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Corporate giving programs are an increasingly central part of social impact efforts by businesses across the world. Employees want to give back, and companies are making that ever easier with tools like automatic payroll deductions, matching gifts and crowdfunding campaigns. Modern approaches have made donating more convenient for employees, which spurs greater spikes in overall giving.

But what works best for nonprofits? We asked leaders at several top nonprofits – International Medical Corps, Feeding America, Save the Children, UNICEF and America’s Charities to list the top three things that they wish donors knew about how they could be more impactful with getting more money to nonprofits faster. Here’s what we heard:

  1. Year-round donations, e.g., payroll deduction or monthly giving, are desired and provide consistent support.
  2. Providing complete donor contact data is key to relationship building and stewardship.
  3. Giving via a platform that is user-friendly for both donor and nonprofit

Let’s be clear: how you give matters.

The most direct and cost-efficient route that donations take from giver to recipient is the goal. “No matter how you donate, nonprofits always incur a cost for processing donations, recording donor information, preparing tax receipts, and other administrative costs,” said Jim Starr, President and CEO, America’s Charities. “But some donation methods cost nonprofits more than others.”

Starr notes that workplace giving sometimes costs as low as 4% of the donation, often covered by companies so that 100% of an employee’s donation goes to charity, making it one of the most cost-efficient ways to support nonprofits. On top of that, companies often offer to match employee donations, allowing donors to double the charity’s impact. Compare that to credit card, PayPal, and check donations, which usually cost between 15-30% of a donation, or gifts made through a charity’s fundraising event, which costs nearly 50% (!)

The form of your gift matters, too.

Most nonprofits prefer an unrestricted donation that empowers them to direct funds where they’re needed most.

“Unrestricted funds means we will have the ability to respond quickly when disasters strike; meet new needs in chaotic environments; or innovate programs to meet the local context,” says Erica L. Tavares, Senior Director, Institutional Advancement, International Medical Corps. “Unrestricted funds also allow us to leverage larger, institutional funding that often requires a match – and in fact, for every unrestricted dollar International Medical Corps receives, we can unlock, on average, $30 in funding and donated medicines and supplies.”

The timing of your donation also matters.

But ultimately, giving in any capacity – and giving consistently – is the name of the game.

“Whether donations arrive by check, electronic fund transfer or gifts of stock, the format is less important than the consistent support from our donor partners,” says Ashby Brown, Manager, Employee Engagement at Save the Children. “Recurring donations (rather than one-time gifts) are particularly helpful because it means we can focus our efforts providing assistance where it is needed most around the world, rather than spending time on fundraising.

Many nonprofits must wait until the end of year or for episodic events to receive a large share of their donations. But “workplace giving provides reliable funding year-round,” says Starr. “This allows charities to plan how to use donors’ gifts more strategically and make a stronger impact.”

Teresa Gruber, Manager of Employee Engagement, at Feeding America agrees that timeliness of receiving donations makes a difference. “For Feeding America, having the donations right away mean that we have funds to support food donations and program implementation at our network of food banks. We are able to help people more quickly.”

Recurring donations also allows for a deeper relationship with a nonprofit that allows givers to be tuned in to impact. “It means donors will respond quickly with us when a disaster does strike, so that our doctors and nurses have the resources and tools they need to save lives when they arrive on the frontlines,” says Tavares.

Tavares believes that a strong relationship with donors helps them understand how International Medical Corps works and how that work makes an impact on survivors of disasters and underserved communities worldwide. “When donors give to International Medical Corps, they are making an investment in the success of our programs. We believe in turn, they deserve clear, concise communications about what their donations, pooled with other funds, have accomplished.

Gruber agrees that the ease of pulling information from online platforms and having access to donor data can help connect donors to impact. “We want to share communications with the donor and steward them so they know how their investment is making a difference in assisting those who struggle with hunger,” says Gruber.

Open up all methods for giving

No matter how you get there, nonprofits really want one thing from your giving program: your money. The sooner they have it, the faster they can get to impact.

The concerns and priorities of nonprofits when it comes to giving is why Causecast has made every form of giving accessible and instant for the companies it serves through its online giving and volunteer platform. We offer more frequent processing options, don’t make nonprofits have to register with our system, have no hidden fees, and we write checks for nonprofits on behalf of companies so that nonprofits don’t have to wait to receive funds.

Ultimately, when managing a giving program, you need to ensure that your donor dollars get where they need to go as fast and as regularly as possible so that you can have more impact in less time. Flexibility, speed and consistency are what helps nonprofits most and best supports them to serve their missions.