Adam Weinger | August 29, 2012
Is your nonprofit taking advantage of the wide range of corporate employee giving programs that exist? If not, your organization may be missing out! In 2011, U.S. corporations gave over $14 billion to nonprofits (Source: Giving USA’s 2012 annual Report on Philanthropy for 2011). Much of this funding was donated through employee matching gift and volunteer grant programs.
1. Employee Matching Gifts
Corporate matching gift programs are charitable giving programs created by corporations in which the company matches donations made by employees to eligible nonprofit organizations. For instance, Bank of America matches each employee’s charitable donations up to $5,000 annually. The company matches to all schools and 501(c)(3) organizations including, health and human service organizations, arts and cultural organizations, community organizations, and many other nonprofits. Over 65% of Fortune 500 corporations offer this benefit to employees, so make sure your donors are taking advantage of their employer’s matching gift program.
2. Employee Volunteer Grants
Volunteer grant programs, sometimes known as “Dollars for Doers” programs, are charitable giving programs created by corporations in which the company provides a monetary donation to eligible nonprofits as a way to recognize employees who volunteer.
There are two types of volunteer grants:
- Individual volunteer grants – These are grants that individual employees earn for a nonprofit after meeting certain volunteer thresholds. For instance, through Verizon’s volunteer grant program, the company awards grants after an employee volunteers fifty hours with an organization. In many cases, companies also offer programs where they recognize a few employees each year who exemplify corporate volunteerism. These grants typically range from $5,000 – $15,000.
- Team volunteer grants – Companies create an incentive for employees to organize joint team building / volunteer events. In these cases, companies offer a donation to nonprofits where the team volunteers. For example, teams of IBMers who volunteer at the same organization can request grants of up to $7,500 worth of IBM equipment for that organization.
If you start exploring the programs offered by companies, you’ll see that your organization probably qualifies for support from many local and nationwide corporations.
Taking Advantage of Employee Matching Gift and Volunteer Grant Programs
Increasing fundraising from matching gift and volunteer grants programs can be boiled down to two steps: Raising awareness, and making it easy for donors.
Unfortunately, some companies don’t do a great job publicizing these programs to their employees so non-profits interested in matching gifts and volunteer grants should promote them to potentially eligible individuals. Here are some prime opportunities to explain and advertise the grants:
- Donation confirmation emails and letters
- Online donation thank you screens
- Email signatures
- Newsletter articles
- Social media
Making It Easy
Asking donors and volunteers to check with the human resources department of their employer is one step that may increase access to these corporate giving programs. Perhaps even better is for a nonprofit to assign someone to research corporate giving programs at local employers and match employer programs to individuals donating to or volunteering with the nonprofit. Doing so may identify eligible individuals who then can be prompted to follow through and submit a grant request. Don’t let your donors and volunteers get hung up looking for information. Provide them with as much of the following as possible:
- Up-to-date company policies
- Minimum volunteer hours required
- Printed forms or links to the online submission process
- Your nonprofit’s contact information (Tax ID, address, fundraising contact)
Alternatively, you can sign up with a service that helps donors and volunteers immediately assess their eligibility and gain access to detailed corporate giving information about their employer.
Donors and volunteers want to help! If you raise awareness and make it easy for them, you’ll likely see an increase in grants from corporate employee giving programs.
Adam Weinger is the founder of Double the Donation, a company focused on helping nonprofits increase the amount of money they raise from corporate employee matching gift and volunteer grant programs.