The key to growing corporate relationships? Matching gifts!

Good morning, DonorDreams readers! As the Beatles sang so many decades ago, “I get by with a little help from my friends“. As you know, I’ve been relying on a number of guest bloggers to get me through a busy period. Today’s guest post is from Adam Weinger over at Double the Donation blog.Adam shares  I hope you enjoy this morning’s post.  Here’s to your health!  ~Erik

How Your Nonprofit can use Matching Gifts to Grow Corporate Relationships

By Adam Weinger
Double the Donation
matching giftMatching gifts are a great way for your nonprofit to receive twice as many donations from donors and their employers. While this benefit is obvious, did you know that matching gifts can also help your nonprofit create and cultivate relationships with corporations?
Nearly every company is looking to expand and improve its culture of corporate social responsibility. Your nonprofit can help these businesses achieve their goals while you simultaneously promote matching gifts to your donors!

Here are three ways that your nonprofit can use matching gifts to cultivate corporate relationships.

If your nonprofit has existing partnerships with corporations that provide stellar matching gift programs to their employees, thank those companies for encouraging employee giving and helping your nonprofit accomplish its mission.
Take a look at Double the Donation’s list of the top matching gift companies to see if any of your corporate partners made the cut!

1. Press releases

Sending out a press release is one of the best ways for your nonprofit to put the spotlight on your corporate partners. Not only is this a highly visible and simple way to let people know about the good that your organization’s corporate partner is doing, but it also gives you an opportunity to let others know more about your nonprofit in general.
A sample press release should include information about:

  • Past donations.
  • How long your nonprofit has been partnered with the company.
  • How many employees have taken advantage of the matching gift program.
  • The other types of corporate giving programs that the company offers.
  • Any other pertinent information.

Press releases draw attention to the philanthropy of the companies that help your nonprofit and educate the general public about your nonprofit and the work that you’re doing. Plus, the company’s employees feel good knowing that they work for a business that regularly gives back to causes that they feel deeply about. They’re a win for everyone involved!

For help on getting started forming partnerships, check out these best practices.

2. Use your nonprofit’s website to acknowledge corporate partners

Many donors are already using your organization’s website to make their donations. Why not use the opportunity to promote the generosity of the corporations that offer matching gift programs?
If you already have a dedicated matching gift page on your nonprofit’s website, add some information about companies that have outstanding matching gift programs to educate donors about doubling their donations while simultaneously thanking and acknowledging those companies.
If you don’t have a dedicated matching gift page on your website, set one up so that donors know exactly how they can maximize their donations and can research the companies that offer them.
Additionally, promoting your corporate partnerships and their matching gifts can help ensure that those partnerships thrive and continue down the line.
For ways to use ePhilanthropy to secure matching gifts, check out this article.

3. Recognize corporate partnerships and matching gift programs at events

Whether your nonprofit is hosting a gala, auction, walkathon, or other fundraising event, you can make the most of a captive audience to thank your corporate partners and laud the matching gift programs that they offer their employees.
Obviously, don’t overshadow the corporate sponsors that have made your fundraising event possible. But it’s a good idea to give a shout out to all of the companies that have helped your organization in one way or another.
When you publicly announce and promote the businesses that have assisted your nonprofit with their matching gift programs, you not only strengthen the existing nonprofit-company relationship that you have, but you also let other individuals know about matching gifts.

* * *

There are many benefits that nonprofit-corporate partnerships can produce. When those companies offer matching gift programs, your nonprofit is doubly rewarded. Recognizing your corporate partners online and in person is your nonprofit’s way of acknowledging their generosity and drawing attention to their outstanding matching gift programs.

Non-profits can do without the Pepsi-Starbucks-Chase-Kohls voting thing

Perhaps, you’ve had the same experience as I have had in the last few years . . . Your your favorite non-profit organizations ask you to please take a moment out of your busy day to “VOTE” for them in some for-profit company’s social media contest so that they might win “big bucks”. If so, then maybe the following describes your experience, too.

So, of course, I open a new browser window (possibly log into Facebook if that is where it is happening), migrate to the company’s voting page (e.g. the Pepsi Refresh Campaign), and start looking for instructions on how to help my favorite non-profit agency. In a flash, I’m being asked for personal information like my name, email address, waist size, hat size, and shoe size (yes, I am exaggerating, but am I really that far off???)

I close the browser and feel really good about doing something for my favorite charity. It didn’t even cost me a penny. Woo Hoo!!!

And then it happens . . .

The next day, the day after that, and the day after that . . . the charity keeps circling back to me with messages like:

  • We’re still behind in the voting and need you to do it again, AGAIN, a-g-a-i-n!!!!!
  • We need more help. Would you please post this opportunity on your Facebook page?
  • We still need more help. Would you please be proactive and ask everyone in your social network to get out there and vote for us.

UGH . . . Stop the insanity!!!!!!!!!!

This has gotten so bad in the last few years that it isn’t uncommon for me to be asked at least once per month by someone to do something like this. It is the Pepsi Refresh Project . . . American Express Members’ Project . . . Chase Community Giving. Currently, it is Starbuck’s “Vote.Give.Grow.” campaign.

This insane kind of corporate philanthropy has me so insane that I find myself doing crazy things like stealing table tents.

Yesterday, I met a friend at Starbucks, which is when I saw a table tent advertising the Vote.Give.Grow. campaign. I subtly looked about, grabbed the table tent, folded it in half and stuck it in my jacket. Why? I dunno . . . it was instinct, but I can tell you that I felt like I was striking a blow against “The Man” and trying to “Stop the insanity” in a very small way.

I told you . . . embarrassing behavior on my part! However, I think it speaks to something larger, which is why I’m blogging about it this morning.

A year ago, Forbes magazine wrote a story titled: “The Democratization Of Corporate Philanthropy“. In that article, they talked about the consequences of participating in a campaign like: “voter burnout and diverting resources” . However, I think this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Engaging your donor base in such a way does nothing to advance your mission or message. All you are doing is advancing the corporation’s marketing interests because they now have your donor’s personal information.

I also suspect that asking your donors to do something they might find annoying or offensive is counterintuitive to good donor stewardship. Rather than making your donors feel good about their investment in your mission and showing them the ROI around their contribution, they see you doing non-mission related work and advancing a for-profit organization’s agenda.

Hey donors! I have a better idea. Let’s focus on donating our own money and stop trying to spend other people’s money. Sure, you probably have a lot less than millions of dollars to giveaway, but I am fairly sure you’ll feel better about yourself if you invest the same amount of time in researching your charity of choice and writing them a personal check.

Perhaps, fundraising professionals would be better served by investing their time in helping donors find a sense of “self actualization” rather than helping corporations advance their marketing objectives and build their profit margins.

Am I off base on this? Is anyone else as annoyed as I am about these kind of voting programs attached to corporate philanthropy? Perhaps, we should organize a social media campaign aimed at stealing table tents that advertise these kinds of corporate philanthropy voting programs?!?! If you’re equally agitated about this subject, please scroll down and use the comment box to share your experiences and feelings. Additionally, please weigh-in on what you think other consequences might be for non-profits who participate in these kind of programs.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Taking a peek behind the corporate veil

Last week I had the honor and privilege of organizing and facilitating a general session at a Boys & Girls Club conference in Milwaukee. The title of the session was “Corporate Leaders & Philanthropy”.  For approximately an hour, conference attendees got an opportunity to take a peek behind the corporate curtain.

Serving on that panel was:

  • Craig Omtvedt, Senior VP & Chief Operating Officer of Fortune Brands
  • Paul Jones, Chairman & CEO of A.O. Smith
  • Matthew Levatich, President & Chief Operating Officer of Harley-Davidson Motor Company

I am extremely appreciative to these gentlemen for taking time out of their very busy schedules for serving on our panel and answering questions about cultivation, solicitation and stewardship. I cannot tell you how many non-profit leaders ask me questions about what they should do to become more effective at engaging corporations. So, last week’s session was a tremendous gift to the non-profit leaders in the Boys & Girls Club movement.

After taking the panel through four set questions, I invited the audience to submit their questions on paper. While I was able to get through another eight questions generated from the field, there were a ton of other written questions that I just couldn’t get around to asking due to time constraints. So, I thought I’d take the opportunity with today’s blog post to list some of those unasked questions and invite subscribers (aka YOU) and anyone else who views this blog via social media networks (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc) to weigh-in with their thoughts using the comment box located at the bottom of your screen.

Here are some of the remaining questions that I wish I had time to ask and hope you want to comment on:

  • What gestures have [non-profit] organizations made beyond outcome measurements that have [intrigued] your company to invest in them?
  • What can [our organization] do to distinguish itself from all the other charities out there in regards to requesting or receiving your support?
  • Given the current economic trends, how do you determine if you are able to sustain the same level of philanthropic support? What impacts that decision? What should non-profits know?
  • When reviewing requests [for funding] and you come to the organization’s financial statements, what do you look for? What turns you off? If [the financials] reflect that an organization is running or budgeted a deficit, is there anything the agency can do to engage that company in a strategy for pulling out of a deficit situation? Or is it a lost cause?
  • What are some of the key factors that you consider when deciding to continue funding to a particular organization?
  • What do you want non-profit organizations to stop doing in their approach that is ineffective or irritating to you as a funder?

I still have a pile of additional questions, but I’m running out of room. My thanks to those who took time to submit a question.

Regardless of whether you are a donor or a non-profit leader, please take a moment to process these questions and weigh-in with your thoughts. We can all learn from each other. You will find the comment box below if you scroll down.

I will leave you with some YouTube links I found when researching and preparing to facilitate this session. I included one or two of these links in my blog post on Wednesday titled “Corporate Philanthropy: He loves me — He loves me NOT“. But there are new videos that I’m also including. Enjoy and please take a moment to post a comment on this subject.

If you are a non-profit leader who still has a lot of questions about what happens behind the corporate veil, then why not pick-up the phone, set an appointment with a corporate leader in your community, and go ask those questions?  Engaging donors doesn’t start with a solicitation . . . it begins with asking questions and listening to their answers.

Here is to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847|

Corporate philanthropy: He loves me — He loves me NOT

Last week I facilitated a panel discussion about corporate philanthropy at a Boys & Girls Club regional conference in Milwaukee. Serving on that panel was a CEO, COO and CFO from two companies in the Fortune 500 and another company from the Fortune 1000. I personally had a great time interviewing those gentlemen, but later that evening I caught some of the news coverage about the Occupy Wall Street protests. Needless to say, it was a confusing day for me that represented quite a dichotomy.

When I feel this way, I typically like to retreat back to listing off simple facts and try to find some truth and clarity. Here are a few of those facts running through my head this morning:

  • Of the $300 billion given to charities every year, approximately 5-percent comes from corporations and more than 75% comes from individuals
  • There are CEOs who are committed to corporate responsibility and making our world a better place to live as seen in this YouTube video from the 2011 Board of Boards CEO conference.
  • There are individuals who are afraid of corporations and banks as you can see in this YouTube video of a 20-year-old Wall Street protester.
  • While corporations are legal structures without emotions, there are countless numbers of people behind the corporate veil who are living, breathing and compassionate.

From a charitable giving and non-profit perspective, I am always amazed at how aggressive we go after corporate sponsorship and donations even though the statistics don’t seem to justify that strategy. After giving this some thought, I’ve concluded the following two things:

  1. Non-profit volunteer solicitors must feel more uncomfortable talking to individuals about making a donation than even I thought possible.
  2. Non-profit volunteers exhibit this sense of “entitlement” when talking to corporations about charitable giving. (e.g. corporations “owe” this charitable money to our non-profit organizations because we shop at their stores every day and give them our hard-earned money).

If my two conclusions are “on the mark,” then non-profit leaders have a problem on their hands, and I assure you that things are not going to end well. Regardless of how much we cross our fingers and wish, these two things will NOT change: 1) corporations will not suddenly find more money to give away (go back and listen to the CEO conference video very carefully) and 2) individuals will always be the at the heart of a successful charitable giving program.

Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. Don’t stop engaging corporate America . . . continue writing grants, asking for contributions and sponsorships, and building partnerships. However, you need to keep perspective and your eyes on the prize. Listen carefully to this corporate philanthropy manager and I suspect you will come to the realization that your corporate philanthropy strategy can drive the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING to your resource development plans — increased individual giving and support.

Non-profit leaders need to pick themselves up off the ground, put the daisy down and stop singing songs related to: “She loves me, she loves me not“. We need to start LEADING and understand that corporate leaders need to make tough decisions around their limited charitable giving budgets. CEOs want to see return on investment, but even more so, they want their non-profit partners to help them engage their employees and advance their brand.

Additionally, non-profit leaders need to double down on training and working with their fundraising volunteers. We need to help these people get over their fear associated with soliciting individuals. We also need to help them let go of their entitlement attitudes around corporate philanthropy. These two things won’t happen without your leadership, and this paradigm shift must occur if your non-profit organization is going to get healthy during these tough economic times.

So, please feel free to go down to the Wall Street protests in your community, pick-up a sign and march to your heart’s content. It is quintessentially American to do so if you feel that way about the state of our economy and corporate America. However, you ALSO need to figure out how to build bridges to your corporate partners that will enable you to walk their employees (and your future donors) across that bridge and towards your organization’s mission.

Here is to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847|