Crafting a Corporate Giving Plan: 4 Best Practices for 2020
As a nonprofit development officer, you may feel like you aren’t doing enough, no matter how many current and potential supporters you reach out to each day.
Feeling this way is normal. Every nonprofit will experience its own unique bumps in the road. This is especially evident now, in light of the global pandemic impacting every corner of society. During times like this, making the most of your donor community is more crucial than ever.
Don’t give up in light of the fundraising hurdles presented by COVID-19 and the ongoing economic downfall that accompanies it. Your nonprofit’s cause is essential, and it’s your job to continue persevering through adversity to further it.
If you’re reading this article to overcome fundraising challenges for your nonprofit, then it’s time for you to take advantage of one of the most underutilized fundraising strategies: corporate philanthropy.
Zeroing in on the stewardship of individual donors may be disheartening during the crisis. You may receive far more negative responses than enthusiastic support. This is why corporate philanthropy is so crucial during the pandemic. By pursuing corporate gifts and individual donor relationships in tandem, your fundraising strategy will be more effective during times of strife.
Through this guide, we’re going to explore the necessity of crafting a corporate giving strategy during COVID-19. Then, we’ll walk through four steps to create your strategy. This will be done through the following points:
- Understanding matching gifts and COVID-19
- Knowing best practices to craft a corporate giving strategy
- Equip your nonprofit with the right matching-gift database
- Encourage donors to investigate corporate philanthropy
- Store donor data in your CRM
- Seek corporate sponsors and partnerships
Without further ado, let’s dive into the significance of matching gifts during the current global pandemic.
Understanding Matching Gifts and COVID-19
As we’re now a few months into the pandemic’s thrall, you’ve likely read multiple “best practices” and/or “top strategies” articles instructing your organization on how to overcome the fundraising challenges presented by COVID-19. While these articles are well-intentioned and likely contain a plethora of valuable tips, there’s no guarantee that simply optimizing operations will have a tangible impact on your fundraising efforts.
Want to know what could have a tangible, predictable and directly measurable impact on your fundraising efforts during the crisis? Matching gifts.
We know this because matching gifts are a way to get a larger donation out of the gifts that donors have already made in 2020, without that donor giving any more for you to do so. Here’s why we can say that with such confidence:
- Anywhere from $4 billion to $7 billion in matching-gift donations go unclaimed every year.
- Over half of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gift programs.
- Many companies will match donations on a 1:1, 2:1 or even 3:1 ratio.
Most importantly is the fact that many companies are increasing their matching gift programs as a response to the pandemic. Check out this guide to matching gifts during COVID-19 for a few examples.
Understand that companies with corporate social responsibility programs are a valuable resource for your organization, and it’s up to you to make the most of these programs. Creating a strong corporate giving strategy during this crisis empowers you to do so.
4 Best Practices to Craft a Corporate Giving Strategy
Now that we’ve explored the benefits of matching gifts during COVID-19, let’s break down a few best practices when it comes to creating your strategy.
Equip Your Nonprofit With the Right Matching-Gift Database
To discuss matching gift databases, let’s first explore the matching-gift process. Generally, the road to a matched gift is as follows:
- A donor submits a donation to your nonprofit.
- The donor determines whether their donation is match-eligible.
- The donor submits appropriate forms to their company.
- The employer makes a matching donation to your nonprofit.
By and far, the biggest challenge to building a corporate matching-gift program is simply discovering matching-gift opportunities. Many of your donors (and perhaps, even your nonprofit’s staff) are unaware that these programs exist. How do you overcome that? It’s simple: invest in a strong matching-gift database.
This process won’t be initiated if a donor is unaware that their employer offers a matching-gift program — let alone the requirements for securing a matched gift. That’s where a matching-gift database enters the equation.
Did you know that, according to this guide, using multiple approaches to identify match-eligible donors results in the identification of 77% more match-eligible gifts? A matching-gift database is one of these crucial approaches.
This database will help donors determine whether or not their employer has a matching gift program immediately upon donation. Further, it will provide them with all the needed information to proceed. When investing in matching-gift software, ensure it will:
- Provide easy access to industry-leading data. This database should have the most up-to-date information on companies’ matching-gift programs. Ensure you’re investing in a solution that’s regularly updated.
- Be mobile-friendly. Your donors should be able to access this database using their mobile phone without encountering formatting challenges. We know that gifts are increasingly made using mobile devices, and it’s crucial that you don’t deter any match eligible donors due to an unresponsive database.
- Integrate with your existing software tools. When a database can easily integrate with your fundraising platform, CRM and any other software tools, your various systems can inform one another. Further, it’s significantly easier for a donor to search their eligibility with a form that’s directly available on your donation page.
- Provide donors with matching-gift resources. Ensure that the matching-gift process is as seamless as it is effortless by working with a matching-gift database that has accessible matching-gift information. When donors can easily access the forms they need to submit, they’ll be significantly more likely to do so!
Whether during a crisis or normal operations, it’s important to make the most of each and every donation that comes your way. A strong matching-gift database empowers you to do so in the most effective way possible.
Encourage Donors to Investigate Corporate Philanthropy
Matching-gift databases are easy-to-use and essentially provide donors with everything they need to begin the match process. So, why aren’t these donors doing so?
The problem, once again, is simple: not enough people know what corporate philanthropy is, how to access it or where to begin researching either of those points. Luckily, the solution is simple, too.
Simply educate your donors about the various types of corporate philanthropy programs, and the steps they can take to maximize their impact on your cause.
There are two main types of corporate giving programs that your donors may be able to access: matching gifts and volunteer grants. We’ve already covered the first.
Regarding volunteer grants, these programs are very similar to matching-gift programs — however, financial matches are made corresponding to volunteer hours given, rather than financial amounts donated. This could be especially valuable for donors who may have more time on their hands to give during the crisis, rather than financial resources.
Now that you have a general understanding of the key types of corporate philanthropy programs, you can spread the word far-and-wide across your donor base. A few strategies to do so are:
- Providing educational information and easy access to your matching-gift database directly on your website. Ensure your database provides information on matching gifts and volunteer grants, so donors can research both in one place.
- Embed your matching-gift database directly on your donation form to encourage donors to research their eligibility while in the process of giving.
- Include information about matching gifts in your donation solicitations. For more information, check out these matching-gift letter templates via Fundraising Letters.
We know that one in three donors say that they would give a larger gift if a matching-gift program was available and applied to their donation. You want to clearly articulate the opportunities for a donor to maximize their impact across many channels.
Store Donor Data in Your CRM
Many discussions around matching gifts focus on future donations, as in securing a match for future gifts to your organization. However, we’d encourage you to make the most of this time of fewer donations to follow up with those donors that have already given.
Dive into your nonprofit’s CRM system to discover opportunities for matched gifts for donations you’ve already received. There are a number of ways you can discover matching gifts using information already in your database. Specifically, sift through:
- Email addresses: Email screening can easily provide leads as to who is eligible for match-donations. This can increase total revenue for a nonprofit by 1%.
- Employment/Profession: You can filter by top corporations with known matching-gift programs to see which of your donors you should target with matching-gift opportunities.
Use this information to reach out to past donors with matching-gift information. We know that there is a 53% open rate for matching-gift reminders that are sent within 24 hours of the initial donation — so the faster you can discover these opportunities, the better!
Bonus! Explore this blog post for a variety of ways that you can use the data in your nonprofit’s CRM to improve fundraising operations.
Seek Corporate Sponsors and Partnerships
We know that many corporations already understand the value of offering a matching-gift program, but it doesn’t hurt to remind them that corporate philanthropy is in their best interest.
A strong relationship between a nonprofit organization and a corporation is good for both parties. On the nonprofit side, these organizations benefit from the monetary contributions from a major corporation. On the business side, these companies gain positive public sentiment and even improved employee retention.
With this in mind, you should intentionally reach out to potential corporate sponsors to partner with your nonprofit organization. For example, you could reach out to:
- Philanthropically-active corporations, appealing to them to make direct donations to your nonprofit.
- Corporations with matching-gift programs that have employees who are giving to your organization in high amounts, offering to partner together to promote their matching-gift opportunities.
- Corporations that have employees who are giving to your organization, but perhaps can’t access matching-gift programs yet. Encourage these companies to incorporate a corporate philanthropy program in their employee offerings.
Corporations that give back to their communities — especially during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic — are going to be better-positioned post-crisis than those that aren’t. Teaming up with a corporate sponsor will enable that entity to maximize its power for good while mutually generating revenue. These benefits can’t be overlooked.
Many nonprofits are facing fundraising challenges as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’d guess that your organization falls into that category.
Offering a matching-gift program can increase fundraising revenue without your donors giving any more out of their own pockets during the pandemic. With these best practices, you’ll be off to a great start.
Adam Weinger is president of Double the Donation, an organization that helps nonprofit organizations and schools increase fundraising from corporate matching gift and employee volunteer grant programs.