Leveraging workplace philanthropy to benefit your nonprofit

WindowA 2014 study from America’s Charities estimated American employees donated $4 billion dollars to charities last year through workplace giving programs. That’s an incredibly inspiring number, and a major increase from $3 billion in 2012!

At FrontStream we’re proud to have helped businesses distribute over $220 million dollars in employee contributions to charities in 2013. It’s rewarding to be able to match a corporation with a cause that meets that company’s values, mission and CSR objectives.

We often field questions from charities and NPOs that would like to explore the potential of workplace fundraising. Have you ever asked yourself: “How do we get started?” or “How can we reach out to companies who don’t know about our work?”

Our CSR & NPO Services team sat down with our friends in development at some of the great nonprofits in the D.C. area to answer those very questions.

Here’s three suggestions to help you leverage the power of workplace philanthropy.

  1. Dive into your own database: Where do your donors, volunteers, and supporters work? If you don’t know, consider asking whenever you collect data online, through direct mail responses, or at events. If you notice that many donors are associated to one company you will be armed with the information you need to approach that business about potential sponsorships, creating a workplace campaign, or offering matching dollars as a show of support for their employees’ generosity.
  2. Research, research, research: Take the time to research the volunteering, giving, and matching policies of the large and medium-sized companies operating in your region. Pay special attention to those represented on your board and in your pool of major donors. Many companies have special sections on their websites about their CSR policies and projects. Be sure to review corporate newsletters and annual reports for information about the types of causes the businesses in your community like to support. You might find you have interests in common!
  3. Tell the world:  It’s not always easy to figure out a company’s matching policies. Don’t forget to remind your donors to check with their employers or HR departments. Consider creating content on your website about matching opportunities and include “Does your company match gifts?” in your donation “thank you” emails and letters. Ensure you include information about employee giving programs in your organization’s outreach materials.

Messay Derebe, a Carnegie Mellon University graduate student and nonprofit professional, agrees: “I feel like there is no reason not to do this. Someone who is willing to write you a check is willing to get a corporate match for you! But even if people are aware that match opportunities exist where they work, you may have to remind them and make the mental connection for them. This could be as simple as adding a line that asks them to check a box if their company matches donations so you can follow up with them.”

We know that workplace philanthropy is still a relatively new and growing subset of charitable giving. It’s exciting to see corporations and charities growing together!

At FrontStream we have a variety of workplace giving products to help employers make a meaningful impact in their communities. Learn how our Gift Matching programs are designed to help companies exceed their philanthropic goals.

Do you have some ideas of your own to encourage employee giving? Share them with us in the comments!

Author: Brandolon Barnett is an Operations Supervisor at FrontStream, focused on corporate social responsibility and nonprofit services. Brandolon has an MA in International Studies from the University of London SOAS. His work aids clients in corporate responsibility departments understand their giving program metrics and identify nonprofit partners.

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