Three Strategies for Nonprofits to Leverage Corporate Giving Models

Many nonprofits claim that two top fundraising priorities are establishing and retaining corporate partnerships and securing recurring giving opportunities. Workplace giving is a solution that can help nonprofits address both of those priorities.

One of the most impactful workplace giving programs is payroll deductions, where the employee specifies the dollar amount or percentage of their paycheck to divert to the nonprofit of their choice. This is usually further amplified by a company match, which can often double or sometimes triple the donation amount a nonprofit receives. These payroll deductions are deducted from each paycheck until the employee halts it or leaves the company. They are often used by the employee as a set-it-and-forget-it strategy, mimicking a sustaining donor.

Workplace giving programs are available to 27 million Americans and generate $5 billion in donations in the United States annually. This includes payroll deductions, dollars for doers, employer-sponsored matching gifts, and more. While that $5 billion is a huge sum, it may come as a surprise that an estimated $3 – $7 billion of company match dollars are left on the table and go un-donated every year.

As The Blackbaud Giving Fund studies workplace giving, we identified three successful corporate giving program models and how nonprofits can engage with companies using each method: targeted, structured, and open approach.

Each approach can benefit nonprofits when they understand how the programs are structured and how to leverage relationships to create mutually beneficial partnerships with the companies that offer workplace-giving programs to employees.

  • A targeted approach is when a company, typically a smaller or regional company, encourages and incentivizes giving and volunteering to a select group of charities. Generally, these programs have high employee participation rates–90% or higher–in the focus area. The top ten nonprofits they donate to receive between 50 and 100% of their support.

When fundraisers know that a company in their area actively pursues social good, they have a prime opportunity to create meaningful, lasting relationships with companies and their employees, especially if your cause aligns with the company’s ESG goals and values. Since this model typically has such a high participation and support rate, it’s a valuable opportunity to create a mutually beneficial partnership with a local company that wants to support local causes that impact their community.

  • The structured approach takes a broad view of the company’s ESG priorities and leverages resources to initiatives and causes that are meaningful to the company. These often large companies publish their overall strategy that includes supporting their employees’ volunteer efforts and donations to specific community causes. Companies using this approach focus on the larger picture outcomes as a result of their investments. Programs that follow this model often have significant employee participation–between 25 – 55% which is strong considering the size of these companies The approach often supports many nonprofits in their communities, and the top ten nonprofits they support receive between 2 and 24% of a company’s monetary support. 

If a fundraiser believes a company is taking a structured approach to giving, they can compare how their nonprofit’s cause aligns with the company’s ESG goals and priorities by accessing the publicly available information, often within the annual report. If the two organizations’ goals and priorities are aligned, fundraisers should connect with the company to establish a relationship. A company-wide volunteer event is a great place to start. This will get employees involved so they can better understand your organization’s impact and how it addresses essential community needs. This is an excellent opportunity for fundraisers to create relationships with volunteers, showcase their efforts’ impact, and encourage them to extend their support into other avenues.

  • A company with an open approach to volunteering and giving is usually a larger corporation with offices or operations in several locations. They typically have company matching programs and volunteering incentives but don’t necessarily prioritize a specific cause or sustainable development goal (SDG). The company wants to give back and wants employees to give back, but don’t have set goals around the types of nonprofits they assist. Generally, about 20 – 55% of their employees participate in giving or volunteering to a nonprofit of their choice. Since the employees typically choose the cause and nonprofit they support, these companies can donate to thousands of nonprofits, and the top 10 nonprofits they donate to receive between 2 and 27% of their total support.

If a fundraiser knows a large company has operations in their area, and their published information points to an open approach, it’s important that the nonprofit is visible to employees who want to donate to nonprofits. Signing up for and keeping a robust and active profile on workplace-giving sites like NPOconnect can help employees find and select your organization to support through the tools available in their CSR program. If fundraisers identify through their platforms that groups of employees are regularly donating to their nonprofit, they can work to deepen their relationships with the employees by creating stewardship programs that may involve volunteer opportunities. The idea is to be more visible to these employees so they become more engaged with your organization.

When fundraisers understand how the companies in their area operate and have an idea of their giving models, it can help them identify the best strategy for connecting with purpose-driven companies and become an integral part of their giving programs.


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