Corporate Philanthropy: The Ultimate Guide to Giving
What is Corporate Philanthropy?
Corporate Philanthropy Definition
The act of a corporation or business promoting the welfare of others, generally through charitable donations of funds or time
How can corporate philanthropy help nonprofits?
Corporate giving helps nonprofits through various methods of support, such as matching gift programs and volunteer grants. The impact of donations and volunteering for nonprofits can be drastically increased with the help of corporate programs.
Last year, corporations in the United States donated more than $17.77 billion to nonprofit organizations, including arts organizations, health and human services, and educational institutions.
How can corporate philanthropy help businesses?
Corporate philanthropy is an essential business function that helps support communities where companies are based, foster employee engagement, and generate business value. Companies that participate are also able to create a positive public image for themselves, enhancing their relationships with consumers, and cultivating a positive work environment.
What is the difference between corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility?
Although they may seem similar, corporate social responsibility (or CSR) describes the overall attitude of an organization toward society at large, while corporate philanthropy is a narrower form of social responsibility and encompasses the acts a company takes to promote social good, largely through nonprofit giving.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide:
Types of Corporate Philanthropy
Matching Gifts and Volunteer Grants
As the most popular form of corporate philanthropy, companies with matching gift programs donate the same amount of money (or double or triple this amount!) to the nonprofits that their employees do.
Common parameters set on such programs are employee eligibility (e.g., only full-time employees), nonprofit eligibility (e.g., only educational institutions), match ratio (e.g., 1:1 or 2:1), maximum and minimum donations matched (e.g., gifts of $50-$2,000), and deadlines (e.g., one year after the donation).
Volunteer grants (also known as Dollars for Doers programs) are second only to matching gifts in popularity. These giving programs match employees’ volunteer hours with donations to those nonprofits.
Volunteer grant programs are usually structured with thresholds instead of an exact hour-to-donation ratio. That is, once employees have volunteered for a minimum predetermined number of hours (e.g., 20 hours), their employer will donate a set amount to that nonprofit (e.g., $500).
Other Types of Corporate Giving Programs
Corporations provide grants to nonprofits for specific programs and projects. Usually, these grants award restricted funds, which must be spent on a set project. To apply for a grant, nonprofits submit a grant proposal that explains their case for support and qualifications. Then, the corporation will award the funds to a single nonprofit or disperse them to multiple organizations.
However, some corporations offer grant opportunities that have an unlimited number of recipients. For example, the Google Ad Grant and Microsoft Ads for Social Impact programs will award funds to every organization that meets the criteria and successfully completes the application process.
Employee Grant Stipends
Some corporations will award grants to employees to donate to the nonprofit of their choice. Stipends are given on top of a regular employee’s hourly wage or salary. They’re a great way for a company to build an attractive benefits package.
While these programs are less common than matching gift or volunteer grant programs, they are impactful for the nonprofits that benefit from them and help corporations build strong relationships with their employees.
Volunteer Support Initiatives
Corporate philanthropy isn’t always about donating money. With volunteer support initiatives, companies partner with nonprofits to organize times when their employees volunteer. This can be especially useful for nonprofits that partner with corporations whose employees have a specialized skill set.
Companies frequently give financial support to a nonprofit to help further their mission through corporate sponsorships. The nonprofit will then recognize this by acknowledging that the business has supported their activities, programs, and/or larger events.
Scholarships from private organizations such as corporations have more than doubled over the past 20 years, with organizations such as the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation offering scholarships of up to $20,000. Corporations can invest in the next generation by offering scholarships directly or helping to fund nonprofits’ scholarship programs.
While corporate gifts are usually monetary in nature, businesses can also donate supplies and services to nonprofits. For example, a business might donate their previous computers and monitors upon upgrading to the latest technology. Or, a business that has employees with specialized skill sets may have members of their team work for the nonprofit at no cost.
Takeaway: There are corporate giving programs that encourage employee giving and help companies achieve their business goals. Explore the pros and cons of all the different forms of corporate philanthropy.
Corporate Philanthropy Basics
Why is Corporate Philanthropy Important?
Nonprofits and corporations should both be familiar with the ins and outs of corporate philanthropy. When these organizations work together for the common good, they inspire generous giving, which has a positive impact on nonprofits and society and helps businesses reach their goals.
For example, corporate philanthropy can lead to:
Positive Work Environment
Bringing employees together to participate in team volunteer grants or other team programs encourages everyone to see themselves as part of the greater community. This feeling of community increases their motivation at work and can lead to greater community involvement.
Increased Employee Engagement
Employee disengagement is at an all-time high, and productive corporate giving programs are one tool for encouraging greater engagement. Companies with engaged employees who enjoy their jobs regularly outperform companies with disengaged workers, and collective participation in philanthropy engages employees with each other.
Partnering with a nonprofit enables corporations to publicly show their communities how invested they are in their betterment through press releases, social media, and word of mouth! Their work then adds to greater social change.
Enhanced Consumer Relationships
Consumers want to buy from companies that are doing good deeds in the world, especially those that support causes they care about. By upholding their commitment to these causes, companies make a huge impact.
Takeaway: Employees want to work for companies that support the causes they care about, and consumers want to purchase goods and services from philanthropically engaged companies. Businesses see benefits from being great corporate citizens. Everyone wins!
Corporate Giving & Philanthropy Statistics
Corporate Philanthropy Best Practices for Nonprofits
There are multiple ways nonprofits can raise more by taking advantage of corporate philanthropy. From building awareness to actively searching your donor database for supporters with corporate connections, try out these tips to raise more money for your organization:
1. Use a corporate philanthropy database.
Encourage your donors to search their eligibility for matching gifts using a corporate giving database. Once donors have completed their gift, they can search for their employer using a search tool embedded into your nonprofit’s website. If they are match-eligible, they’ll be connected with their company’s matching gift guidelines and the steps they need to follow to submit a match request.
2. Automate your match eligibility process.
Invest in a matching gift automation platform that automatically searches your donors when they give to your organization to determine their match eligibility. If they are match-eligible, the platform will then automate outreach to these donors encouraging them to submit a match request. Double the Donation even goes the extra mile by streamlining the matching gift request experience for eligible donors with its exclusive auto-submission functionality!
3. Encourage volunteers to match their hours.
Many volunteers at nonprofits don’t know that their companies offer volunteer grant programs. Encourage them to search their company name in a corporate philanthropy database to determine whether their employer offers such a program. If their company does, they can then follow the provided guidelines to submit a grant application.
4. Arrange corporate volunteer days.
Work with corporations in your community to organize opportunities for groups of employees to volunteer. Not only will your nonprofit get assistance for ongoing projects, but the participating corporations can use volunteering as a team-building opportunity, potentially leading to repeat volunteer days.
5. Acquire event sponsorships.
If your nonprofit has connections to local businesses, consider petitioning them for an event sponsorship. Corporate sponsorships provide nonprofits with vital funds for large-scale fundraising and awareness events, and businesses can use them as opportunities to publicize their connection to a good cause like yours.
Corporate Philanthropy Best Practices for Businesses
On the company side of corporate philanthropy, there are plenty of strategies businesses can implement to ensure their programs effectively engage employees and support their communities. Check out these corporate philanthropy best practices for businesses:
1. Create a comprehensive program.
When you’re developing your corporate philanthropy program, make sure it includes a variety of strategies and initiatives. For instance, you might include matching gifts, volunteer grants, and direct sponsorships for nonprofits. That way, you give employees different ways to get involved and maximize engagement. Additionally, nonprofits will appreciate having multiple opportunities to gain your support.
2. Develop a clear program policy.
After you’ve determined which types of corporate philanthropy your program will include, create a program policy. This policy should include an overview of your program, eligibility criteria, a grant request procedure, and a program point of contact. It should be clear how both employees and nonprofits can get involved. Implementing a thorough corporate philanthropy policy can preemptively answer any questions and address any concerns about your program, ensuring that everyone can easily find the information they need.
3. Get your team on board.
Corporate philanthropy is a team effort. Make sure all team members know how important it is not only for your community but also for the business itself. Demonstrate to leadership how philanthropic initiatives benefit all stakeholders, including employees, customers, and investors. Use statistics such as the ones below to back up your case:
- 77% of consumers want to purchase from companies with CSR initiatives.
- 55% of employees claim they would take a lower salary to work for a socially responsible company.
- 73% of investors look to invest in companies that improve the environment and society as a whole.
Explain the connection between your business objectives and the benefits of proposed corporate philanthropy initiatives to your team, and you’ll make a compelling case for adopting a giving program.
4. Make participation exciting for employees.
The success of your corporate philanthropy program often relies on your employees. Make them excited to participate by leaning into the social aspect of corporate philanthropy. Volunteer opportunities in particular can bring together employees from different areas of the company and help them work on their team-building skills. In fact, 70% of employees think corporate volunteerism is a better morale booster than more traditional company-sponsored activities like happy hours.
Additionally, you can encourage participation by setting corporate giving goals and celebrating when your team reaches them. For example, you may aim to raise $10,000 in employee donations over the course of a month or log 1,000 volunteer hours per quarter. Once you reach your goal, host a team lunch or after-work celebration to commend your employees for a job well done.
5. Form meaningful nonprofit partnerships.
Corporate sponsorships benefit both parties involved. While nonprofits gain financial support, company sponsors get positive public recognition. Partner with nonprofits with values that align with your own to get the most out of your sponsorship. For example, a clothing company may work with a homeless shelter to ensure residents have warm clothing for the winter. You can also survey employees to find out which nonprofits they’re passionate about and forge partnerships with those organizations.
6. Promote your program.
Once you’ve developed your program, set up a meeting with your team. Review the program policy, the benefits, and how employees can get involved. Naturally, questions may arise, and it’s much easier to answer them during a dedicated meeting than relying on email. After notifying your employees, spread the word about your program to the greater community. Use a variety of methods, such as social media, your website, and email newsletter.
7. Evaluate and improve your program with data.
To evaluate your program’s success, track important metrics. Collect relevant data, such as how much money you’ve raised, how many volunteer hours your employees have tracked, and how many nonprofits you’ve assisted. For qualitative data, send surveys to your employees and nonprofit partners to get their feedback on your program. Then, take their suggestions into account to improve your philanthropic efforts. Once you’ve collected this data, you can also feature it in your annual report to showcase the social good your company has done.
8. Use CSR software.
With so many moving parts in your corporate philanthropy program, organization is key. Investing in CSR software allows you to create a dedicated space for all philanthropy-related activities and communications. That way, it’s easier for employees to get involved, boosting employee engagement. Take a look at all of the program components CSR software can help you keep track of:
- Employee donations
- Automatic payroll deductions
- Matching gift requests
- Volunteer hour logs
- Volunteer grant requests
- Volunteer opportunities
- Corporate philanthropy metrics
Once you’ve chosen the right CSR platform for your business, train your team on how to use it. You can also send a survey to employees to get their feedback on the software and adjust your corporate philanthropy approach as necessary.
Examples of Companies Doing Philanthropy Right
|COMPANY||ANNUAL GIVING INFO||LEARN MORE|
|$12,000 maximum match per employee||Google’s program|
|Coca-Cola Company||$20,000 maximum match per employee||Coca-Cola Company’s program|
|Boeing||$10,000 maximum match per employee||Boeing’s program|
|Walmart||$250 for 25 volunteer hours||Walmart’s program|
|Apple||$25 per volunteer hour||Apple’s program|
|Wells Fargo||$2,000 maximum match per employee||Wells Fargo’s program|
|ExxonMobil||$500 grant after 20 hours of volunteering||ExxonMobil’s program|
|Chevron||$10,000 maximum match per employee||Chevron’s program|
|Microsoft||$15,000 maximum match per employee||Microsoft’s program|
|Bank of America||$5,000 maximum match per employee||Bank of America’s program|
Leading Corporate Philanthropy Programs
In recent years, Google set a 5-year goal to give $1 billion in grants and offer 1 million employee volunteer hours. Google will match up to $10,000 in employee donations at a 1:1 ratio.
To take their philanthropy further, they also supply nonprofits with free access to their paid advertising platform. Through the Google Ad Grant program, eligible organizations can receive $10,000 in free ad credits each month to promote their web content. We recommended working with a Google Grant agency to help you apply and create your ads.
The Coca-Cola Company values the economic empowerment and entrepreneurial development of women, education and youth development of local communities around the world, and access to clean drinking water in deprived areas. Through their corporate philanthropy programs, they will match up to $20,000 per employee at a 2:1 ratio.
Corporate Philanthropy Database:
Learn More About Double the Donation
Nonprofits can increase their revenue by promoting matching gifts and volunteer grant programs to their supporters. Through these programs, donors can double their gifts and volunteers can make an even greater impact with their time.
Double the Donation can help both nonprofits and employees take advantage of such corporate philanthropy opportunities.
Double the Donation offers the #1 matching gifts and volunteer grant database, with more than 8,500 organizations using it. As the most comprehensive and up-to-date resource, corporate employees can look up their companies to determine whether they are eligible for matching gifts, volunteer grants, or both.
In addition, full-service automated matching gift solutions like 360MatchPro by Double the Donation can do more than provide users with the necessary information and forms. These services can actually move donors through the matching gift request submission process, from identifying match-eligible donors through email domain screening to sending automated reminder emails. Your staff saves time, and your donors get the guidance necessary to ensure they submit their matching gift requests promptly.
How the Database Works:
Access the database.
Search for your employer.
View the results.
Plus, Groundbreaking Auto-Submission Functionality:
Taking our best-in-class corporate philanthropy database to the next level, Double the Donation now offers breakthrough auto-submission functionality as well. When qualifying donors give on their favorite organizations’ donation forms (powered by Double the Donation’s matching gift tool), they can bypass the traditional request process that typically follows—instead, completing a streamlined submission directly from their gift confirmation screen!
This allows users to submit their matches more easily than ever before, driving more supporters to take quick steps to double their impact. With no website redirects or portal logins required, it eradicates many longstanding roadblocks that often hinder donors from completing the process.
All it takes is a corporate email address (or another piece of identifying information) for an individual to click “submit” on their match. Double the Donation handles the rest, in partnership with companies’ CSR management platforms!
A gift is made, and an employer is selected from an online donation form.
The match request is submitted from the confirmation screen.
Additional Corporate Philanthropy Resources
Corporate Giving Programs: The Ultimate Guide
Corporate giving programs allow all sorts of companies to invest in the greater social good.
Corporate Matching Gift Programs
More companies than you realize offer corporate matching gift programs.
Corporate Volunteer Grant Programs
Many companies offer excellent volunteer grant programs to their employees.
Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits
The Google Ad Grant program represents an excellent opportunity for nonprofits to tap into corporate philanthropy and increase their digital presence.