Your relationship with your donor is like any other – if you want to keep it healthy and strong, you have to put in some work. You like them and they like you so get to know them! What are their likes and dislikes? Do they have any special interests or past experiences that have shaped them and their values? Where do they live? Where do they work? Wait – where do they work?
Getting to know your donor deepens the relationship and can help you garner vital information that just may contribute to your fundraising success. Matching gift programs are an extension of corporate giving and offer companies a vehicle through which to support employee charitable giving.
Getting to know your donor and where they work may guide you to dollars that you are currently overlooking as it offers the opportunity to tap into their company’s matching gift programs.
What do you know about your board members, volunteers, and donors? Perhaps some of them work for companies that offer some type of workplace giving program, which could be a valuable source of additional funding. As interest in corporate social responsibility grows, more and more companies have explored how to present themselves in a positive light to their consumers.
Corporate social responsibility isn’t just about minimizing the negative impacts of doing business. It’s about giving back and it may include a corporate volunteer grant program! Such programs encourage employees to get involved in their communities. The hours that an individual spends volunteering with you may translate to money from their company in the form of a volunteer grant.
It can be easy to get caught up in the potential of mapping the relationships that spin off from just one donor. These workplace programs are a great source of funding, but they often need to be initiated by an employee.
As they learn more about how their company will support their community service, you may see incredible returns on the time you invest in nurturing these relationships. It all seems so rich with potential, but where does fundraising compliance come in?
This widening circle of relationships makes fundraising compliance that much more essential. There’s an excellent chance that your organization is incorporated in one of the 41 states that require charitable solicitation registration. There’s an even better chance that you are soliciting gifts in one of those 41 states.
You’ve done an incredible job with your programming. Your donors are impressed and uplifted by how you communicate the impact of their gifts. They have found that you and your financial values are compatible with their interests. Now, they are asking their employers to match their gift and elevate the capability of their contribution. That’s solicitation.
It’s not just about where you are; it’s about where you solicit. You’ve asked your donor. That donor’s employer has matched their gift and added the company name to your roster of contributors. The state laws regulating charitable solicitation generally require that an organization register before soliciting the state’s residents. Make sure you register before you ask, that way you don’t trip over technicalities as the money comes rolling in.
When that generous donor sent you a gift and asked their employer to amplify their donation with a matching gift, the giving train left the station. Your board members and volunteers have put in the hours and are now soliciting volunteer grant awards that recognize their contribution to the community.
You don’t want to leave money on the table, especially when you’ve done the research and the work. Determine if you’re soliciting in a state and make sure you’re meeting all of the necessary requirements – before you ask.
The risks of noncompliance are worth mentioning. Many state agencies have expanded their roles from registration offices to enforcement. Such powers bring increased scrutiny of charitable organizations.
It’s not enough to just try not to draw attention to yourself. Be proactive. In fact, organizations that have solicited without registering, even for many years, are rarely penalized for registering proactively and in good faith.
If you’re not registered for charitable solicitation, you run the risk of:
- Fines and penalties that pull vital dollars away from the work that you are doing in your community.
- Audits and enforcement actions that take your limited staff and financial resources away from your mission.
- Bad PR that can damage the reputation of your organization (and its leadership) and follow you for years to come.
Prioritizing compliance makes good sense as you build your fundraising prowess and engage a diverse community of individuals and companies in your program. As you know, noncompliance can lead to harsh penalties like tax exemption repeals, steep fines that accrue day by day, and dissolution of an organization.
But luckily, in today’s world, it’s easy for anyone to research an organization and their registration status. It’s important for you that research about you highlights good news and further incentives for supporters to give their time and money (and to then ask their employer to do the same).
Remember these four key steps and keep your fundraising compliance on track.
- Research: Know your status in each state and you can easily map your path to compliance, including which applications to complete and what fees may be charged.
- Apply: Make sure you are preparing the correct forms in the most streamlined and cost-effective manner.
- Monitor: Follow these applications through to approval, for your, your donor’s, and their employer’s peace of mind.
- Renew: Track due dates and fees so that your renewals are on time and complete.
Instill confidence in your donors so their focus stays on your mission. Transparency and accountability preserve the trust you’ve built.
As Double the Donation will tell you, while $2 to $3 billion is donated through matching gift programs every year, only about 1 in 10 eligible donors match their donations. Tapping into these financial resources could make real change very possible.
Just make sure you do it the right way by being proactive about preserving your harmonious donor relationships. Getting to know your supporters and their employers will help maximize your opportunities with matching gift programs. Don’t forget to honor your valuable and desperately finite time by building a solid compliance plan. Take a good-faith step toward relationship and fundraising success and invest in compliance.
Special thanks to Ify Aduba for this contribution!
Ify Aduba is a Nonprofit Compliance Specialist for Harbor Compliance, a leading provider of compliance solutions for organizations of all types and sizes. Headquartered in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Harbor Compliance partners with organizations in every state and over 25 countries abroad to help solve the most challenging compliance problems, fully managing government licensing compliance in both nonprofit and business sectors. Stay in touch with Ify and Harbor Compliance through Facebook and LinkedIn.