3 Things Your Organization Needs to Know about Corporate Philanthropy

Corporate philanthropy is a key component of corporate social responsibility, which is a category of initiatives held by businesses to improve society in some way.

While these efforts often include prioritizing environmentally friendly work practices or committing to offering fair wages to employees, corporate philanthropy has to do with supporting nonprofit organizations via charitable donations of funds, time, and/or resources.

For nonprofits, corporate philanthropy means free corporate support for their missions and programming. If your organization is looking to leverage corporate giving or optimize an existing corporate fundraising strategy, here are three things you need to know:

  1. Common Types of Corporate Philanthropy Programs
  2. Data-Driven Industry Insights
  3. Corporate Philanthropy Best Practices

Making the most of corporate giving is a great way to maximize your revenue and gain critical support for your team. To do so effectively, however, it all starts with a solid understanding of corporate philanthropy and what it means for you. Let’s dive in!

1. Common Types of Corporate Philanthropy Programs

There are tons of examples of corporate philanthropy programs hosted by thousands of different charitable-minded businesses. Here, we’ll discuss a few of the most common types of programs and how you can leverage each for your nonprofit:

Matching gifts

Matching gift programs are one of the most common types of corporate philanthropy and are well-loved by nonprofits, companies, and employees alike. In this type of giving program, corporations pledge to match donations made by employees to eligible nonprofit organizations. While the majority of businesses opt for a dollar for dollar approach, some might match donations at a rate of 3 or even 4:1!

This allows companies to support the nonprofits and missions that their employees are passionate about, build stronger employee relationships, and boost engagement.

Volunteer grants

Volunteer grants also allow companies to financially support the charitable organizations that employees are involved with. However, instead of matching monetary donations to nonprofits, volunteer grants provide organizations with dollars in response to employee volunteerism.

This type of corporate giving is extremely significant for nonprofits because you receive volunteer hours and financial donations at once!

Corporate volunteerism

Another way that your volunteer program can leverage CSR is through corporate volunteerism. A few examples of this include businesses offering paid time off for employees to volunteer or coordinating group volunteer opportunities (often as a team bonding activity).

While this type of program does not often directly result in financial contributions to your nonprofit, it does provide you with skilled volunteers who donate their time as well as opportunities for future engagement with your organization.

2. Data-Driven Industry Insights

Taking a look at the research behind matching gifts and other forms of corporate philanthropy can make a solid case for why your organization should expand your focus on these strategies. We’ve pulled out a few stats here that clearly illustrate the potential to leverage corporate giving programs for your nonprofit:

$4-7 billion in matching gift funding goes unclaimed each year.

When match-eligible donors do not request a match for their gift, that money (which was already set aside in the businesses’ budgets) goes into a rapidly growing pile of “unclaimed” corporate funding.

Then, these dollars are simply reinvested in the businesses rather than contributed to charitable organizations like yours.

18 million+ individuals work for companies with corporate giving programs.

9 out of 10 businesses, and 65% of Fortune 500 companies, offer matching gifts and other types of corporate giving.

In total, this results in more than 18 million individuals being employed by businesses with employee giving programs. Statistically, it’s likely that many of your existing donors are included in this number as well.

Corporations donated more than $26 billion to nonprofits in 2019.

And this number continues to grow! In fact, the $26 billion donated to nonprofits in 2019 is up more than 13% from the year before. While corporate giving in 2020 saw a slight decrease, numbers are expected to rise again throughout the remainder of 2021 and into 2022.

39% of companies plan to expand their workplace giving programs.

Studies show that corporate giving (along with other types of CSR) offer critical benefits to businesses including increased employee engagement and improved reputation among consumers. For these reasons and more, many companies are planning on expanding their existing workplace giving programs.

As a nonprofit looking to maximize this type of corporate funding, it only makes sense that you would aim to expand your own strategies as well.

3. Corporate Philanthropy Best Practices

While you might get a small amount of business dollars with a passive approach to corporate philanthropy, the organizations that reap the most corporate donations are those that follow strategic best practices. Whether you’re getting started with corporate giving for the first time or simply improving an existing plan, these tried-and-true tips can help:

1. Promote corporate giving opportunities to donors.

Though some companies take great effort to engage individuals in their corporate philanthropy efforts, many others are completely unknown even to eligible employees. To increase awareness among donors, nonprofits are often left to pick up the slack in the marketing and promotion departments.

That means having a well-thought-out marketing strategy is critical. Consider the following key avenues for promoting corporate giving opportunities:

  • Online donation forms
  • “Ways to give” pages
  • Dedicated corporate giving pages
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Direct mail

Spreading the word about corporate philanthropy is vital for maximizing revenue collected through the channel. Take matching gifts, for example. Your donors are not likely to request a corporate match for their initial donation if they’re unaware that these programs even exist!

2. Leverage a corporate giving database.

Donors can typically determine if they’re eligible for a company match by contacting their employer’s HR department or searching through their employee policy documents. However, the quickest and easiest way to do so is by leveraging a corporate giving database.

Let’s look at the process involved with using matching gift database software:

  1. An individual donates to your organization.
  2. The individual searches for their employer with your embedded, searchable company database.
  3. The individual is provided with relevant information about their employer’s corporate giving programs, including matching gift and volunteer grant eligibility guidelines.
  4. The individual is prompted to submit a match request with their employer.
  5. The employer reviews the match request and asks your organization to confirm the initial donation.
  6. The employer submits their matching donation to your nonprofit.

matching gifts software

If you’re looking to take things even further, a matching gifts automation tool can help you make the most of corporate giving without having to dedicate a ton of time and resources to it. Automating the donor outreach process can help you drive matching gift revenue by screening donors for match eligibility based on their email domain or employer, then triggering a relevant follow-up email based on the information collected. This saves your fundraising team time to devote to your highest value donors and potential match opportunities⁠—meaning more dollars for you!

3. Follow up and thank donors for their participation.

Thanking your donors is a best practice at any time, but expanding your donor appreciation efforts following participation in corporate giving is critical. Here are a few best practices for effectively communicating your gratitude:

  • Thank your donors for their initial donation.
  • Encourage them to request a donation match in your follow-up if they haven’t already done so.
  • Show additional appreciation at every step in the matching gift process⁠—including when they indicate that they’ve requested a match as well as when your organization receives the matched donation.

Even though the individual donor is not the one making the matching gift, it’s a good idea to thank them thoroughly for their participation. After all, you wouldn’t be getting the bonus donation without their initial generosity and follow-up!

Making the most of corporate philanthropy will bring your organization’s fundraising to the next level. In doing so, you can forge long-term relationships with donors and businesses and increase revenue for your cause. Good luck!