5 Ways Businesses Get the Most Out of Corporate Philanthropy Programs
The following is a guest article from our partners at Qgiv, leaders in fundraising technology. Together, CyberGrants and Qgiv leverage software to equip the entire giving ecosystem. So donors and nonprofits can change the world faster with greater impact.
Corporate giving programs do more than help nonprofit organizations fund their crucial programs. Making these programs available to your employees makes them feel good and is seen as a tangible benefit to working for your company. Not only do your employees and nonprofits win by taking part, your business does as well. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your business has an accessible and generous philanthropy program. Read on for five ways businesses get the most out of their giving programs.
1. Tell your employees about matching gifts and volunteer grants
One of the main reasons your corporate giving program is being underutilized is that your employees may not know about it. You can easily overcome this problem by communicating with your staff about matching gift and volunteer grant programs your business operates.
Corporate giving is a benefit of working for your business. That’s why the best time to remind your employees about matching gift and volunteer grants is during your annual benefit renewal period. Even if other aspects of your company’s benefits aren’t changing, ask your human resources department to remind your staff that when they make eligible donations to nonprofits, your company will match that gift. If you offer volunteer grants, send a time sheet to your staff so they can track their volunteer hours and turn their donated time into an additional cash donation for the charities they support.
If you don’t already offer matching gifts or volunteer grants but want to expand your corporate philanthropy program, this is a great place to start. Keeping track of incoming matching gift and volunteer grant requests doesn’t have to be difficult. Companies like CyberGrants offer solutions that make managing matching gifts and volunteer grants simple.
2. Offer corporate sponsorships and in-kind donations
Nonprofit organizations seek sponsorships for fundraising events and programs all the time. Often, sponsoring an event or program is a win-win situation for both the nonprofit and the sponsor. The nonprofit secures funding to cover their event or program costs and they often reciprocate by recognizing sponsors on their websites, at their events, and on their program materials. If your business shares a target audience with a local nonprofit, sponsorship can not only improve your public image but earn you additional customers as well.
Your business can also offer in-kind gifts to nonprofit organizations. If your company offers goods and services that could help a nonprofit (like comping a costly plumbing bill or offering up an item to be sold at an auction fundraiser), set aside a dollar amount in your annual budget for in-kind gifts. You obviously can’t work for free all the time and you certainly can’t afford to give away a store’s-worth of product for nothing, but a tax-deductible gift of goods and services to a nonprofit can provide meaningful tax benefits. But your business can benefit more than that! An in-kind gift can be what inspires a nonprofit to make you their vendor of choice. You may also benefit from customer referrals from the nonprofit you donated your time or products to.
3. Establish a partnership with a nonprofit
Chances are, there are local nonprofits operating in your area. If you’re lucky, some of those nonprofits will have missions that complement the work your business does. Flex your social responsibility muscles and become a true force for good with an established partnership with a nonprofit.
For instance, if you’re a medical supply company and a nonprofit hospital or clinic is using you as their medical supply vendor, you both share the mission of making the communities you serve healthier. Reach out and offer to partner with them in this endeavor.
Partnering with a nonprofit can take several different forms based on what you and the nonprofit are comfortable with. You could agree to be an advocate to the population they serve through legislation, lectures, or marketing efforts; you could champion their fundraising events by agreeing to be their corporate event sponsor; you could fund a program or endowment; you can donate to their nonprofit; work with their organization on a mutually beneficial project; or host a fundraising event at your company and donate the proceeds to the nonprofit. The possibilities are limited only to what you have the bandwidth for.
4. Offer grants to nonprofits
If your business is looking for a significant way to fund nonprofit programs in order to make communities better, advance research in certain areas, or otherwise change the world for the better, consider creating a fund used to make grants to nonprofits.
Grants aren’t just a tool for foundations to give money to charities, for-profit businesses can champion causes important to them with grant funds too. To become a grantmaker, your organization must decide what types of programs and nonprofits to fund. Then, determine the application process and the process for the nonprofit to report their progress and results. The process can be as simple as sending a typed Word document to your corporate grant email address with their grant proposal then waiting for a response from the company’s board of directors.
If you want a more formal grant review process, there are resources to make this as streamlined and efficient as possible. For instance, CyberGrants offers a grant management system alongside their matching gift and volunteer grant tools.
5. Choose a charity to donate company event proceeds to
Many businesses choose a charity and host an annual fundraiser to support that nonprofit. When I worked for a nonprofit hospice organization, a local Wells Fargo Branch hosted an annual employee golf tournament to raise funds on the hospice’s behalf. This DIY fundraiser was a lot of fun for the branch’s employees, the nonprofit didn’t have any expenses related to the event, and the business got the reward of doing something good for both their employees and a local nonprofit!
If there’s a local nonprofit worthy of your support, reach out and make them the beneficiary of a company fundraising event. Let them know what you want to do and ask them if they can send a representative to speak at your event on the nonprofit’s behalf. I can’t think of a single nonprofit that wouldn’t be delighted to hear you’re hosting a fundraising event to support them. Most nonprofits would gladly send an executive or a member of the development staff to thank your employees and talk about their mission. Your chosen charity could help in other ways, too. Want to accept donations for your DIY fundraiser online? Ask the nonprofit if their online giving system supports creating fundraising event pages. Qgiv clients, for instance, can make a peer-to-peer event for DIY fundraisers. This way, your event gets an online donation page, your company doesn’t have to keep track of as many cash and check donations, and the online donations go directly to your charity of choice!
A bonus of supporting a charity in this way is that nonprofits are great at publicly thanking their supporters. You could earn some high visibility publicity from thank-you messages shared on social media and in press releases written by the nonprofit you helped.
Corporate philanthropy is on the rise. Make sure you’re making the most of your corporate giving program by communicating with your employees about matching gift and volunteer grant programs. Want to do more? Offer sponsorships, in-kind gifts, or grants to nonprofits; hold a company-wide fundraising event to benefit a designated charity; or partner with a local nonprofit and champion their cause. Your company can be the driving force behind positive changes in the communities you serve. A strong corporate philanthropy program is the tool you use to make that difference.
Authored by Shay Lessman, Qgiv
Shay Lessman is a writer and editor with a passion for helping nonprofit organizations succeed. He has experience in fundraising communications and has written several successful grants. He is also a proud pet parent of two very naughty dogs. When he's not working at Qgiv, he can usually be found writing poetry, playing games, or listening to podcasts.