Unlocking Corporate Support: Nonprofit Strategies to Thrive

March 6, 2024

Corporate support can be a game-changer for nonprofits, supplying critical resources, unlocking additional funding avenues, and amplifying visibility for social causes. From workplace giving programs and employee volunteerism to community grants, event sponsorships, and beyond, tapping into corporate philanthropy can significantly boost an organization's fundraising impact and overall sustainability.

But is your nonprofit making the most of its corporate partnership potential?

More than likely, your team has some room to grow its engagement strategies. That’s why, in this guide, we’ll share key practices that organizations like yours can employ to unlock new levels of corporate support.

These include the following expert-proven tips:

  1. Ensure your team is familiar with corporate philanthropy.
  2. Encourage donors to participate in workplace giving.
  3. Build relationships with your supporters’ employers.
  4. Focus on what you can offer corporate partners.
  5. Recognize and acknowledge corporate generosity.

Ready to see what your organization can do for its mission when equipped with powerful streams of corporate support? Let’s get started with the basics!

#1: Ensure your team is familiar with corporate philanthropy.

Corporate philanthropy encompasses a large number of forms, and a solid foundation of knowledge on the topic is essential for growing success. Thus, take some time to educate your fundraising team on the various types of support you might receive from a corporate partner.

These include:

  • Matching gifts
  • Team volunteer initiatives
  • Skills-based volunteering
  • Volunteer time off
  • Volunteer grants/dollars for doers
  • Nonprofit sponsorships (for specific projects or events)
  • Cause marketing campaigns (point-of-sale, percentage-of-revenue)
  • Grants 
  • In-kind gifts (e.g., materials, technology, pro bono services, etc.)

Understanding these different avenues of support is essential for preparing your team to make the most of the opportunities at your fingertips. In doing so, you can better identify and leverage opportunities for corporate collaboration. 

Luckily, there are a ton of resources available to aid in this endeavor, including blog posts, downloadable guides, webinars, and even an online learning system from our partners at Double the Donation!

#2: Encourage donors to participate in workplace giving.

While some sources of corporate giving are facilitated between your organization and the companies contributing funds directly, others involve individual donors requesting support from their employers on your behalf. The latter category makes up what is known as employee or “workplace giving.”

These programs, which include popular initiatives like matching gifts and volunteer grants, essentially place employees in the driver’s seat of their companies’ philanthropy. For example, in a matching gift program, a company might supply a “bonus” donation at a dollar-for-dollar rate, while in a volunteer grant initiative, it may provide a grant equal to $25 per hour a team member volunteered. In either case, an individual employee was the driving force behind the funds!

The issue, however, is that tons of nonprofit supporters who qualify for these types of programs have never been made aware of the opportunity in the first place. As a result, donors and volunteers are not taking the necessary steps to secure corporate funds for their favorite causes.

That’s why we recommend taking a proactive approach to marketing workplace giving to your audience. Identify supporters who work for matching gift and volunteer grants companies, inform them of their eligibility for such programs, provide detailed instructions for participation, and encourage them to get involved. 

Luckily, you can streamline the identification and outreach processes with automation technology. This type of tool empowers your team to raise more funds through workplace giving initiatives while minimizing the time and effort required to do so.

#3: Build relationships with your supporters’ employers.

When seeking broader opportunities for corporate support (beyond workplace giving initiatives like matching gifts and volunteer grants), establishing and leveraging your connections can go a long way. And the companies your supporters work for can be some of your most valuable networking prospects, opening doors to new partner relationships.

If your team is already equipped with a matching gift tool (like Double the Donation), this solution may be able to assist in identifying potential partners, too. How? Some of your greatest prospects are going to be the companies for which your donors, volunteers, and board members work. Double the Donation collects employment data and organizes it into an easy-to-understand format⁠—a Top Companies dashboard like this:

From there, you can use the information to guide your corporate engagement strategy and get your foot in the door for partnership conversations. For example, companies with existing workplace giving initiatives display an inspiring dedication to philanthropy. Your team can provide a number of chances for such businesses to expand their giving.

Meanwhile, a non-matching gift company presents an opportunity to pitch a corporate partnership as an easy way to get started. Your supporters may even be willing to facilitate a warm introduction with their employer or advocate for a sponsorship opportunity on your behalf.

#4: Focus on what you can offer corporate partners.

Corporate relationships are a two-way street. When approaching potential partners, it's essential that your team highlights the value proposition your nonprofit brings to the table.

To do so, you’ll want to clearly communicate how partnering with your organization aligns with the company's goals, values, and overall social responsibility initiatives. Whether it's marketing to your target audience, unlocking opportunities for employee engagement, or strengthening a brand’s reputation, emphasizing what the collaboration will offer your partner can help attract additional corporate support.

Plus, if you have additional resources to simplify the collaborative experience⁠—such as pre-made marketing assets or other templates⁠—let prospective companies know from the start! When a mutualistic partnership seems attainable, companies will be more inclined to jump in.

#5: Recognize and acknowledge corporate generosity.

Just like you thank each donor for their individual contributions, it’s essential to recognize and appreciate corporate partners for their support of your cause.

Keep in mind that as you flesh out a partnership agreement, your teams may align on a number of social media posts, press releases, or other event materials through which you’ll publicly recognize your corporate partner. But you can also go above and beyond in your acknowledgment and stewardship efforts to thank them for their generosity and continue fostering goodwill and nurturing the ongoing relationship.

Additionally, providing regular updates on the tangible outcomes produced by a corporate partner’s support can further reinforce their commitment to your cause and increase their likelihood of future collaborations.

Unlocking corporate support is vital for nonprofits looking to thrive in today's competitive and fast-moving landscape.

By ensuring your team is well-versed in all things corporate philanthropy, actively encouraging donors to participate in workplace giving, building relationships with businesses in your network, focusing on your value-add, and recognizing corporate generosity, you can position your organization for ultimate success. And when you implement these strategies effectively, your nonprofit team can forge meaningful partnerships and tap into new avenues for growth and impact.