6 expert strategies for increasing corporate giving revenue

Corporate giving platform

For nonprofits and schools, securing reliable funding sources is paramount for bankrolling operations and driving meaningful change for your cause. Fortunately, corporate giving has emerged as a key trend, offering a symbiotic relationship between fundraising teams and the businesses interested in supporting them.

However, most organizations are missing out on key funds, largely due to sparse corporate giving strategies and fundraising priorities that lie elsewhere⁠. This means that while corporate giving holds immense promise, harnessing its full potential requires a well-built-out approach driven by proactive engagement.

In this guide, we’ve compiled a list of best practices your team can follow to scale up your corporate fundraising efforts and pursue these invaluable opportunities. Specifically, we recommend you do the following:

  1. Apply for corporate grants.
  2. Ask donors to pursue matching gift opportunities.
  3. Encourage volunteers to request dollars for doers.
  4. Offer tailored partnership opportunities.
  5. Seek event sponsorships.
  6. Solicit support through in-kind donations.

All in all, maximizing corporate giving for your institution can unlock a wealth of resources to supercharge your mission going forward. Incorporate these methods into your strategy to bring your efforts to new heights!

1. Apply for corporate grants

Corporate grants can be defined as financial contributions provided by companies to support specific projects or initiatives by eligible organizations. While they can vary in scope and availability, grants from companies and corporate foundations are generally sizable amounts that can go a long way toward bringing about your mission.

To apply for a corporate grant, you’ll want to start by researching businesses that align with your organization’s mission and funding priorities. (We recommend looking at entities known for their philanthropy⁠, such as these corporations that donate regularly to nonprofits and schools.) Once identified, reach out to the company’s CSR department or foundation head to inquire about grant opportunities and application processes.

Your team will then complete the application according to its instructions, which may involve submitting a detailed proposal⁠—tailored to the prospective partner⁠—outlining your programs, impact, and needs. If your organization is selected as the grant recipient, be sure to maintain open communication and follow up with the company as needed throughout the process.

Fun fact: Corporations (and corporate foundations) donate an average of $21 billion to charitable organizations each year.

2. Ask donors to pursue matching gift opportunities

Matching gifts are specific programs through which companies match their employees’ charitable donations to qualifying causes. These efforts effectively double or even triple the impact of individual contributions, increasing fundraising revenue without requiring additional funds from supporters. Not to mention, the presence of a matching gift can help attract new supporters and strengthen donor engagement, too.

However, to secure funding through these programs, each donor must complete their employer’s matching gift request process⁠, which usually involves a brief online submission form. Unfortunately, many eligible donors have no idea their employers match gifts and won’t know to complete the form at all. 

That’s why one of the best ways to grow impact with these types of programs is to market the opportunity to your donors. Be sure to mention matching gifts in your fundraising appeals, donation pages, gift acknowledgments, email blasts, social media posts, direct mail appeals, and more. And if you have an upcoming campaign or event⁠—such as a dedicated giving day⁠—you’ll want to integrate matching gift promotions alongside your other materials as well.

When you educate your audience on the programs, supporters will be more inclined to double their contributions to your cause⁠, thus supplying your team with an integral source of corporate revenue.

Fun fact: 11% of total corporate giving is contributed through matching gifts, which equates to an estimated $2-3 billion each year. Meanwhile, an additional $4–$7 billion worth of matching gift funds goes unclaimed annually.

3. Encourage volunteers to request Dollars for Doers

Similar to matching gifts, tons of companies offer volunteer grants as a way to incentivize their employees to give back to their communities. However, the difference is that volunteer grants (which are also called Dollars for Doers) supply corporate funding in response to employee volunteerism rather than monetary gifts.

Still, staff are generally required to complete a simple online application process to request a volunteer grant on behalf of their favorite cause. And that means your team taking a proactive approach to encouraging those requests is a key practice! Again, you’ll likely want to start by educating your volunteer base about the opportunity to monetize their donated time at no cost to them. Be sure to highlight volunteer grants—including well-known companies that offer the programs⁠—in your volunteer orientation, email outreach, event materials, and beyond.

Fun fact: 80% of companies offering volunteer grants provide between $8-$15 for each hour a team member volunteers.

4. Offer tailored partnership opportunities

Nonprofit-corporate partnerships are not one-size-fits-all. Instead, mutually beneficial collaborations require a custom approach that considers the unique objectives and values of both parties. And that’s where tailored partnerships come in.

When your team is willing to work with prospective companies to craft personalized partnership agreements, you can organize powerful initiatives designed to leverage each team’s strengths and resources to maximize the symbiotic relationship.

Start by conducting thorough research on potential corporate partners to understand their goals and areas of interest. With this knowledge in tow, create a personalized proposal that is likely to resonate with the company. While it will certainly vary, your pitch could include sponsorships, cause-related marketing campaigns, and corporate volunteer activities.

If you know a company is focused on enhancing its brand image, center your proposal on activities that are likely to produce ample publicity (think: marketing events). On the other hand, if a business is prioritizing corporate philanthropy as a way to engage with its staff, you might want to focus on employee giving opportunities like one-off matching gift partnerships and more.

Keep in mind that your existing supporters’ employers can be some of your greatest prospective partners. That said, collecting and utilizing donor employment data can go a long way in guiding your corporate giving strategies!

Fun fact: 90% of companies say that partnering with well-regarded nonprofits or schools improves their brand image, while an estimated 89% believe this leverages their ability to enhance their communities.

5. Seek event sponsorships

Many nonprofits and schools organize fundraising events as a key component of their revenue-generation strategies. If your team is looking to elevate your next event, a corporate sponsorship⁠—or a type of financial support provided by companies to nonprofits for specific events in exchange for branding and marketing exposure⁠—can be a great choice.

To pursue this type of partnership, begin by identifying potential sponsors whose values align with the event’s mission (e.g., a pharmaceutical company sponsoring an event to raise funds for medical research) and target audience (a children’s toy brand sponsoring a youth sports program). Then, outline a few tiers of sponsorship packages that highlight the tangible benefits for potential partners and begin reaching out to companies in your network.

Fun fact: Event sponsorships represent a growing trend in corporate marketing. As of today, only 5% of fundraising revenue is sourced from cause-related sponsorships⁠—meaning there’s a huge opportunity for growth.

6. Solicit support through in-kind donations

Finally, in-kind donations are another type of corporate support that can significantly impact nonprofit fundraising despite not involving a monetary contribution at all. Essentially, gifts-in-kind are contributions of goods, services, or expertise provided by companies to charitable organizations, offering valuable resources to significantly reduce costs, fulfill specific needs, and enhance program operations overall.

To solicit in-kind donations from corporate partners, begin by identifying businesses whose core offerings align with your organization’s own mission and needs. For example, you could seek the services of a catering company to supply resources and staff for an upcoming gala.

From there, approach potential partners with detailed appeals that outline the specific impact any in-kind contributions would have on your mission (e.g., a grocer supplying 1,000 cans of nonperishable food items could feed 100 families in need) as well as the company’s bottom line (those contributing in-kind donations will be included in your “sponsors” page and social media content, which reaches an audience of 20k users).

Fun fact: 81% of survey respondents report contributing food or other tangible goods to nonprofits through in-kind donations.

Regardless of the specific strategies you choose, it’s important that you clearly communicate the tangible impact corporate giving revenue has on your mission. Then, be sure to provide ample recognition for participating partners to ensure visibility, strengthen your mutually beneficial relationship, and foster long-term support for your cause.

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