The Most Popular Corporate Giving Programs for Nonprofits

1
Is Your Nonprofit Tapping Into Corporate Giving Opportunities?

Employee volunteers at a sociall responsible company.
Simon Jarratt/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

Do you still think of corporations as stuffy places that your nonprofit needs to beg for support?

If so, you're woefully out of date. Today businesses spend almost as much time thinking about how to be good citizens as about their profits.

That's because we all expect it. Companies take their corporate social responsibilities seriously and actively look for ways to be good for the planet, their communities, and to help their employees become good citizens too.

That is such good news for nonprofits. Every organization’s revenue stream is different, but, for most, at least a portion of fundraising comes from corporate support. In fact, in 2015, five percent of overall charitable giving came from corporations. Furthermore, that percentage increased 3.9 percent over the prior year. (GivingUSA 2016)

Besides traditional corporate grants, which you apply for directly through a company’s grantmaking arm, corporations offer a variety of programs to give back to communities where their employees live and work.

You might be surprised at the number of ways that corporations spread around their corporate giving dollars. Here are some of the most popular programs.

 

2
Pro Bono Service

A pro bono volunteer helping a nonprofit.
franckreporter/E+/Getty Images

Is your organization stretched thin? Do you have an extensive list of projects that you’d like to tackle in the coming months, but don’t have the people power?

If so, perhaps you should look into pro bono opportunities offered by local companies. Take a look at your pool of supporters, and I’m sure you’ll find donors, parents, members, or volunteers who work in nearly every industry.

Need to update your website? One of your supporters probably has a strong IT background.

Do you have an upcoming fundraising event? Perhaps you can engage a local marketing firm to help design marketing materials.

In almost all cases, professional firms who specialize in each area can do a better job with less effort than you can on your own.

3
Matching Gift Programs

Illustration of one hand giving a coin to another hand, representing a matching gift.
Tomacco/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Employee matching gift programs allocate corporate dollars to causes that their employees enjoy supporting.

Corporations do this by matching donations to those nonprofits that their employees support. Typically, companies with these programs match donations dollar for dollar -- effectively doubling employee contributions. It’s a win-win situation for everyone:

  • Employees can increase their donations to organizations they care about.
  • Nonprofits receive additional funding without having to attract new donors.
  • Corporations can offer a benefit that employees appreciate, receive tax benefits, and can give back to a diverse set of nonprofits.

A bottoms-up approach like matching gifts works well for corporate philanthropy. With over 65 percent of Fortune 500 companies offering these programs, including many of the nation’s leading employers, you'll find that many of your donors or members work for companies that match their donations.

4
Dollar for Doer Programs

Company volunteers working with kids.
aflor/e+/Getty Images

Does your organization rely on volunteers? If so, some of them may be eligible to participate in their employers’ dollar for doer programs. 

These are grant programs set up by corporations to encourage their employees to volunteer within their communities. Although not as prevalent as matching gift programs, almost 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies offer a volunteer grant program.

Typical grants range from $10 - $15 per volunteer hour as long as an employee volunteers with the organization on a regular basis (for instance, 20+ hours in a year).

5
Paid-Release Days

Volunteers working cleanup day for a charity.
Simon Jarratt/Corbis/VCG/GettyImages

Many companies offer employees a few paid release days each year, allowing an employee or many employees to spend a day or two volunteering during regular work hours. 

Your organization should consider raising awareness about paid-release days especially if you have significant fundraising events coming up. Find major businesses in your area with paid release days and ask supporters who work at those companies to request a day off to help your organization.

6
Non-Cash Donations (Gifts-in-Kind)

Food Bank
asiseeit/E+/Getty Images

Although most companies give cash donations, some companies prefer to give back to communities in other ways. For example, a manufacturing company can offer a greater benefit to organizations through product donations rather than cash contributions.

Food manufacturers often give their products to a food bank. Lumber companies give building materials to charities such as Habitat for Humanity. On a more local level, make sure you’re asking local businesses to sponsor events.

Also, create a wish-list of items that your organization needs. Think about some of the things your organization plans to purchase in the upcoming months and see if local businesses can give them.

For instance, does your office need to upgrade your computers? If so, many companies may be willing to donate their older equipment.

Although it’s tough to get what your organization needs at the precisely the right moment, publicizing your wish-list makes it more likely you'll receive these donations.  And make sure to share these needs with board members who are well connected in the community.

7
Company Wide Day of Service Events

Company volunteers hugging at a charity event.
Simon Jarratt/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

Could your organization benefit from a large volunteer event? If so, you should consider partnering with a local corporation to create a company-wide day of service.

These events require great pre-event coordination, but if you can pull it off, your organization can benefit from a large group of skilled volunteers. As an added benefit, companies also frequently provide funding for these events.

Be sure to design appropriate sized chunks of work that can be finished by groups of company employees in a single day.

8
Corporate Community Fundraisers (Checkout Charity Campaigns)

Checking out at the grocery store.
fotofrog/E+/Getty Images

How many times have you gone to a movie theater or grocery store and been asked to donate $1 to a worthy cause?

Many of the largest retail, grocery, and food chains partner with national nonprofits. But it’s also an excellent opportunity for smaller local organizations. Such programs are often called checkout charity campaigns because consumers give at the cash register when checking out.

The easiest way to start a program is to take a look at your donor list or board of directors to see who owns or runs a local company. He or she is already passionate about the cause and may be willing to set up a checkout campaign. These programs are also an excellent way to improve your organization’s visibility.

The bottom line is that there are many ways your organization can tap into corporate giving programs. So gather your staff and start brainstorming how to increase the amount of money you raise from companies in your community.