7 Types of Corporate Giving Programs

Every organization’s revenue stream is different, but, for most, at least a portion of fundraising comes from corporate support.

Besides traditional corporate grants, which you apply for directly through a company’s grant making arm, corporations offer a variety of programs to give back to communities where their employees live and work. Collectively, corporate philanthropy accounts for nearly $15 billion in annual giving to nonprofits.

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

Pro Bono Service

Is your organization stretched thin? Do you have a long list of projects that you’d like to tackle in the coming months, but don’t have the manpower? 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 do on your own.

Matching Gift Programs

Employee matching gift programs are philanthropy programs designed to allocate corporate dollars to causes which their employees are passionate about. Corporations do this by matching donations to nonprofits which their employees support. Typically companies with these programs match donations dollar for dollar — effectively doubling employee donations. It’s a win-win situation for everyone:

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

Matching gift programs are based around the idea that taking a bottoms-up approach is an effective way to allocate corporate philanthropy dollars. With over 65% of Fortune 500 companies offering these programs, including many of the nation’s leading employers, some of your donors or members surely work for companies that will match their donations.

Dollar for Doer Programs

Does your organization rely on a regular base of 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% of Fortune 500 companies offer some sort of volunteer grant program. The typical structure is to provide grants of around $10 – $15 per volunteer hour as long as an employee volunteers with the organization on a regular basis (ex. 20+ hours in a year).

Paid-Release Days

Many companies offer employees a few paid release days each year. Paid release days are where a company allows an employee to spend a day or two volunteering within the community during normal work hours and still gets paid for it. Your organization should consider raising awareness around paid-release days especially if you have major fundraising events coming up. If you host a fundraising run / walk, I’m sure the days leading up to the event are hectic. Find major companies in your area with paid-release days and ask supporters who work at those companies to request a day off to help your organization.

Non Cash Donations

Although most companies provide cash donations, some companies prefer to give back to communities in other ways. A typical example is a manufacturing company that is able to provide a greater benefit to organizations through product donations rather than cash donations. For instance, food manufacturers are one of the largest suppliers of food to food pantries. On a more local level, make sure you’re asking local businesses to sponsor events.

Another opportunity is to create a wish-list of items that your organization can benefit from. Think about some of things your organization is planning to purchase in the upcoming months and see if those items can be obtained through non-cash donations. For instance, does your office need to upgrade your computers? If so, many companies who are upgrading their computer hardware may be willing to donate their old equipment.

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

Company Wide Day of Service Events

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 an immense amount of 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.

One tip for organizations looking to pull these events off successfully is to design appropriate sized chunks of work that can be finished by groups of company employees in a single day.

Corporate Community Fundraisers

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 chains partner with national nonprofits, but it’s also a great opportunity for smaller local organizations.

The easiest way to implement such 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 see if implementing such a community-based fundraiser is beneficial to everyone involved. These programs are also a great way to raise your organization’s profile!

The bottom line is that there 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.

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