This blog originally appeared in Business Fights Poverty.
In an era of corporate scandals, lost profits and the public’s declining trust, businesses are acutely sensitive to their brand reputation. That’s why corporate social responsibility has become a mandatory concern for every company, with businesses increasingly prioritizing support of nonprofits as a way to maintain a positive public image.
The anti-big business climate may be treacherous for large companies, but it offers nonprofits a valuable opportunity to leverage corporate relationships. Suddenly, big business can be the answer to nonprofit prayers when it comes to fundraising events, volunteers and long-term sustainability.
If you’re a nonprofit, here are three fundraising ideas you can’t afford to overlook:
1. Participate in workplace giving programs. In the past, corporations supported charities that were handpicked by company management, without any employee input. No more. These days, businesses understand that employees are their best brand ambassadors, and the more that employees are involved in the community, the better. Since employees are demanding a voice in shaping their company’s philanthropy, this turns out to be a win-win situation.
That’s why smart companies use volunteer and giving platforms with built-in donation processing that enable employees to directly support nonprofits, sometimes facilitated through automatic payroll deductions. Companies with workplace giving programs often include a matching gift policy, underscoring the degree to which the company supports causes their employees care about, which helps increase employee engagement. When nonprofits make themselves available to these sorts of platforms (ideally through donation widgets, a type of fundraising software), the effect can be like an instant fundraiser, with corporate support flowing in through multiple channels.
2. Be smart with corporate volunteers. Increasingly, companies are realizing the value of corporate volunteerism, especially if they want to attract and retain younger employees. Millennials tend to believe that participating in social causes is essential and this younger generation of employees are often attracted to companies that provide skills-based volunteering opportunities. Bottom line: it’s clear that corporate America is bursting with talented workers ready to volunteer their time to help nonprofits.
Today, nine out of ten nonprofits recognize that volunteers are essential to the success of their organization, and 77% of nonprofits believe in the benefits of corporate volunteers. However, just 62% actually work with corporate volunteers and only 12% of nonprofits match their volunteer work with the skills of the volunteer. So make sure you are providing the best benefits of volunteering if you want to get the maximum benefit from your volunteers. In order to engage and build an effective relationship with their corporate volunteers, nonprofits must be conscientious about aligning the interests and talents of their volunteers with their own organizational needs.
3. Prioritize sustainability planning. Sustainability planning is part of a nonprofit’s long-term strategy for fundraising revenue projections, administration of the organizational structure and development and management of its resources. A key element of a nonprofit’s sustainability are its volunteers and their relationship to the organization and its mission. When a volunteer feels connected to a nonprofit, they’re more likely to also become a donor, recruiter and ambassador. Corporate alliances can deliver a multitude of volunteers and relationships, and as their connection to a nonprofit grows, so does the number of potential donors and volunteers. Therefore, as a nonprofit forges relationships with corporate volunteers, a plan is needed for how to nurture and sustain the partnership so that it can grow into a long term source of financial and volunteer support.
Fundraising is always a challenge, no matter what the economic climate, but the time has never been riper for nonprofits to lean on big business as a conduit to new and ongoing support.
To get donations and volunteers from corporate sponsors, get a free account at Causecast For Nonprofits