5 Ways to Seek Corporate Giving
- Company-sponsored foundation – A company-sponsored foundation is a separate entity from the corporation. Approaching a company foundation for a grant is just like applying to any other type of foundation. There are usually guidelines and an application process, and these details – as well as a giving history – can be found in FDO.
- In-kind gifts – Many companies prefer to donate their own products or services to nonprofits. Called “in-kind support,” this can be a good way for a nonprofit to start a relationship with a company. For example, if you run a soup kitchen, you might approach a food company or local supermarkets for supplies. To find companies that offer in-kind donations in FDO, find Transaction Type under Advanced Search & Filters, and select “in kind gifts.
- Corporate giving programs – A corporate giving program is administered by the company itself, often through a dedicated department such as Community Relations. Tracking down corporate giving programs can be challenging. When available, FDO will have contact information and guidelines about these types of programs, but seldom prior giving information
- Workplace giving – Workplace giving encompasses a number of different programs that encourage and facilitate employees’ donations of cash and/or volunteer time to nonprofits in their communities.
Tip: Find out where your volunteers and donors work to find employees that can act as your cheerleader.
Some of the more popular workplace giving programs offered by corporations are:
- Employee Matching Gifts: Employers will sometimes match employees’ charitable contributions.
- Volunteer Support Programs: Employees who volunteer in their communities make their companies look good, and employers may offer what’s called “Dollars for Doers” – providing grants to nonprofits their employees support. Also, if you need volunteers, some companies will help organize groups of employees for various nonprofit projects.
- Pro bono expertise: Some companies will “donate” their professional expertise.
- Annual Giving Campaigns: Donations through Payroll Deductions can also be set up for employees who wish to effortlessly donate to a worthy cause. However, usually nonprofits must be affiliated with a “pass through” organization, like the United Way or the Combined Federal Campaign.
Utilize the Transaction Type filter under Advanced Search & Filters to search for grantmakers who support these types of Workplace giving.
5. Corporate sponsorship / Cause-related marketing – Both of these are advertising opportunities, and therefore must be entered into thoughtfully. It’s worthwhile to note,
donors could perceive a nonprofit as “selling out” to a company not seen as socially responsible.
Think like a marketer – what products or services do your donors or clients likely use, and what companies offer them? Also, don’t ignore small businesses in your community.
The key thing to keep in mind when approaching companies for any type of support is that they are profit-making enterprises and are looking for some kind of “return on investment” for their philanthropic dollars. Motivations for giving might include getting their name in front of potential customers, keeping their employees happy, or burnishing their reputation in their communities. Your job is to discover what they want and convince them that supporting you is a win-win for all involved.
Lori Guidry – Foundation Center San Francisco Lead
As City Lead for Foundation Center West, Lori oversees Foundation Center public services and programming for the social sector in the Bay Area — helping nonprofits in the region find the information and tools they need to be successful. She has worked in information services for more than 15 years, specializing in business and marketing topics, including corporate social responsibility. A native of Chicago, she earned her Masters in Library & Information Science from Dominican University in River Forest, IL.