Before purchasing Luminate Online Marketing for your nonprofit, find out if it's the right product set for your organization by asking yourself these questions.

Luminate for Blackbaud: 5 Questions to Ask Before You Buy

Looking for a set of powerful, completely customizable online fundraising and marketing tools for your nonprofit? For many organizations, Luminate for Blackbaud is the only answer.

There’s a reason why so many nonprofits turn to Luminate Online Marketing for their online donor engagement needs. The Luminate Online product is expansive, adaptive, and—when configured correctly—uniquely comprehensive.

But before you assume that Luminate is the right choice for your nonprofit, think carefully. While an ideal choice for many nonprofits, the fact of the matter is that Luminate Online is not a universal fit. 

To determine if your organization could benefit from Luminate, first consider these questions:

  1. Is your nonprofit ready for Blackbaud’s Luminate Online?
  2. What are your goals for Luminate Online?
  3. Will you need Luminate Online add-ons?
  4. What integrations or customizations will you need for your Blackbaud Luminate system?
  5. How will your nonprofit get set up with Luminate Online?

In this post, we’ll cover the Luminate Online Marketing buying process. If you’re not yet familiar with the product, we recommend first taking a look at DNL OmniMedia’s guide to Luminate Online; it will give you the understanding you need to start considering Luminate for your own nonprofit.

To find out if Luminate is right for you, keep reading!

Luminate Online is designed for enterprise-level nonprofits with complex goals.

1. Is your nonprofit ready for Luminate Online?

Before you should even start looking at products and comparing prices, your nonprofit needs to understand that Luminate Online is not meant for everyone.

Let’s break down exactly who the audience for Luminate Online is:

  • Luminate Online caters to enterprise level organizations. These products were not designed for up-and-coming or mid-level nonprofits. Luminate Online is intended for those organizations who are established enough to benefit from a custom solution that can help them manage fundraising and communications for a wide donor base.
  • Luminate Online requires a financial investment. Luminate does not seek to serve nonprofits searching for low-cost software to get them started with online fundraising. Instead, Luminate is best-suited for organizations whose budgets can accommodate a powerful, top-tier solution that can meet their needs for the long run.
  • Luminate Online is designed for nonprofits with complex needs. If your organization is simply trying to accept online donations and send automated email blasts, Luminate Online will likely offer more than you’re ready to use. Because it’s designed to be customized extensively, Luminate works best for nonprofits who need a more specific set of features than those offered off-the-rack.

If your nonprofit isn’t quite ready for a solution so far-reaching, don’t worry! There are plenty of simple, affordable nonprofit digital fundraising and marketing tools that can meet your needs immediately.

But if you think your organization is at a place where Blackbaud’s products can give you the next-level donor engagement and fundraising features you need, start mapping out your game plan, including a budget, list of goals, and an appeal for your board.

What to Know: Blackbaud’s Luminate Online Marketing solution is an exceptional product that is best-suited for large nonprofits with specific fundraising needs and a flexible budget.

Determine how you'll use Blackbaud's Luminate Online to move your nonprofit's mission forward.

2. What are your goals for Luminate Online?

Luminate Online can help your nonprofit accomplish a number of things, but it’s up to you to decide what those accomplishments will be.

Before you jump into your product search, make sure your organization is on the same page when it comes to how you’ll use Luminate Online.

As a jumping off point, get together with key staff (i.e., those who’ll be primarily using the Luminate software), and brainstorm answers to questions such as:

  • How do your current digital fundraising and marketing solutions fall short? Are you piecemealing several solutions? Are you unable to store all of your constituent data?
  • Do you require a customized online fundraising solution? How can you improve your fundraising campaigns and/or marketing efforts by taking a more specific strategy? How could your software help you achieve that strategy?
  • What specific fundraising and communication goals would you like to meet? What dollar amount is your fundraising target for the upcoming year (or multi-year period)? Do you hope to better engage supporters via email, direct mail, or social media? Do you hope to attract new donors, and if so, how many?

Your goals will be unique to your nonprofit, but no matter what, they should always be measurable and as tangible as possible.

While some targets will inherently be more abstract (such as donor engagement), you should set sub-goals that relate to a highly specific metric. For example, if your goal is to strengthen email communications, you should set specific secondary goals tied to email open and click-through rates, follow-up engagements, and lead captures.

What to Know: Before committing to Luminate, make sure your nonprofit is clear with how you’ll use the product, with specific, measurable goals in mind.

Blackbaud Luminate Online also offers add-ons to expand the product's features, so determine if your nonprofit needs access to these solutions as well.

3. Will you need Luminate Online add-ons?

Once you’ve decided that the move to Luminate Online is a wise one, it’s time to start seriously considering the product at hand and deciding which features you’ll want access to.

To recap, Luminate Online Marketing comes with the following tools as part of the standard solution:

  • Dynamic email campaign management.
  • Digital fundraising and donation processing.
  • Online donation form-building.
  • Fundraising campaign reporting and analytics.
  • Flexible event creation and calendar management.
  • Web design and campaign microsite creation.
  • eCommerce and web store management.

While those solutions can easily cover the needs of many nonprofits, if your organization needs more tailored fundraising and engagement solutions, you can also implement one (or more) of Blackbaud’s Luminate Online add-ons.

Here’s our breakdown of each additional option you can tie to your Luminate Online system:

  • TeamRaiser. Luminate’s peer-to-peer fundraising solution enables nonprofits to manage social fundraising initiatives by creating team fundraising pages, giving donors the tools to become fundraisers, and planning fundraising events.
  • Luminate Advocacy. With tools to help nonprofits grow their supporter network and turn advocates into donors (and vice versa!), Luminate Advocacy is designed for organizations leading next-level policy campaigns.
  • Luminate Content Management System. For organizations with specific web design needs, Luminate CMS provides a functional, user-friendly interface for nonprofits to create and share content online.

For organizations already using (or considering) the Blackbaud family of products, incorporating these add-ons makes more sense than seeking outside dedicated fundraising platforms. However, these solutions are not included in the initial Luminate Online Marketing feature set, so you should make sure they actually align with your nonprofit’s goals before paying extra for them.

What to Know: Blackbaud offers Luminate Online add-ons to extend their core product. If your organization uses peer-to-peer fundraising, advocacy, or content management systems to achieve your goals, consider adding these solutions onto your Luminate purchase.

Luminate Online is endlessly customizable, so consider how you'll adapt the platform to meet your nonprofit needs.

4. What integrations or customizations will you need for your Luminate system?

You’ve got your eye on the perfect product and the right add-ons to meet your needs; now it’s time to start thinking about how you can make the Blackbaud Luminate tools your own.

Arguably the greatest advantage to using Luminate Online Marketing is the full scope of customization it allows. While many fundraising software options have limited amounts of customization (such as donation form fields or reporting metrics), Luminate is a little different. Essentially, Luminate Online requires specific configuration to really meet your nonprofit’s needs.

That configuration might mean setting up custom workflows, dashboards, user-interface options, or other features that don’t come standard in Luminate. No matter how you want to adjust your platform, keep in mind that these configurations will require an in-depth IT knowledge.

What does that mean for you? Most likely, it means that you’ll need to find an outside developer to help you design and implement your customization plan. 

In addition to customizing the backend of your Luminate Online system, you might also need to integrate existing platforms into your online marketing system to get a holistic view of your entire set of fundraising and marketing efforts.

For example, you might want to integrate these solutions with Luminate Online:

  • Matching gifts. Luminate Online comes with some matching gift capabilities, but if your organization relies on corporate giving as a major form of fundraising, you’ll need to integrate your matching gift services with Luminate.
  • Prospect research. To take the most strategic approach to identifying and targeting major donors, you can integrate your prospect research or wealth-screening tools into your Luminate Online system.
  • Luminate CRM. For organizations on Salesforce, Luminate CRM provides a pathway to integration with the Luminate Online solution. (Tip: read more about how Luminate CRM differs from Luminate Online here!)

Like configurations, these custom integrations likely require the help of a nonprofit technology consultant, at least for the initial set-up and data transfer.

We’ll touch more on how these consultants can help you in the next section, but keep in mind that their services come at a price. If broad customization is necessary for your organization, make sure there’s plenty of room in your budget to find the help you’ll need to implement and use your configurations and integrations.

What to Know: To get the most out of Luminate Online, you’ll want to configure the software to fit your specific needs and integrate third-party platforms you rely on. To make this process as smooth as possible, you should enlist the help of a qualified nonprofit technology consultant.

Your nonprofit will need support and training from a nonprofit technology consultant to get set up with Luminate Online.

5. How will your nonprofit get set up with Luminate Online?

This point might be last on the list, but don’t be mistaken—understanding the Luminate Online implementation process is one of the most crucial considerations to keep in mind!

Luminate Online is not a download-and-get-going kind of product, which reinforces its standing as a solution only intended for nonprofits who are highly capable and willing to make an investment now for the sake long-term usability.

There are a few specific elements of the Luminate implementation process that you should think about before purchasing the software:

  • Data migration. Often a complicated process, effective data migration is essential so that all the donor information you’re currently storing can be used within your new Luminate system.
  • Set-up. Once you have your data in place, there will likely be additional steps (including configurations) to make sure your platform is installed and working correctly.
  • Training. While user-friendly in its own way, Luminate Online requires extensive training to get fully acquainted with the software’s tools and features.

In order to complete the first stages of your nonprofit’s long-term Luminate Online usage, you will likely require the help of a nonprofit technology consulting firm. 

Your nonprofit is just getting started with Luminate, so you don’t have to be an expert yet; however, you will need an expert on your side as you attempt to navigate the ins and outs of this larger-than-life software solution.

Consultants can help you map out your Luminate Online strategies, transfer your existing data, configure your platform, and train your staff on how to use Luminate Online to its fullest potential.

What to Know: As you dive into your Luminate Online experience, make sure you have the guidance of a Blackbaud expert to ensure smooth sailing and long-term satisfaction.


Now that you know if Luminate Online is right for your organization, it’s time to get started with your new product.

Check out these additional resources to get more out of your Luminate Online solution:

  • DNL OmniMedia’s Guide to Luminate Online. As nonprofit technology consultants and Blackbaud authorities, DNL OmniMedia can help you understand Luminate Online like no other. Read their guide to find out everything you need to know.
  • Luminate CRM: Key Considerations Before You Buy. Luminate Online isn’t the only Blackbaud Luminate product that can supercharge your fundraising and donor engagement. If you’re a Salesforce user, see how Luminate CRM can take your constituent management to the next level.
  • Luminate Online: From Consideration to Implementation. Now that you know Luminate is the best choice for your online fundraising needs, allow Fundly to walk you through the Luminate Online buying process in great detail.

Small Companies Matching Gifts

Companies that Match Gifts to Higher Education Colleges and Universities

Everyone who has attained a bachelor’s degree has received a call from their Alma mater asking for donations, perhaps even before the graduation ceremony has concluded. And the statistics show that alumni do give back to their colleges and universities. Luckily, many of these generous gifts will be matched by alumni’s employers.

Matching Gifts to Education (Colleges and Universities)

Most matching gift programs began by only matching to colleges and universities. Many companies expanded their programs to include other nonprofit organizations, or all nonprofit organizations. However, there still remains a large contingent of companies that only match to higher education ( which excludes K-12 educational organizations or schools).

Almost all the companies you’ve read about in our previous posts (such as Bank of America, GE, Coca-Cola, Home Depot) will match gifts to colleges or universities. In this post we put together a list of some companies with lesser known matching gift programs. Oftentimes when a company only matches to higher education they can fall under the radar.

List of Companies Matching Gifts to Universities

This list is by no means comprehensive but rather a sampling of well known companies with matching gift programs. In fact, over 65% of Fortune 500 companies have an employee matching gift program.

View a list of the top matching gift companies in the US.

Allstate Insuranceallstate-matching-gifts

Allstate will match gifts to higher education on a dollar for dollar basis through their Good Hands Matching Gift program. They will also match 15% on donations made to other 501(c)(3) organizations.

Read more about Allstate’s matching gift program.

ConAgra Foods Inc.conagra-matching-gifts

ConAgra will match gifts to higher education between $25 and $1,000. They also match to programs for nutritional education; these programs need not be associated with a college or university.

Read more about the ConAgra Foods matching gift program.

eBay Inc.ebay-matching-gifts

The popular online auction site will match employee donations made between $25 and $500 per year. In addition to matching gifts to education, Ebay will also match gifts to most other nonprofit organizations.

Read more about eBay’s matching gift program.

Sherwin-Williamssherwin-williams-matching-gifts

Sherwin-Williams offers a matching gift program where the company matches up to $3,000 in donations to a wide variety of nonprofits including colleges and universities.

The company’s matching gift program is open to both current employees as well as retirees.

And in case that’s not impressive enough, Sherwin-Williams also has a great volunteer grant program.

Read more about Sherwin-Williams’ matching gift program.

ExxonMobilExxonMobile Matching Gifts

Although ExxonMobil is actually quite well-known for its corporate philanthropy, it is worth noting in terms of higher education because of how generous the corporation’s program is. ExxonMobil offers two matching gift programs, the Arts and Cultural Matching Gift Program and the Educational Matching Gift Program.

Through the Educational Matching Gift Program, ExxonMobil will match donations to higher education institutions, including U.S. colleges and universities. They match at a 3:1 ratio for the first $7,500 donated.

Read more about ExxonMobil’s matching gift program.

Examples of four colleges and universities promoting matching gifts across their online fundraising:

  1. Adrian College
  2. Eckerd College
  3. The Cooper Union
  4. University of Utah

Adrian College

Adrian College, located in Adrian, Michigan, is a private liberal arts college that was recently ranked as the #1 Midwest College by U.S. News and World Report.

Adrian College promotes matching gifts on their:

  1. Dedicated matching gift page
  2. Donation form with a screen overlay

Main dedicated matching gift page:

If alumni are looking for different ways to support their alma mater, Adrian College’s matching gift page offers helpful information to donors about making their donations go further. They let donors know that it might not just be their own employer that will match their donations; contributors can also solicit their spouses’ companies for matching donations or ask if a company they retired from will match their gift.

Adrian College then offers Double the Donation’s search tool to help donors check if their employers will match their donation.

Adrian College Matching Gift Page

Donation form:

Alumni and others who are ready to give to Adrian College can find more information about matching gift programs on the institution’s online donation form. In addition to the other options on the page, Adrian offers donors the chance to look into matching gift programs their employers provide.

Adrian College Matching Gifts on Donation Form

When the link is clicked, there is a screen overlay with matching gift information. Users simply type in the name of the company they work for to find matching gift information.

College Donation form with Matching Gift Screen Overlay

If their employer provides a matching gift program, the screen overlay displays important information such as:

  • Minimum or maximum donations that will be matched
  • Corporate contact information
  • Links to the electronic matching gift submission process / relevant matching gift forms
  • Easy to understand instructions

Eckerd College

Founded in 1958, Eckerd College is a private, liberal arts college located in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Eckerd College promotes matching gifts on their:

  1. Donation form with a link to a new window
  2. Dedicated matching gift page

Donation Form:

If alumni and other individuals choose to contribute through Eckerd College’s easy-to-use online donation form, they can find information about matching gifts in two separate places. Both the text link and the graphic in the sidebar take users to an informative dedicated matching gift page. The matching gifts section of the donation form itself then allows donors to indicate whether their donation will be matched by their employer or their spouses’ employers’ matching gift programs as well.

Eckerd College Donation Form with Two Matching Gift Options

When either the text link or the graphic is clicked, a new window opens taking donors to the college’s dedicated matching gift page. This page tells donors that their spouses’ employers and even former employers (for retirees) could offer matching gift programs to make their donation go further.

Dedicated Matching Gift Page:

Eckerd College’s dedicated matching gift page highlights the Double the Donation search tool for donors to use to research their employers’ gift matching programs offering helpful information and guidelines.

Eckerd College Matching Gift Page

The Cooper Union

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, commonly shortened to simply The Cooper Union, was established as a privately funded college in 1859 by Peter Cooper on the idea that education should be accessible and free to qualified students regardless of race, gender, wealth, or social status. Until 2014, the college granted each admitted student a full-tuition scholarship valued at approximately $150,000. Students who attended The Cooper Union can donate and help fund scholarships, events, and academic endeavors.

The Cooper Union promotes matching gifts on their:

  1. Dedicated matching gift page
  2. Donation form with Double the Donation’s tool in an expandable matching gift section

Dedicated Matching Gift Page:

The Cooper Union’s matching gift page lets alumni and other donors know about matching gifts and gives them instructions on how to obtain a matching donation from their employer. The page also encourages donors to use Double the Donation’s search tool to look for more in-depth information about their employers’ matching gift programs. Additionally, the page offers vital contact information if donors have other questions.

The Cooper Union Matching Gift Page

Donation form:

For donors who are ready to give, The Cooper Union’s online donation form also offers information about matching gift programs that their employers may provide. At the bottom of the page, donors can open an expandable matching gift section.

Higher Education - The Cooper Union Donation Form with Matching Gifts

 

When a user clicks on the expandable section, the Double the Donation search tool appears to help donors research more about their employers’ matching gift programs. Once a donor finds their company, they can find forms, guidelines, and instructions to help their donation to The Cooper Union go even further.

 

The Cooper Union Higher Education Match Tool

University of Utah

The University of Utah is a space-grant research university based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Established in 1850, the University of Utah offers over 100 majors and is home to Utah’s only medical school. Former students and others who wish to give to the University of Utah help fund libraries, scholarships, academic projects, and athletic programs.

The university promotes matching gifts on their:

  1. Ways-to-Give page
  2. Dedicated matching gift page
  3. In the donation process with a screen overlay

Ways to Give Page:

While the University of Utah offers its donors many ways to donate, they use the space on their Ways-to-Give page to promote corporate matching gift programs. Not only do they provide general information about matching gift programs, but they also provide donors with Double the Donation’s search tool to learn more about their specific employer’s gift matching policies.

University of Utah Ways to Give Page with Matching Gifts

Matching Gift Page:

In addition to including matching gifts on the Ways to Give page, the University of Utah has a designated matching gift page so they can promote matching gifts via email and social media. They give donors the same search tool that can be found on the Ways to Give page so donors can instantly access the matching gift forms, guidelines, and instructions they need.

Along with company specific matching gift information they also offer many of the most common questions that donors may have.

University of Utah Matching Gift Page

Donation process:

For donors who already know how they want to donate to the university, the donation page reminds them of matching gift programs. Donors are given the option to designate their contribution to a specific program or institute at the university and are also encouraged to look into matching gift programs by clicking on the matching gift link that opens to a screen overlay.

University of Utah Matching Gifts on the Donation Form

When a user clicks on the link it leads to a screen overlay:

University of Utah Matching Gift Popup

 

Additional Matching Gift Marketing Resources:

The colleges and universities who have the most matching gift success incorporate matching gifts throughout their broader fundraising efforts.

While the above examples provide a few samples from a handful of colleges and universities, we encourage you to check out the following resources:

  1. Download our Ultimate Guide to Marketing Matching Gifts
  2. View ideas and examples of how to promote matching gifts in the donation process
  3. View ideas and examples of how to promote matching gifts across your communications
  4. View ideas and examples of how to promote matching gifts across your website

Additional Strategies for Higher Education Institutions Seeking Matching Gifts

A generous corporate philanthropy program can only help your institution if your donors are aware of the potential. You’ll need to take an active approach to both promoting matching gifts and seeking out candidates.

Strategies for colleges and universities can have quite the range, including:

Matching gifts are a valuable resource, so ensure that your institution is taking advantage of the potential. It won’t take much, but, as you can see from the corporate guidelines sampled above, a little goes a long way with matching gifts.

Compliance: A Gift Matching Success

Compliance: A Gift Matching Success

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.

There’s an excellent chance that your organization is incorporated in one of the 41 states that require charitable solicitation registration.

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.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.

 

Corporate Sponsorship for Your Run, Walk, or Ride Event: Best Practices

Corporate Sponsorship for Your Run, Walk, or Ride Event

Most nonprofits are used to asking individuals for donations to support their run, walk, or ride fundraising events.

But asking businesses to sponsor those same events can be just as important! In fact, IEG, an organization that tracks corporate sponsorship of charitable causes, projects that total sponsorship spending by businesses in North America alone will reach $23.2 billion in 2017.

So how do you tap into that source of funds for your organization’s next event?

Check out some valuable tips and techniques that we’ve found work well for the nonprofits we’ve worked with over the years!

Who do you ask for a corporate sponsorship?

Start locally

Approach the businesses in the immediate area of your event. They’re likely to see the value in sponsoring an event in their own community.

Look online

Search for lists of companies that donate to nonprofits. You might find one you haven’t thought of before.

Know your points of contact

In addition to working with the person who will sign the sponsorship agreement, ask to speak to someone about forming a team and getting more involved. Developing a relationship with both parties will ensure you get more out of the partnership and help the sponsor feel more involved.

Get human resources involved

Most organizations looking for corporate sponsors approach the marketing department of a business — but why not ask the human resources department?

Ask if they have a health initiative in place. If they do, asking them to form a team would be a great way for them to get involved. You can offer discount codes for employees, a designated meeting place on event day, volunteer opportunities, and/or other perks depending on the level of sponsorship.

How do you ask for a corporate sponsorship?

Be creative

You can have a company sponsor just about anything — from the portable toilet area to your photo booth. Use aspects of your event that already exist, and turn them into sponsorship perks.

For larger events, know your worth

If you have an event with hundreds or thousands of people, make sure your levels are high enough (such as $1,000 and up). You don’t want to be so high that no one will want to sponsor, but by keeping levels elevated, sponsors will feel like this event is well-run, and that you have confidence in what you’re doing.

For smaller events, don’t leave money on the table

If you have a smaller event and have difficulty securing a large sponsorship, consider offering a lower sponsorship level with fewer perks. For instance, offer a $100 level, and several smaller businesses that were not interested in the larger sponsorship may be able to take part at that level within their budget.

Tell them a story

Explain to sponsors how their sponsorship/support can directly impact someone as part of your mission. For instance, $1,000 will help us do X for X number of people. Also, for your past sponsors, tell them how last year’s sponsorship was able to help your organization accomplish X.

Tailor your ask

Avoid using a one-size-fits-all ask for your potential sponsors. Customize each sponsorship for each company/business or person of contact. If there’s a natural fit between your organization’s mission and the company, use that to build your ask around.

Make them feel like you’re building a mutually-beneficial partnership toward a common good/mission, not just asking them for money.

Remember in-kind donations

If a business declines to offer a monetary sponsorship, ask for a non-monetary sponsorship such as coupons for free services on event day, or that a portion of their proceeds on event day to be donated back to the organization. A business in the area could also serve as a location for the kick-off party, packet pick up, or after-event party.

You can also reach out to companies to provide services you’ll need at the event, such as photography, DJ/entertainment, signage, food, portable toilets, and tent/chair rentals. The value of their goods or services can equate to a sponsorship level.

Use data

Find out what demographics a sponsor is targeting, and provide them with information about your event that would be relevant. For example, if a company tends to target women 50-60 years old, let the company know how many people or what percentage of participants attend your event that fall into this group.

Pay attention to your timing

The timing of your ask is important. A lot of larger companies earmark a specific amount of money each calendar year for charitable giving, so be sure to ask when is the best time for them to consider a sponsorship.

Oftentimes, you have to get your ask in very early to even be considered. Other times, you have to consider the business you’re reaching out to. For instance, if you’re reaching out to an accounting firm during tax season, you’re most likely not top-of-mind and your request may go unanswered.

Don’t give up

Always check back to ensure someone has received your call, email, letter, etc. If not, ask to speak to the best person at the company, and/or resend your ask to that person.

How do you work with a sponsor once they’ve signed up?

Treat them like participants

It may sound odd, but many sponsors will feel more engaged and like they’re getting more from their sponsorship if they hear from you more often. This doesn’t mean sending them an email every day, but rather treating them like you would a top fundraising team.

Use the same engagement tools and approaches you use with participants to connect with your sponsors. Offer them a free team captain registration, help them get their page set-up, and provide fundraising coaching. The more a sponsor fundraises and the larger their team, the more exposure they will get and will feel like they’re getting more out of the sponsorship.

Pay attention to the little things

Yes, big perks matter, but the little touch points make a big difference. Send a handwritten thank you or a note from a participant or beneficiary of your cause’s work. If the sponsor also fundraised, create a top fundraisers certificate that you send to them by mail.

These little touch points show that you acknowledge the importance of their support, yet they cost minimal amounts, demonstrating good stewardship in that you aren’t wasting the sponsor’s money.

Thank your sponsors publicly

Don’t underestimate how much companies and businesses like to see themselves online. Tag their company/business page on Facebook, and publicly thank them in a post. You can easily do the same on Twitter, Instagram, etc.

Most likely, the company will then re-post your original post to their full audience to help your event reach new constituents. You can also highlight your sponsors in an event program, marketing materials, and outreach (e.g., emails).

Securing corporate sponsorship may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Put these best practices to use for your next run, walk, or ride event, and corporate sponsorship will be within your reach.


Special thanks to Daniella, Laura, and Christina of Cathexis Partners for contributing the above advice! Cathexis Partners help nonprofits maximize technology for fundraising and supporter engagement.

Daniella Dowiak of Cathexis Partners

Daniella Dowiak is an Account Manager who has worked in the nonprofit sector for more than seven years. With a deep understanding of nonprofits’ limited resources, she is passionate about helping organizations get the most out of their technology.

 

Laura L. Higgins of Cathexis PartnersLaura L. Higgins is a Strategic Consultant who specializes in fundraising and community-building events, and has worked with nonprofits for more than 15 years in various roles including staff member, volunteer, and consultant.

 

Christina Relacion of Cathexis PartnersChristina Relacion is an Account Manager who has more than 10 years of experience in digital marketing, website editing, video production, and social media. Before joining Cathexis Partners, she served as Communications Manager at the Scleroderma Foundation’s national office.

 

DonorShops / Double the Donation Integration Guide

Does your nonprofit use DonorShops? Are you looking to incorporate Double the Donation’s matching gift information into your DonorShops donation pages?

If so then this guide is for you.

How does the integration work?

DonorShops will display a Double the Donation widget after a donation or purchase is completed, on the Thank You or Order Review page.  This widget gives your donors the option to select their employer in order to help match their contribution.

DonorShops does not store any donor/employer matching data.  All DonorShops does is display the widget powered by Double the Donation.  You manage donation matching using the Double the Donation product.

How do I install Double the Donation into my DS site?

Before you get started, you’ll need the Embed Code from your Double the Donation account.  Be sure to have that handy before you follow these steps.

Step #1: If you haven’t already, create a Thank You page for your One-Page Checkout donations.  Go to Pages & Menus and create a new page.  Be sure to select “Visibility: Hidden from Menu”.  Edit the content of the page to be sure you communicate a thoughtful thank you message.

 

Step #2: Below your thank you message is where you’ll want to include the Double the Donation embed code.  DO NOT TRY TO PASTE THE EMBED CODE DIRECTLY INTO THE TEXT BOX.  That will not work.  You need to paste in the embed code using the Code option in the text editor and paste the embed code there.

Step #3: Hit Save in the top right corner.  After hitting save, you can click ‘View’ to preview the Thank You Page.

Step #4: Now you need to connect the Thank You Page with your One-Page Checkout forms.  This option could differ depending on the theme you have installed.  Typically, its under Site Design > Customize.  Look for a setting called “One Page Checkout Thank You Page”.  Select the Thank You page you just created, then hit Save in the top right corner.

Step #5: Done 🙂

Double the Donation Embed Notes: If you’re not sure how to access the Double the Donation Embed Code, please follow the below steps:

  1. Log into your Double the Donation account by going to https://doublethedonation.com/members/
  2. Choose the Embed Our Plugin Link
  3. Copy the Embed Code

Additional details are available at https://doublethedonation.com/blog/2015/02/matching-gift-plugin/

 

For Add-to-Cart Checkouts:

After a cart has been processed, the donor is automatically taken to the order review screen.  That serves as the “Thank You” page for add-to-cart style donations and purchases.  In order to connect Double the Donation to this page, you’ll need to update the advanced template for your Order Review screen.  Be sure you have the proper permission levels before continuing.

  1. Go to Site Design > Advanced.  Find the Order Review template and click the magnifying glass to modify it.
  2. Paste your code either at the very top or the very bottom of the code that you see on your screen.  Pasting at the top will cause the Double the Donation widget to appear ABOVE the order review screen.  Pasting at the bottom will cause it to appear BELOW the order review screen.  You choose.
  3. Hit PUBLISH in the top right corner.  The change you make here is more difficult to preview.  You’ll need to find an existing order and click the “View Customer Receipt” option to view the order review screen changes in action.
  4. Done 🙂

 

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4aGoodCause and Double the Donation Integration

4aGoodCause / Double the Donation Matching Gift Integration

4aGoodCause and Double the Donation have teamed up to help your online donors acquire matching gifts from their employers.

How it Works

4aGoodCause clients can integrate Double the Donation’s search tool directly on the thank you pages of their fundraising campaigns. Donors can then lookup company specific matching gift information right after donating. After the donor makes their gift the website will prompt them to “See if your employer will match your donation!”

Matching Gift Search

Visit the Double the Donation website to view a demo of the plugin.

 

Why Matching Gifts Matter

Though $2 to $3 billion is donated through matching gift programs every year, only about 1 in 10 eligible donors match their donations.

Every year, about $6 to $10 billion of matched donations is left unclaimed. Since many companies may match up to $10,000 for every donation, the revenue adds up quickly.

Raise awareness and make it easy for your donors to submit matching gifts using this new integration with Double the Donation.

How to get started

To enable the matching gift tool in 4aGoodCause you’ll first need a valid API Key from Double the Donation.

You can either obtain a Double the Donation API key from your Double the Donation Account Management Portal (if you signed up for Double the Donation’s Premium Plan) or through 4aGoodCause.

How to enable the plugin in 4aGoodCause

Once you have your API Key follow these steps to turn on Double the Donation in your 4aGoodCause account.

#1: Login to https://4agc.com as a Nonprofit User.

#2: Click on Integrations on the left menu and click on the Double the Donation logo.

4aGoodCause Integration Options

#3: Check the box to Enable the Double the Donations matching gift plugin. Enter your API Key in the textbox provided. It is 16 characters long. It is recommended you copy and paste the key into the box to avoid errors. Only valid keys given to you by 4aGoodCause or Double the Donation will properly enable the tool. Click Save Key.

4aGoodCause Matching Gift Integration with api key from Double the Donation

Your donors will now be presented with matching gift information after donating or registering across all your campaigns.

4aGoodCause Matching Gift Integration on Donation Confirmation Page

More Information

Visit the Double the Donation Website or contact support@4agoodcause.com for more information.

How to disable the integration

Should you desire to disable this integration, follow the steps below.
  1. Login to https://4agc.com as a Nonprofit User.
  2. Click on Integrations on the left menu.
  3. Click the Double the Donation logo.
  4. Uncheck the Enable Double the Donations Matching Gift Plugin box
  5. Click Save Key.
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3 Things You Didn't Know About Volunteer Grants

3 Things You Didn’t Know About Volunteer Grants

Did you know that one volunteer hour equates to about $23 for your organization? Of course, this may vary by state or location, but volunteer hours have a significant impact on the nonprofits they serve.

Did you also know that those volunteer hours can have a large financial benefit to your organization if they come from corporate volunteers?

Corporations can give donations based on the number of hours their organization contributes. Think about how this could impact your cause!

It’s no surprise that corporate grants and donations elevate your mission. Developing relationships and partnerships with corporations can have unlimited benefits for your cause. However, there are a few things that you may not know about corporate giving.

Corporate Giving is on the Rise

Corporations donated $18.45 billion for an increase of 3.9% in 2015. The revolution of corporate responsibility is steadily growing. Clearly, corporations want to make a difference in their communities.

Millennials want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, too. The Millennial Impact Report states that millennials want to work for a corporation that is making a difference in their community and the world.

By 2020, millennials will make up about 50% of the workforce. By incorporating philanthropy into corporate culture, businesses become more attractive to this generation.

Corporations must make philanthropy a priority in order to stay competitive in today’s market, which will only increase the popularity of volunteer grants and programs.

It is also important that your nonprofit stays at the forefront of this trend. Making sure your supporters are aware of these opportunities could be extremely beneficial for the growth of your organization.

In order to continue the growth of corporate giving and volunteer grants your nonprofit needs to have an open stream of communication with your supporters.

Here are a few ways your nonprofit can spread the word about volunteer grants:

  • Communicate all benefits of volunteer grants to supporters. By communicating the benefits of corporate grant programs, you can rest assured that your volunteers are aware of the opportunities. This will encourage them to reach out to their employers to see if they can participate in one as well.
  • Be available for questions. Your volunteers are bound to have questions. You need to clearly communicate contact information on your website and via social media. If volunteers cannot get their questions answered, they will likely go somewhere else to volunteer.
  • Reach out to local businesses and corporations for partnership opportunities. You won’t know if a business would be interested in a partnership if you don’t reach out to them. You never know what relationships will come from being persistent!
  • Promote volunteer grants on social media, emails, newsletters, and marketing efforts. Educating your supporters about grant programs will also encourage them to reach out to their employers. They want to help your organization in any way they can, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so!
  • Celebrate your current corporate sponsors and volunteers. Showing appreciation for your current volunteers and corporate sponsors will encourage them to continue to give to your organization. Everyone likes to feel appreciated.

2015 Was America’s Most Generous Year Yet

When there is an increase in charitable donations, it is a direct reflection of the state of the economy. More donations equate to better economic conditions. If the state of the economy is doing well, then corporations are likely to be doing well too.

In order to capitalize on the opportunities created by a strong economy, you must make your nonprofit visible to your community.

When corporate volunteers are aware of your brand, they’re more likely to come to your organization when they’re ready to donate their time.

Here are a few ways to make your nonprofit stand out to corporations and encourage volunteer grant programs:

  • Cultivate brand ambassadors. By having your current volunteers promote your cause, you will attract more volunteers and corporate supporters. The more people you have talking about your mission and wearing your logo, the greater buzz your organization will create.
  • Strengthen your leadership team. Encouraging strong leadership within your organization can also encourage more corporate grants and volunteers. Corporations want to be involved and support an organization that has structure. There are many ways to show your supporters how strong your leadership team is.
  • Engage supporters. Engaging supporters is key to cultivating corporate volunteers. You can do this via social media, emails, newsletters, and your overall marketing efforts.
  • Encourage corporate volunteers. By building relationships with your corporate volunteers, they will be inspired to continue to volunteer for your organization. The stronger relationships you build, the more loyalty and trust you will develop.
  • Research team volunteer grants. Group volunteer grants provide an opportunity for your nonprofit to reach out to corporations that have known grant programs. Corporations want to be involved in the community, and this is the perfect way for your nonprofit to create that partnership.

Corporate Giving Consists of 5% of Total Charitable Donations

What does this mean for the nonprofit community? There is a lot of room for growth with volunteer grants!

5% is a small amount in comparison to the amount individuals donate, so now is a great time for your nonprofit and the community to reach out to corporations and build partnerships.

Research companies that provide volunteer programs and grants. You can start by reviewing the top matching gift companies. These companies will give you a great starting point. Consider reaching out to begin building relationships with them.

Your organization can also promote the value to corporate responsibility. The more corporations are open to giving to nonprofits, the more social good nonprofits can do. Corporations have a lot of power and financial resources that can be extremely beneficial to your nonprofit.

In order for your nonprofit to grow and be sustainable, you need resources. Spreading the word about social responsibility will benefit everyone in the long run. These partnerships can truly make a difference in every community.

Communicating the impact social responsibility and volunteer grants can have on nonprofits can contribute to the social good movement.

Make it a priority for your nonprofit to market and communicate the benefits of corporate grants. This will help continue the growth of corporate donations and grants. Don’t miss out on this opportunity!


Ashley Chorpenning is VolunteerHub’s Marketing Communications Specialist.

Measuring your company's social impact

How to Measure Your Company’s Social Impact

Which statement has more impact?

“We donated $300 to a charity who feeds the hungry.”
“We fed a single mother’s family of four children for a week.”

Data and numbers have more meaning when they tell a story. But with hundreds or thousands of employees at your company, it becomes infinitely more difficult to pinpoint the overall social impact.

This post will provide strategies on how to measure your company’s impact with these tips:

  • The Importance of Measuring and Sharing Impact
  • Starting Simple to Determine Your Impact Area of Focus
  • Calculating Your Impact
  • Communicating Your Social Impact

It’s important to understand that you don’t need to change the world overnight.

You can begin by simply looking at one program or activity. Understanding what occurs and then tracking and analyzing that data can lead to a better understanding of how your company is positively impacting the world.

Learn how you can measure social impact.

The Importance of Measuring and Sharing Impact

Hopefully you agree that tangible results have more meaning than raw numbers, as in the example above.

But I’ll also explain three other reasons why measuring and sharing your social impact is important:

  • Impact demonstrates that a company is living up to its values and drives a more positive company image.
  • Impact increases employee engagement.
  • Impact can highlight a company’s contribution to greater civic engagement programs such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and IMPACT 2030.

Many companies have values but don’t always show with concrete results how they are living up to this mission.

Providing impact results can back up the social responsibility value claims your company makes. This has the added advantage of boosting public perceptions of a company.

Managers go to great lengths to motivate employees, reduce turnover, and increase employees general work ethic and morale. Yet it’s proven that employees engage more with an employer who practices social responsibility.

79% of people prefer to work for a socially conscious company.

Communicating or publishing impact successes can do wonders to boost employee morale which has major impacts on the bottom line.

Sharing impact also illustrates the company’s collaboration with and contribution to larger movements. One organizational effort in particular, IMPACT 2030, which I’ll discuss in a later section, is a great way to get involved in the larger sustainable community.

Most company goals already align with the SDGs — it’s just a matter of discovering yours. It also offers an opportunity to connect with customers or vendors who also share the same goals.

Measuring social impact for nonprofits is about starting slow.

Starting Simple to Determine Your Impact Area of Focus

Before calculating your impact, it’s important to define or determine the social mission. Consider both your company’s and your employees’ social goals to define one specific impact area to focus on at a time.

What does your company already say it cares about? Is community engagement, making a difference in local communities or caring for others or the planet part of your company’s values or culture? Does your company focus on a specific cause or have a history of rallying around one event or non-profit organization?

You could also consider which nonprofits or organizations you already support. Perhaps you could choose your impact measurement based on which non-profit received the most funds from your company. It could be as simple as that.

While the company mission is the guiding rudder, the culture of the employees are the oars that keep the boat rowing.

Where are they donating their money, time, and resources? Use the causes of your employees to appeal to what matters to the people who define your company and culture.

By looking at both your company’s mission and the culture, you’ll find one area of focus to help you calculate and share your impact.

Learn how your organization should measure social impact.

Calculating Your Impact

Next comes the numbers. This section will explain best practices for measuring company effort, as well as give examples for how to determine what kind of real world impact results from the company’s CSR efforts.

Check on a nonprofit organization’s website or reach out to them directly to find out how they calculate dollars into tangible impact.

Nonprofits give estimates to help you total up these numbers. For example, Smile Train estimates they create one “new smile,” or cleft palate surgery, for every $X donated. This makes calculations simple.

But what about other organizations who might focus on more abstract or less measurable goals, like medical research?

This become more difficult to measure. We always recommend reaching out to an organization to develop relationships and work together to determine impact numbers in this case.

If you work with a select charity aligned with a broader company goal, then get those charities engaged to help you measure the specific impact of volunteering or dollars on your combined goals – for example, number of students mentored, increase in test score year over year for same group, or amount of water cleaned.

Your CSR provider should have tools to better track and report on your company’s impact numbers. Here are some additional tips on using CSR software to your advantage: 

  • Consider adding a question to the admin panel that gathers impact data for all volunteer events.
  • Consider adding a post event survey to gather additional quantitative data, like number of students mentored, read to, or tutored.

A part of social impact is communicating with your donors.

Communicating Your Social Impact

By being creative in the way you communicate your company’s impact, you can receive the benefits outlined above. You should communicate this both internally and externally.

Here are some ideas:

Internally:

  • Include digital signage on your CSR platform.
  • Create a voting campaign to recognize and maybe even reward employees or teams contributing the most to a specific goal. The reward can be a corporate donation or cause card.
  • Include the numbers, stories, and recognition in executive all-hands meetings or communications.

Externally:

  • Generate an engaging end-of-year report (Dell does a great job of this).
  • Create a social impact page on your website.
  • Write a press release/blog.
  • Create branding or stories for conferences, sales meetings, and on the wall at the office.

Conclusion

None of this is possible if you aren’t tracking the efforts of your company and its employees and if you haven’t first considered the impact the activities or dollars create.

Whatever your company size, it’s critical to measure the good that you do.

So whether you’re tracking giving, volunteering, and grants in an excel spreadsheet, or using a powerful CSR software platform, the point remains. Having a CSR tool that makes sense for your company size is critical.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to:

  • Prove you’re acting on your sustainable values.
  • Build employee morale with engagement.
  • Contribute to larger social forces.

For inspiration, check out Double the Donation’s list of 10 Companies Doing Corporate Philanthropy Right.



Blaine McGaffiganBlaine McGaffigan is a Content Marketing Specialist who brings over 5 years of digital marketing experience to YourCause. He strives for creativity in all projects, and believes a unique and sincere voice is critical for engagement. In his free time, you can find him kayaking the river, taking photographs, and reading comics.

Simply put, YourCause, LLC is a technology company connecting corporations and their employees with the causes they care most about. Our SaaS-based CSRconnect Platform is a fully hosted and managed solution used to engage employees in volunteering, giving, and sustainability initiatives, along with helping grants administrators manage corporate and foundation philanthropic programs. We currently support over 4.2 million employees in 160+ countries at more than 140 Fortune 1000 companies. Since inception, we’ve processed nearly $1.5B to charities and tracked over 23M volunteer hours – that’s 2,625 years! The companies partnering with us are joining the YourCause Global Good Network, representing some of the most committed corporate citizens and dedicated nonprofits around the world.