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Nonprofit professionals know better than anyone just how difficult it can be to find funding. It’s a limited resource for a massive field of qualified and deserving candidates. As that field gets more and more crowded, fundraisers have to get more and more creative with how they acquire donors.

Corporate giving is a donation avenue that has been somewhat underutilized, but is steadily growing. Just last year, according to GivingUSA.org, corporations contributed more than $17.7 billion to charitable organizations, which was a 13.7% year-over-year increase. Fundraisers need to get out there and bring in those funds.

Luckily, corporate philanthropy encompasses a diverse range of opportunities for nonprofits. That way every organization can seek out the forms of corporate giving that best suit their particular circumstance and constituent base.

As a start, it never hurts to research the top corporations in your region to see what they’re offering. (Also read: Who to Ask for Donations.)

Within the large scope corporate philanthropy, its varieties abound. Given the diversity, we’ve decided to zero in on three specific forms as a means of introduction. Leverage these three program types and breathe a little easier as your nonprofit gets leaps and bounds closer to being able to serve its mission.


Corporate philanthropy


1. Matching gifts

Once you learn about matching gifts, you’ll wonder where they’ve been your whole fundraising life and how you got by without them. They’re that beneficial.

Through employee matching gift programs, corporations match employee donations to eligible nonprofits and educational institutions. It is standard for a matching gift to double a donation, and sometimes you can even expect to see the qualified donations triple or quadruple, all according to something called a match ratio.

The best way to understand matching gifts is to walk through an example scenario:

Imagine a donor has just given your nonprofit a $100 donation. That donor works for a company with a 1:1 match ratio, meaning the employer will donate exactly what the employee has given. For this particular donation after the donor submits the request, your nonprofit will have received $100 from the donor plus $100 from the company, for a total of $200. Twice the expected funding, all because of a brief request.

Matching gift scenarios can vary drastically from corporation to corporation. General Electric and Microsoft have two of the most established, active, and generous matching gift programs. Many small and medium-sized companies, all across the U.S. and the globe have programs as well. Matching gifts can come from many types of businesses. It is therefore important to always keep an open mind.

Matching gifts are the ultimate two-for-one special. Start promoting them today and watch the extra funds roll in.

2. Dollar for Doers

Otherwise known as volunteer grants, the catchily titled Dollar for Doers programs convert volunteer hours into donations. They are designed to encourage employee volunteerism.

These aren’t the typical grants that fall solely on your nonprofit to research and apply for. The submission process is usually straightforward and uncomplicated.

With Dollars for Doers programs, employers grant funds to the nonprofits that their employees volunteer with.

Usually, the program guidelines will be broken into tiers based on hours volunteered. For instance, one company may specify that 25 hours equate to a $400 grant and 50 hours equate to a $1,000 grant.

There are some common restrictions for volunteer grants. Typically, the programs will stipulate that an employee:

  • Can only receive a grant for one nonprofit per year
  • Can only earn money up to a certain yearly grant amount limit

Even with limitations, nonprofits can get a lot out of their loyal volunteer bases this way. The benefits for nonprofit recipients are two-fold. On one side, the nonprofit has an active volunteer. On the other side, the nonprofit is given funding. It’s win-win.

3. Volunteer support programs

Speaking of volunteer grants leads me to another invaluable corporate philanthropy option — volunteer support programs. It is easy to get tunnel vision and focus heavily on fiscal donations, which tends to make volunteers the unsung heroes of the fundraising community.

Volunteer efforts are certainly important to serving nonprofits’ respective missions, but they’re not as heavily sought after. Of course, donations have to be a top concern, but volunteering shouldn’t fall by the wayside, and volunteer support programs can make a huge difference in a nonprofit’s service capacity.

Through volunteer support programs nonprofits can seek employees with special skill sets to help in organizational areas of need.

Free services could be:

  • Business consulting to improve how the nonprofit is run
  • Construction and building advice/help for donated homes
  • IT assistance from a technology company

With the help of a volunteer support program, your nonprofit can have free access to services that would have otherwise come at a price. Although this form of corporate philanthropy is not directly financially beneficial, the money it can keep your nonprofit from spending is its own form of donation.

If you’re interested in one of these forms of corporate philanthropy, make sure you have accurate employer data in your nonprofit CRM.

It is always good to promote all three of these program types, but it can also be helpful to take a scan through your own donor records, highlight top candidates for say, matching gifts, and make the concerted effort to teach the donor about the possibilities. A major gift plus a matched gift is a fundraising goldmine.

If you don’t have any donor employer details, or if they are out of date or inaccurate, perform a prospect screening and update your database.

These three forms should be a strong foundation and give a solid preview of the corporate philanthropy possibilities. If you’re interested in more ideas, automatic payroll deductions, community grants, and fundraising matches are good places to start.

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 LinkedIn.

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