Generosity, as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the quality or fact of being liberal in giving. With nearly $300 billion given to non-profit organizations each year, Americans are certainly a generous group.
According to Giving USA, a foundation that has tracked charitable giving since 1957, Americans donated $298.42 billion to non-profit organizations in 2011. Of that amount, $14.55 billion – five percent of the total – was provided by corporations. The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy estimates 94 percent of those corporations offered donations through corporate matching programs.
Corporate donation matching programs make those contributions to society in the literal sense. These programs encourage and support charitable giving by matching employee donations in some capacity, either dollar-to-dollar, as a specified percentage, or sometimes up to quadruple the original donation. A number of businesses also choose specific focus areas, such as education or healthcare, to support. Steps to participate vary among employers, but for the most part, donors need only report their donation to the company through its specified channels.Consider for a moment the words of Hewlett-Packard co-founder David Packard: “A group of people get together and exist as an institution we call a company so they are able to accomplish something collectively that they could not accomplish separately. They make a contribution to society, a phrase which sounds trite but is fundamental.”
Reasons For Donation Matching Programs
Why do companies offer such programs? Despite the obvious monetary contributions to benefit society, corporations are not blind to the goodwill these programs create in regards to employee recruitment and retention. Study after study shows high levels of employee engagement are correlated with low rates of employee turnover, which in turn results in reduced costs for employers.
The goodwill extended to the community benefits corporations as well. Consumers are more likely to support businesses that give back to the community that supports it or contributes to the greater good of society in some way. As such, social responsibility initiatives such as donation matches are an integral component of business models today.
The good news for non-profit organizations is the money left on the table each year is more so a function of lack of awareness than a lack of generosity among employees. So just how can non-profits claim their slice of the pie? Better yet, how can they grow the amounts corporations give each year beyond the standard for to six percent?Despite the overwhelming majority of companies offering these programs, corporate donations in recent years have remained relatively flat. Over the past 40 years, corporate donations have accounted for just four to six percent of total charitable donations each year. Furthermore, a good portion of the money set aside for corporate matching purposes is never put to use. Statistics show up to $10 billion in workplace funds are left untouched at the end of each year.
Non-profit organizations with goals in line with the priorities of a corporation are better positioned to develop ongoing relationships with corporations and employees. Present a case for giving to your organization by selling a company on how the organization’s vision and programs are in line with the business’s mission and objectives. Shared ideals allow the organization to demonstrate how the positive impact of its programs has directly benefitted the business.
Business decisions are data-driven, so use case studies to show businesses how your organization has made a positive impact on the community. Demonstrate past success to show corporations how they can make an impact with your non-profit organization. Perhaps the organization has provided on-the-job training to a potential employee pool or met the needs of employees who experienced hardships outside the workplace.
Words carry more weight when accompanied by a tangible reminder of the good the organization is doing. Statistics that break down dollars spent are more impactful when accompanied by pictures that show the group’s work. Share a before and after shot of a beautification project or present a slide show of homeless individuals enjoying a warm meal and shelter.
The key to success lies is doing more than informing a corporation of your non-profit organization. Dale Carnegie once said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” Give a corporation the opportunity to get to know your organization, but have the courtesy to get to know them too.
Get to Know Your Donors
Donors cannot begin to tap into their employer’s matching programs if they are not aware the programs exist. Though it is ultimately the responsibility of the HR department to inform employees of donation matching programs available through the corporation, non-profit organizations can take also take part in spreading the word.
Chances are your organization uses several social media platforms to get the word out about fundraising campaigns. LinkedIn is particularly useful for building contacts between an organization, corporations and donors. Simply look for shared connections between an organization contact and donors who could make an introduction to a targeted corporation.
Additionally, leverage communication tools available through social media to educate donors on the availability of corporate matching programs within the community. Encourage donors to ask their HR departments about these opportunities, and publish a list of local businesses with matching programs on the organization’s website.
When donors make contributions, ask that they provide their place of employment. This will allow a representative within the organization to follow-up with the corporation about matching donations.
When a matching donation is received, promptly thank both the individual donor and the corporation. It is also wise to use periodic communications to keep both parties informed of the results of programs and initiatives.
For those donors who work for an employer without such a program, offer to collaborate on putting such a program in place. Provide the donor with promotional materials or reach out to a company contact on behalf of a donor.
Keep in mind, the overall goal is to build partnerships in addition to becoming an ongoing recipient of a corporation’s generosity. This liberal giving will enable non-profit organizations to continue their mission for years to come.