on your cause, sparking a desire to contribute.
Regardless of their financial situation, businesses of all sizes can get involved in supporting charitable causes. Whether they’re looking to support a single event or provide long-term support, there are plenty of possibilities available to businesses.
Corporate philanthropy comes in many shapes and sizes, including sponsorships, matching gifts, volunteer grants, and in-kind donations. It’s up to your team to locate these opportunities and proactively reach out to the companies that will best support your cause and launch you toward your fundraising goals.
Guest Post provided by Wayne Elsey – CEO Elsey Enterprises