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Harnessing corporate giving in today's fundraising landscape

The fundraising landscape is constantly evolving.

In order to best prepare for success and effectively bankroll their mission programming, nonprofit organizations should be proactive about adapting their strategies to maximize their impact. One increasingly relevant aspect of this shifting landscape is the role of corporate giving in nonprofit fundraising.

In this guide, we'll explore:

  • The importance of corporate giving programs
  • How nonprofits can harness the opportunities as they continue to expand
  • What we expect to see in the future of corporate fundraising

Let’s dive in!

Understanding corporate giving opportunities

Corporate giving, or corporate philanthropy, encompasses the various ways a business gives back to society by contributing to charitable causes. For nonprofits, corporate giving opportunities supply them with much-needed financial support, access to valuable resources, increased reach or visibility, and more.

As you flesh out your strategy, understanding the different forms of giving will empower your team to locate available programs. Take a look at the following types of programs and consider how each one can benefit your organization.

Matching gifts

First up, employee matching gifts are one of the most-used types of corporate philanthropy programs. Within this kind of initiative, companies match donations their employees make to charitable causes. When an employee gives, they can submit a matching gift request to their employer, who then verifies the donation and supplies a matching contribution of (typically) equal value.

All in all, matching gifts provide a valuable source of funding for nonprofits, as they effectively double the impact of each donation. Not to mention, the presence of a match can inspire greater individual giving, too!

Employee volunteerism

Corporate or employee volunteerism refers to the practice of a company’s employees donating their time and skills to charitable causes. This provides nonprofits with access to new supporters, valuable time and resources, and unique expertise to drive forward their missions.

There are many forms of employee volunteerism that can benefit an organization, too. These include:

  • Team volunteer events: Companies organize group volunteer activities for their employees to participate in as a team-building exercise or as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
  • Dollars for Doers: Also known as volunteer grants, companies provide financial incentives for employee volunteerism by offering grant funding to nonprofit organizations based on the number of hours their employees volunteer.
  • VTO (Volunteer Time Off): Companies offer paid time off, above and beyond regular paid time off, specifically designated for employees to volunteer for charitable causes. This allows employees to contribute to their communities during work hours without sacrificing their regular pay or vacation time!

Event sponsorships

An event sponsorship involves a mutually beneficial partnership between a nonprofit and a corporation in which the company provides support or resources to help fund an upcoming event.

For nonprofits, corporate sponsorships can cover critical event expenses, such as venue rental, catering, marketing materials, entertainment and more. Additionally, a co-marketed sponsorship effort can drive awareness and increase the reach of an upcoming event.

In return, corporations benefit by gaining exposure, brand visibility and a positive public reputation among the nonprofit's audience and attendees.

Cause marketing

Cause marketing, or cause-related marketing, involves a marketing collaboration between a nonprofit and a corporation. While there is a wide range of benefits for this type of corporate philanthropy initiative, the efforts are generally centered on a shared goal of increasing visibility, awareness and support for each team.

In a cause marketing campaign, the company typically donates a pre-determined portion of proceeds from revenue generated through a specific marketing effort to its nonprofit partner. This might include co-branded product sales, point-of-sale campaigns, percent-of-sales campaigns and more.

In-kind giving

Corporate in-kind giving partnerships differ from other forms of philanthropy in that they involve the donation of goods or services rather than monetary contributions. This can include products (e.g., clothing, food, school supplies, etc.), equipment (furniture, appliances, construction materials, tools, or vehicles), professional services (tax assistance, legal aid, marketing consultations, or advertising) and more.

While no funds are donated directly through this type of in-kind giving, such gifts provide invaluable resources that drastically reduce operational costs, allowing organizations to stretch limited budgets further than before.

Strategies for harnessing corporate giving

A systematic approach to corporate giving enables organizations to tap into a wide range of available funding sources, ensuring no opportunity goes untapped.

Consider implementing the following strategies to get started today. Then, continue to scale your impact and build strong, mutually beneficial relationships.

  • Take advantage of supporters’ workplace giving programs. Engaging employees through volunteer opportunities, matching gift initiatives and other workplace giving efforts is the easiest and most accessible way for an organization to scale impact through corporate philanthropy. Start by encouraging existing supporters to look into their employers' giving initiatives. When you know which companies your donors work for (hint: we recommend collecting employment data to inform your overall strategy), your team can screen for available programs and initiate tailored outreach that drives supporters to get involved.
  • Identify ideal partnership prospects from within your network. Even beyond workplace giving efforts, some of your most optimal prospects for broader corporate giving likely lie in your donor relations system already. Use your data to uncover opportunities and pitch these potential partners. For example, you might identify companies that are well-represented in your donor base and use your shared audiences as a way to demonstrate the value of a relationship with your cause. Or, look for businesses that are well-known for their philanthropy efforts⁠—especially those that have a history of supporting similar causes. 
  • Focus on building a mutually beneficial relationship. The benefits of corporate giving go both ways, so be sure to consider the goals and objectives of the companies supporting your cause. Take the time to develop a compelling proposal and clearly communicate the value proposition for corporate sponsors to foster long-term, mutualistic partnerships. Key benefits to highlight might include increased visibility, brand awareness, and employee engagement. Plus, you’ll want to focus your efforts on companies with similar missions and values, shared audiences, and more.

From there, continue prioritizing ongoing communication and collaboration with your partners to nurture those relationships and drive impact for the time to come.

The future of corporate giving in nonprofit fundraising

Understanding and adapting to patterns in corporate giving⁠—as well as overall nonprofit fundraising⁠—is crucial for nonprofits to ensure their efforts remain relevant and effective. We recommend assessing your organization’s current efforts, identifying a path forward, and building a realistic growth plan to capitalize on these opportunities. Then, continue to grow your efforts over time!

Let’s take a look at a few emerging trends we’ve observed that we anticipate will continue gaining momentum into the year and beyond:

  • Employees and consumers are demanding expanded CSR from companies. In recent years, there’s been a shift in both employees’ and consumers’ expectations regarding corporate social responsibility. Today, employees are seeking out businesses that demonstrate a commitment to giving back, while consumers are spending their dollars with brands making a positive impact on society. As a result, companies are investing in corporate giving and other CSR practices more and more.
  • Businesses are increasingly investing in employee-driven philanthropy. When a company directly involves its workforce in philanthropy efforts, it tends to see increased impact in terms of staff engagement, productivity, retention and acquisition. And, as a result, more businesses are focusing their efforts on employee volunteerism, matching gifts and more. That means nonprofit fundraisers can expect workplace giving to continue to be a powerful way to connect with individual supporters and companies alike. 
  • Small and mid-sized businesses are getting involved. While large corporations have long dominated the corporate philanthropy landscape, small and mid-sized companies are taking on a steadily growing role. So don’t overlook local businesses and other growing enterprises in your search for the perfect corporate giving partners.
  • Nonprofits are taking proactive steps to secure corporate support. Nonprofits today are implementing actionable steps to build relationships with companies and their employees. And it empowers teams to better secure and maximize their support. For example, many nonprofit fundraisers send personalized email outreach following individual donations as a way to inform supporters about matching gift opportunities and encourage them to get involved.

Additionally, organizations are investing in technology and resources to streamline and automate the processes involved with corporate fundraising and stewardship, ensuring effective communication and ongoing collaboration with corporate partners.

Corporate giving supplies a significant opportunity for nonprofits aiming to enhance their fundraising efforts and expand their overall impact. And the potential continues to grow as the philanthropic landscape develops around us. 

By staying informed about emerging trends, prioritizing strategic collaborations with corporate partners, and investing in the right technology to do so, organizations can position themselves for long-term sustainability and success. In the end, you’ll be better equipped to advance your mission and create positive change in the world.

Adam Weinger

Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of matching gift tools to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. Adam created Double the Donation in order to help nonprofits increase their annual revenue through corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs.


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