Promoting Corporate Philanthropy During Critical Times

So far, this year is shaping up to be quite an unpredictable one, with economic strain affecting every industry across the board. However, nonprofit organizations may be hit harder than most. After all, nonprofits rely on generous donations from their supporters to fund daily operations and mission-based projects.

In a time like this, many nonprofits may start to see donations dwindling and worry about how to keep their organizations up and running in the midst of a pandemic. As a nonprofit professional, this is something that’s almost certainly been on your mind amid the latest current events.

Here at Double the Donation, we specialize in helping nonprofits maximize the benefits of corporate giving programs. Leveraging corporate gifts is an excellent fundraising strategy at all times, but it can be especially impactful during a time of economic uncertainty.

If your nonprofit has yet to explore corporate philanthropy and the benefits it can offer your organization, now is the perfect time to do so. Be sure to follow these 5 steps as a basis for your nonprofit’s corporate giving fundraising plan:

  1. Stay up-to-date with the news.
  2. Improve your marketing and communications.
  3. Inform your supporters about matching gifts.
  4. Relate to the donor’s current situation.
  5. Explore volunteer grant opportunities.

Each of these steps will bring you closer to running a successful, financially stable organization— even in the midst of disruption. Ready to dive deeper into each one? Let’s get started.

1. Stay up-to-date with the news.

Keeping up with current events is always crucial in the nonprofit industry, but now more than ever. Staying accurately informed is vital, both for your own sake and for your supporters and constituents. This is important for two main reasons:

  • You don’t want to spread misinformation. Sharing false information, even if you believe it to be true at the time, can be one of the most damaging things you could do. There are so many news outlets circulating vastly different stories that it may be hard to understand what’s happening in the world around us. Don’t let your nonprofit become one more source of confusion but do join the conversation in meaningful ways, speaking to your own specific perspective.
  • You don’t want to appear tone deaf. On the other hand, some organizations may choose to remain silent amidst the chaos, potentially to avoid sharing inaccurate information. However, this strategy can be just as damaging by inadvertently communicating to your supporters that you’re out of touch with reality and current events. The pandemic and its impacts are being felt by everyone, including your constituents, so you need to acknowledge it genuinely.

If your constituents have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, whether that be medically or financially, it can be even more essential that you stay up-to-date with current happenings. Despite the logistical challenges your organization may currently face, your community needs you now more than ever.

Do thorough research before making any sort of public statement, but remember that it is important that your network understands you’re all in this together.

You’ll need a solid understanding of the current situation for your constituents and community—  and to be in active communication with them— in order to begin taping into corporate philanthropy down the line.

2. Improve your marketing and communications.

In a time like this, it’s crucial that you maximize the effects of your marketing and communication efforts. Once you’ve decided how to address the epidemic, it’s important that you have the right tools and strategies in place to effectively communicate that with your audience.

One way to do so is by implementing a strategic digital plan for your nonprofit. Consider these 4 crucial tips for better donor communication:

  • Set specific goals. It’s important that you put specific goals in place, especially those that are S.M.A.R.T.— specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. This can help define your organization’s key objectives (fundraising, awareness, corporate philanthropy, etc.) and ensure that your whole team stays on track.
  • Target a specific audience. Your nonprofit network likely contains a combination of donors, volunteers, staff, and other supporters. Even within the category of donors, they can be segmented into first-time, repeat, or lapsed— each of which should impact the way you relate to each individual.
  • Use the best tools. You may think that, especially in a time of financial distress, you should save funds by taking on marketing and communication processes manually. While that may save initial funding, it can cost exponentially in time and resources. Therefore, it’s better to invest in automated marketing tools and save time and money down the line.
  • Analyze your results. It’s important to compare your results with objectives and see in which areas you found successes and which areas offered room for improvement. Collecting and analyzing metrics like open rate, conversion rate, bounce rate, and more can allow you to better understand how your messages are reaching (or not reaching) your intended consumer.

For more detailed information, check out DNL OmniMedia’s guide to crafting your nonprofit digital strategy. Having an effective digital marketing plan in place is essential for interacting with your supporters and constituents, especially in a time of uncertainty.

3. Inform your supporters about matching gifts.

Matching gifts are one form of corporate philanthropy, in which a donor’s employer agrees to financially match a gift made to a charitable organization. Thousands of employers take part in these matching gift programs, and they can be a great way to boost fundraising revenue— even when donors may not have a lot to spare.

The problem, however, is that the vast majority of donors are completely unaware of their eligibility for matching gifts. That means that, according to Double the Donation, an estimated $4-7 billion in dedicated matching gift revenue is left on the table each year.

With a comprehensive, up-to-date matching gift program database, donors simply enter the name of their employer and can immediately see the qualifications for their company’s corporate giving program.

Marketing matching gifts is essential for successfully leveraging corporate philanthropy. So how can you inform your generous donors of this opportunity to double their gifts?

Here are a few examples:

  • Educate followers through social media.
  • Embed a matching gifts database in your website.
  • Inform within your donation page.
  • Remind on your confirmation page and follow-up message.
  • Send out matching gift request letters or emails.

You can find some great examples of matching gift letters here— just download and customize to fit your donor base.

4. Relate to the donor’s current situation.

Going back to keeping up with current events and the importance of not appearing tone deaf, it’s essential that you relate to each donor in the place where they currently are. Some of your donors may have lost their jobs, are unsure of their ability to pay bills, or may even be recovering from COVID-19 themselves.

It can be difficult to harness the desire to give in a global crisis like this one, but it’s important that you do so by effectively relating to your donors. That’s why it’s so crucial that you recognize the situation for what it is, and avoid trying to downplay it for funding.

Instead, try emphasizing the difference between giving and buying— such as the increased emotional reward that comes with the former. Focus on the impact each donor can make on their community when they choose to give to your organization.

One great way to do this is by demonstrating the ways that your organization is already getting involved with the crisis response, whether that be through relief aid, medical supplies, or another facet. Position your organization’s projects as investments in the community’s recovery and health, and more donors will likely feel inclined to lend their support than if you solicit general funds in a very typical way.

5. Explore volunteer grant opportunities.

Volunteer grant programs share many similarities with matching gifts, but differ in key fundamental ways. Both types of programs involve getting one’s employer to make a financial contribution in response to an employee’s support of a nonprofit organization. While matching gifts are in response to financial gifts, volunteer grants are in response to an employee’s gift of time and labor.

However, many volunteer opportunities have been temporarily suspended due to the spread of the coronavirus. Still, consider these three ways to employ volunteer grants during a crisis:

  • Encourage previous volunteers to submit grant requests. Many employers accept volunteer grant requests for months after a volunteer gets involved. For this reason, you may be able to reach out to previous volunteers and encourage them to submit a request for a volunteer grant. This way, you can still get the boosted funding from before the pandemic began.
  • Allow willing volunteers to get involved. Some organizations are still looking for volunteers to help out during this difficult time. If you’re seeking volunteers to distribute supplies, offer medical assistance, or donate food, you may be able to find local volunteers eager to help out during a trying time.
  • Seek virtual volunteers in a pandemic. Other volunteers and/or organizations may not be comfortable with in-person volunteering events, for reasons of both volunteer and constituent safety. In this case, you can search for willing volunteers with basic tech skills to help you as you transition your organization into an online entity. Stay on the lookout for any supporters who may be able to offer in-kind donations of their digital services and know-how, like digital marketing, graphic design, and more.

Each employer offers unique eligibility criteria unique to their giving program, so it’s important that your supporters are able to easily find these answers— with a volunteer grant database embedded on your website.

Just as you may be in a difficult financial situation at the moment, it’s important to recognize that many of your nonprofit’s supporters are in the same boat. By leveraging corporate philanthropy in your fundraising plan, you can better relate to your donors, demonstrate a larger impact for each gift, and make the most of every resource you have. Best of luck!