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Monitor These 6 Corporate Giving Trends for Maximum Impact

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Published August 30, 2023 Reading Time: 7 minutes

This blog was written in collaboration with the team at Double the Donation, an online donation matching tool built to amplify nonprofit fundraising. 

Staying on top of the latest fundraising trends is essential in today’s ever-changing nonprofit landscape. In particular, one area that continues to grow in prominence and popularity year over year is corporate giving.

When charitable organizations partner with socially minded corporations, there’s potential to establish a symbiotic relationship that leverages their strengths, opportunities, and resources to drive positive change. These partnerships may involve project or event sponsorships, community grants, workplace giving programs, cause marketing campaigns, and more. In other words, corporate partnerships come in all shapes and sizes, and there’s much to gain, regardless of the partnership form.

As a result, nonprofits must closely monitor current and projected corporate giving trends to set their fundraising and partnerships teams up for success. By aligning your nonprofit’s strategies with the findings in this guide, you can position yourself for greater collaboration, funding, and community engagement to increase total giving levels. And you can do it all while fostering long-lasting, sustainable partnerships to maximize the impact of your mission.

Key Takeaway: Corporate Partnerships Must Come Before Corporate Giving.

The most effective donation appeals take a personalized engagement approach, with the fundraiser investing time and energy into building a relationship with the prospective donor. When individual contributors lack knowledge of your organization and a connection to your cause, they’re not likely to write you a check.

Similarly, corporate partnerships require solid connections and understanding before pitching a sponsorship. Like individual donors, companies tend to invest resources and rally their employees around causes they genuinely care about.

Take time to engage with a company and learn about its values, business objectives, employee base, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals. This paves the way for a more meaningful and fruitful conversation. Building rapport with potential partners helps them understand your nonprofit organization’s mission and demonstrates your commitment to a mutually beneficial, long-lasting relationship.

Remember, relationships are at the core of successful fundraising efforts, whether with individual donors or corporate stakeholders. With robust fundraising software like Classy, you can uncover partnership opportunities, streamline engagement efforts, and simplify corporate fundraising. This enables you to provide an optimal experience for your corporate partners, fostering strong and lasting relationships to support your cause in the coming year and beyond.

Relevant Corporate Giving Trends for Nonprofits to Track

Corporate giving is a prevalent strategy⁠—and it only continues to grow. Data discussed in Classy’s recent webinar, Six Ways to Strengthen Your Corporate Partnerships, indicates that 2021 saw over $21 billion in donations from companies to nonprofits, a 24% increase over the previous year. Meanwhile, surveys indicate that 94% of major U.S. corporations plan to heighten or maintain charitable giving in the next few years.

The ways in which these opportunities manifest can differ greatly, yet it’s essential to watch these specific and impactful trends in corporate philanthropy and CSR. Doing so will better position your team to uncover and pursue partnerships effectively.

1. Philanthropy Aligned More Closely With Crisis Response, Current Events

Year-long giving initiatives remain a crucial tenet of corporate philanthropy, but there’s also been a notable shift toward aligning efforts with more timely campaigns. In particular, many companies have rallied their employees to support crisis response and current events⁠—such as the COVID-19 pandemic, social justice movements, refugee crisis support efforts, natural disaster relief, and other urgent affairs⁠—through corporate and workplace giving.

Such efforts have unearthed that crowdfunding websites are an excellent tool to raise funds quickly and effectively. By mobilizing employees⁠—and sometimes the general public⁠—to contribute directly to relief efforts, they can use their influence to make a significant impact with their charitable contributions.

2. Reinstated Employee Giving Programs

While most companies’ employee giving programs get sustained from year to year, in some instances, companies pause the initiatives. According to Double the Donation’s matching gift trend analysis, several companies, including Kimray Inc., IBM, and UPS, had temporarily suspended their employee matching gift programs. However, all three companies reinstated these initiatives as of 2023, demonstrating a renewed commitment to CSR and employee engagement.

The reinstatement affirms the value of these programs, and many staff are eager to be re-engaged in corporate giving alongside their employers. Check out this list of companies that match donations for future corporate giving initiatives.

3. Increased Match Ratios and Donation Maximums

The more funding companies contribute to nonprofits, the greater the partnership benefits received. Today, companies continuously expand matching gift programs to bring their corporate giving potential to new heights. These include American Eagle Outfitters (which has upped its maximum match amount), The Hartford (which has doubled its existing match ratio), Chicago Community Trust (which has increased its donation limit and its match rate), and more.

In addition to maximums and ratios, many companies actively incentivize employees to participate in monthly giving programs (and match those donations) rather than only contributing one-time gifts. These program enhancements encourage employees to engage in sustained giving, motivating individuals to contribute regularly and increasing their impact on the nonprofit sector over time.

4. Increased CSR and Philanthropy Participation

Companies continue to roll out new corporate giving initiatives daily. Not to mention, corporate philanthropy and CSR are no longer exclusive to the largest corporations. Now, smaller and mid-sized businesses have shown elevated participation in social good initiatives⁠—particularly those that leverage team member involvement.

In recent years, there’s been a growing market for CSR platforms targeting small and mid-sized companies, enabling corporate giving as an increasingly accessible business strategy. This allows companies of all shapes and sizes to drive positive change through the philanthropic sector. It also provides employees with new and exciting opportunities to give back and support the nonprofit missions of importance to them.

5. Tighter Relationships Between Nonprofits and Companies

The nature of corporate-nonprofit relationships also continues to evolve. Often, companies that give are no longer content with partnerships going only as far as transactional payments. Instead, there’s a need for deeper engagement and alignment with the nonprofit missions they support through volunteer programs, event participation, and more.

Here’s how Mary Elise O’Brien, Manager of Corporate and Community Relations at the Gary Sinise Foundation, described it in a recent Classy webinar:

We’re seeing more and more that our partners don’t just want to write a check and walk away. They’re looking for ways to get truly involved in the mission and find ways that our mission and our programs can align with what their employees are involved in. Our relationships are becoming much more personal and much more customized.

Though it may require a more targeted approach to secure these types of partner relationships, the result tends to be more profound, impactful, and long-lasting collaborations that benefit both parties.

6. Rise in Virtual Employee Engagement

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemicnonprofits and companies have each seen significant shifts from primarily in-person to virtual and hybrid engagement. There are more remote workers than ever, and fundraisers have expanded their efforts beyond geographic boundaries. This has increased reliance on virtual events (like webinars, auctions, fundraising galas, online challenges, remote run/walk/rides, interactive campaigns, and more) and the platforms that power them. 

From the company’s perspective, virtual solutions enable business leaders to engage team members from afar, building employee loyalty and retention and fostering a positive workplace culture. Such virtual engagement is also an excellent avenue for nonprofits, whose teams can establish connections with corporate partners and their employees while retaining their cause at the top of supporters’ minds from anywhere in the world.

What These CSR Trends Mean for Your Organization

Corporate giving increasingly comprises purpose-driven partnerships and collaborations between nonprofits and for-profit businesses. As nonprofits strive to make a tangible difference in the world, maximizing the available support of committed funders is crucial.

Keeping up with corporate giving patterns⁠—including shifting focus areas, preferred engagement models, and employee involvement levels⁠—enables your team to tailor their partnership approach accordingly.

How to Take Advantage of These Top Trends

With a strategic approach to engagement, corporate partnerships can go a long way. Implementing these expert tips and insights can help your team build lasting relationships with companies and employees.

Ensuring Flexibility in Giving Options

Modern corporate giving prioritizes flexibility. Companies and employees are more likely to support causes when it’s easy and convenient. That’s why offering diverse giving options—one-time donations, embedded donation forms, recurring contributions, and time-based campaigns—is essential.

Emphasizing Win-Win Partnerships

Positioning partnerships as mutually beneficial is vital. Don’t go into any relationship talking solely about “me, me, me.” Instead, highlight how your mission and proposed collaboration align with the company’s goals, whether diving into CSR, increasing awareness, improving brand reputation, driving sales, or deepening employee engagement.

By showing the prospective partner that your relationship will solve a problem they face in tangible ways, you make it a no-brainer for the company to get on board.

Employing Customized Sponsorship Packages

Your partners (or prospects) have a unique place in your nonprofit’s engagements by offering tailored sponsorship opportunities. This is often the most tangible value-add a nonprofit can offer a corporate partner, and it serves as a testament to your organization’s collaboration.

Ensure you cater each package to appeal to a partner, including tailored branding on event print and digital promotional materials, virtual platforms, in-person event spaces, swag, auction items, merchandise, and more.

Utilizing Advanced Technology

Like all fundraising engagements, equipping your team with a comprehensive fundraising platform is crucial for streamlining partnership efforts and maximizing their impact. 

Features such as in-house donation processing, donor management, campaign tracking, and matching gift automation maximize the impact of corporate giving. Not to mention, recurring giving continues to gain momentum in corporate partnerships, so ensure your fundraising solution offers a complete recurring donation platform to enable corporate employees to contribute regularly.

Empowering Employee Advocates

Companies know to engage their employees in corporate giving now more than ever. Stay ahead by harnessing existing donors’ influence to advocate for your cause within their workplaces and across professional social media channels like LinkedIn.

Your donor database⁠—paired with an employee giving tool like Double the Donation⁠—can also help uncover the best partnership opportunities. If you see that a sizable supporter segment works for manufacturing company A, it’s worth reaching out to initiate a relationship. You already have a lot in common, which might be what you need to get your foot in the door.

Elevating Engagement With Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Once you have a corporate partner on board, peer-to-peer fundraising can be an excellent way to deepen engagement with the company’s employees and fuel greater levels of philanthropic giving. Equipped with impactful peer-to-peer fundraising tools, this approach fosters healthy competition between teams and departments. Virtual engagement also pairs well with gamification tactics like online leaderboards, fundraising thermometers, goal setting, incentives, and prizes.

When you challenge corporate groups or segments to see who can raise the most for your cause through social fundraising, you build positive experiences with your organization, enhance corporate giving impact, and attract new supporters through employees’ networks.

Next Steps: Getting Started With Powerful Corporate Partnerships

By monitoring and adapting to relevant trends in the corporate philanthropy space, your nonprofit team can best identify, pitch, secure, and maintain high-impact partnerships. And when you consider that the emphasis on corporate giving will only grow, you understand the increasing need for a well-thought-out strategy.

The time to launch such a strategy is now.

Gen Z and millennials continue to demand CSR as employees and consumers, applying pressure on the companies they may work for and shop from to give back and invest in social good. Such participation in corporate philanthropy allows companies to benefit greatly. Meanwhile, your organization gains additional revenue streams, new audiences, and more.

That’s not something you want to miss out on. If you’re ready to begin exploring the largely untapped potential of corporate partnerships, Classy and Double the Donation⁠—experts in corporate philanthropy⁠—can help.

Copy Editor: Ayanna Julien

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