Corporate Philanthropy: Crash Course for Nonprofit Boards

This post was contributed by Double the Donation.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, nonprofits and for-profits alike have drastically shifted the way they operate. With the unexpected disruptions, nonprofits of all sizes are seeking innovative ways to diversify their funding sources. Often, these changes are best found in forging new partnerships.

Especially now, corporate philanthropy is a critical tool for nonprofits, and specifically nonprofit boards, to leverage for a variety of reasons.

Amidst today’s changing circumstances, many businesses are prioritizing corporate philanthropy since they recognize its many benefits.

Your nonprofit’s board of directors is the starting point for driving real change in your nonprofit. Learning to embrace and utilize corporate philanthropy has been a tried-and-true strategy for many successful nonprofits, and you want your nonprofit to be at the forefront of those key benefits, too.

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High-powered boards are always looking for new ways to grow their organizations, and corporate philanthropy is a major opportunity that shouldn’t be neglected. In this crash course, we’ll answer these questions:

During times of disruption, finding new tactics to generate revenue and create partnerships is always a worthwhile activity. If your nonprofit hasn’t yet begun exploring corporate philanthropy, it’s time for your board to take the lead! Let’s get started.

Let's dive into the concept of corporate philanthropy.

What is corporate philanthropy?

Corporate philanthropy involves the actions a corporation or business takes to better the wellbeing of others and show their commitment to improving their communities.

Often part of broader corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, corporate giving programs most commonly include some type of gift or donation, whether in funds or volunteered time. Corporate giving programs are intended to strengthen businesses ’ ties with their communities by supporting nonprofit work that relates to their own missions or interests.

In short, nonprofits get the valuable funds they need from generous donors, in this case corporations looking to give back.

Corporate philanthropy programs are the funnel through which charitable donations flow from businesses. There are multiple forms of corporate philanthropy, including:

  • Matching gifts
  • Volunteer grants
  • One-time grants
  • In-kind donations
  • Long-term sponsorships
  • Event or campaign sponsorships

Out of all of these options, matching gifts are the most underutilized type of corporate philanthropy programs. Matching gifts can quickly double the impact of your nonprofit’s incoming charitable donations, so it’s critical to understand and utilize them!

So what exactly is a matching gift? They’re pretty simple. A matching gift is a form of corporate philanthropy in which an employer “matches” the donations that their employees make to eligible nonprofit organizations. These matches are typically at a dollar-for-dollar ratio, but some generous companies will match at an even higher rate.

With their donation (and their impact on your nonprofit) doubled, you’d think donors would jump at the opportunity, but the reality is most donors don’t realize their gift is eligible for a match! In addition, many organizations are also unaware of this missed opportunity. When nonprofits effectively promote matching gifts and donors maximize their gifts’ potential, everyone wins. You can learn more about matching gifts in this guide for nonprofits.

The events of 2020 have altered the corporate philanthropy landscape, and it's important for nonprofits to understand exactly how it's changed.

What is the state of corporate philanthropy?

So what does corporate philanthropy look like today? We’ve got good news. Due to recent events, many companies have increased their matching gift rates in support of relief work and charitable missions.

This means companies are still eager to help address the unprecedented challenges in their communities, and there are still plenty of funds available for matching gifts despite economic turbulence. Curious about how companies are practically implementing more matching gift efforts? Check out Double the Donation’s list of companies actively expanding their matching gift programs amid COVID-19.

There are a few core reasons why corporate philanthropy is still a priority for many businesses:

  1. With the ever-changing circumstances following the pandemic, corporate social responsibility is more valuable than ever for many companies. Consumers are looking to companies to see how they’re handling the pandemic, and CSR helps strengthen a company’s image to customers. A strong and active CSR program shows consumers that a company cares about their community and is taking steps to help those in need.
  2. The surge in remote work we’ve seen recently has created new challenges for companies in keeping their employees engaged. However, corporate philanthropy programs are a fairly easy way for companies to introduce new benefits to their employees. Just as your own nonprofit’s board has likely gone virtual, your prospective donors are also adjusting to a new online work environment. In a working world that is now more virtual than ever, engaging content for a nonprofit board is a must have.

The workplace has changed and will continue to change as time goes on. But as the corporate world shifts, there are new opportunities for nonprofits to generate support and forge new partnerships.

For nonprofit leaders and board members, embracing these changes is crucial for success. It’s important to encourage your team to do more than just meet goals. For examples on how to accomplish this, check out Boardable’s tips on empowering your nonprofit board. Adapting to the changing world and leveraging opportunities to help those in need is how nonprofits will see the most positive change.

Empower your nonprofit board to tap into corporate philanthropy with these tips.

Why should nonprofit boards tap into corporate philanthropy?

You might be wondering, why does my nonprofit need to embrace corporate philanthropy? We’ve got a few reasons for you to consider exploring these opportunities.

Once you understand the vast benefits your nonprofit could experience, you’ll be ready to pursue your next corporate philanthropy opportunity with excitement for the future.

1. Generate more revenue for your nonprofit.

When it comes down to it, corporate philanthropy generates more revenue for nonprofits. Programs like matching gifts provide a natural boost in overall revenue. The opportunity to double a charitable donation is one that can’t be overlooked.

With more revenue, your nonprofit is better equipped to do what you do best. Plus, diversifying your nonprofit’s fundraising sources is a highly-recommended strategy for stabilizing your operations during any period of economic disruption.

2. Build a more engaged culture for your board.

Corporate philanthropy also offers opportunities for growing the scale and reach of your nonprofit board members’ direct engagement.

For example, your board members likely work for, or have connections with, businesses (both large and small) that offer corporate philanthropy programs. It is vital that you reach out to and connect with those potential partners.

Plus, members’ volunteered service on your board may be eligible for a grant through their employers’ giving programs. These are great opportunities to engage your board members and grow their impact and legacy at your nonprofit.

Just how employee engagement is critical for businesses, nonprofit HR and engagement strategies are important for driving long-term results and success. With increased incoming donations, it’s critical that your organization has successful internal operations, both for employees and board members. Building out a dedicated and capable HR department is a key step in developing a fully functioning nonprofit organization, including your board of directors.

3. Create new connections and partnerships for your organization.

Forging new connections through corporate philanthropy is extremely valuable because these connections can grow over time.

Business connections from board members and matched gifts from donors can grow into structured sponsorships and long-term support from corporate partners when actively pursued. Seeking out these new connections greatly increases the overall value and benefits for your nonprofit organization.

Under such unknown economic circumstances, building connections and relationships for your organization is an incredibly smart move. Planning ahead has become more challenging than ever, so strong corporate partnerships can give you additional stability to rely on as you navigate.

With all of these benefits, corporate philanthropy involvement is a major consideration for any nonprofit board looking to expand and drive success for its organization.

If you’re ready to dive in, there are a variety of ways to get involved and start exploring the world of corporate philanthropy. For long-term results, you’ll need to secure buy-in from both your donor base and your board.

We recommend starting by using a corporate philanthropy database and search tool. When you promote corporate philanthropy and matching gifts to your donors, you want to make the process as seamless as possible. A centralized database makes it easy to ask these donors to search for their eligibility. Overall, utilizing a corporate philanthropy database will simplify the process for your donors and help your team locate more matching gifts.

To begin raising awareness of corporate philanthropy on your board, start with adding an item to your next board meeting agenda. After you’ve done some research on your own, you can present the findings to the board for review and discussion.

You could be on the brink of discovering the next best thing for your nonprofit! The benefits of corporate philanthropy are incredibly valuable, and now is the time to start exploring and discussing the opportunities for your nonprofit organization.

Adam Weinger, president of Double the Donation, wrote this guest author post about corporate philanthropy for nonprofit boards.
Author: Adam Weinger

Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of tools to nonprofits to help them raise more money from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs. Connect with Adam via email or on LinkedIn.