If you’re a frequent reader of FirstGiving’s blog you may have come across our article on four types of corporate giving programs. Of the four, volunteer grants are the least utilized, yet have significant potential for nonprofits, especially those that have a run/walk/ride component.
Volunteer grants can benefit organizations of all sizes which are looking for increased corporate giving all while encouraging additional volunteerism.
What are Corporate Volunteer Grants?
Corporate volunteer grants are philanthropic programs created by companies to encourage employees to give their time to local nonprofits. If you’ve heard of “Dollar for Doer” programs, they are one and the same. Almost all schools and 501(c)(3) nonprofits are eligible.
The general structure of a volunteer grant program is for a company to make a monetary contribution to a nonprofit where an employee volunteers on a regular basis. This grant amount is usually based on the number of hours volunteered and averages $8-$15 per hour.
How do Volunteer Grants work?
The process of submitting a volunteer grant involves five steps:
- An individual volunteers with your nonprofit just like he or she would otherwise.
- The volunteer is made aware that his or her company may provide a grant for the volunteerism. Make sure you’re marketing employee giving programs to your supporters!
- The volunteer fills out the volunteer grant paperwork. This is a five minute process that involves logging the hours volunteered, entering personal information (name, employee ID number, etc.), and submitting the form to the company. Often this is done using an online system.
- Some companies request verification from the nonprofit that the employee actually volunteered. If you’ve ever verified a matching gift by logging into Causecast’s Corporate Philanthropy platform or a site like Easymatch or Cybergrants, the process is very similar.
- The company issues a volunteer grant check.
How do volunteer grants complement peer-to-peer fundraising?
Individuals who reach out to friends and family are some of an organization’s most passionate supporters. If your nonprofit hasn’t already targeted these individuals as ones who could become long-term volunteers, you should! An easy way to broach the subject is by highlighting the extra funds that could be donated based upon their volunteerism.
So take a few minutes to figure out how you can incorporate volunteer grants into your peer-to-peer fundraising.
Who offers volunteer grant programs?
While Dollar for Doer programs are often underutilized by corporate employees, they’re still a widely offered and valuable giving program for nonprofits. Programs are offered by leading companies across all industries. For instance:
- Wal-Mart provides $250 grants to nonprofits where employees volunteer 25 hours. The grant is upped to $500 for employees who volunteer 50 hours in a year.
- Adobe provides $125 for every 10 hours an employee volunteers. Each employee is eligible for up to $2,500 in volunteer grants each year.
- Credit Suisse provides $500 grants once an employee volunteers for at least 50 hours in a twelve month period.
And there are countless of other companies offering similar programs. For a list of top corporations with volunteer grant programs, click here.
If you’re a nonprofit with a large number of volunteers, make sure to encourage everyone to submit volunteer grants!
Post contributed by Adam Weinger, President of Double the Donation’s Employee Giving Service for nonprofits.
Image credit: eraucso
Branding is a major component of any nonprofit, however sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. Whether you've already brainstormed some ideas for your nonprofit brand or you haven't begun this journey yet, fear not! We have outlined 4 simple steps that will help you get started in creating and sustaining a successful brand.
Have you designed a logo yet? What does your logo look like? What is the color, font, and background representing to your audience? Logos are a major visual component for any nonprofit and work to communicate something memorable to potential donors. Taking some time to construct a creative yet simple logo will pay off. The brands below, albeit they aren’t nonprofits, are some of the most recognizable brands in the world today. They are so well known, that the logos themselves don’t even need to have the company name attached. Wouldn't it be great if people could recognize your brand in a drop of a hat?
image credit: beatrizzuniga
The value of your organization lies in the mission statement. What is it that your nonprofit is looking to achieve? Most importantly, why is this cause or organization important to your company and coworkers? A short but sweet mission statement will help communicate your brands, and thus your nonprofit’s, ideas and goals.
Be consistent with your brand! Once you craft that logo and solidify your value/mission statement, make sure you're consistently portraying them to the world. Your logo should be the same wherever it’s seen. Your vision should be clear to all potential donors.
Personality is vital to your brand. It's what expresses the essence of your nonprofit organization to the world in a unique and one of a kind way. Any component of your nonprofit website or page should convey the emotion and personality that only you have! Don't be afraid to be creative, fun, and relatable. This will help separate your blogs, social media, and overall content from that of all the other nonprofits out there. While some Brands such as Mercedes Benz, and Cartier represent luxury and wealth as part of their personality, other brands such as Dove and Hershey represent honesty and integrity as a part of their brand.
What is your nonprofit brand's personality? Start by thinking “If my brand were a person, how would I want the world to describe them?” This will get your brand personality headed in the right direction.
So why should you care?
Brands that are successful can create brand loyalty and awareness that increases audience and revenue. If you work toward a nonprofit brand that is clear and memorable, it can make all the difference in how your cause is perceived with potential donors, fundraisers and for future events.
How can you make your brand represent your nonprofit? What will potential donors and fundraisers think when they see your brand? What will your brand say to the world?
We believe in giving back. It’s why we’re proud to introduce FirstGiving Cares. FirstGiving Cares is a new initiative where we adopt a unique national cause every month. We want to do everything we can to raise awareness for the causes our nonprofits and individual fundraisers feel so passionate about. After all, your cause is our cause. It’s why we started this journey in the first place.
Autism Awareness will be Aprils cause. Join us.
We believe in you. We believe in us.
-The FirstGiving Family
Do you ever find yourself in a teaching role? Nonprofits are often tasked with teaching their supporters. From event registration, page creation, to sending emails, your supporters often need step-by-step guides.
Pedagogy (the theory of teaching) suggests a simple 3 step process - I do, we do, and you do. If followed correctly, you should be able to teach your supporters any reasonable technical task in 3 simple steps.
1. I do
Show your supporters the task you’d like them to master. If you’re teaching individuals how to ask for donations, you must show them first how to do it and do it well. Consider this the “I do” phase because you, the nonprofit (I), are doing it. Remember the saying, monkey see, monkey do? This is kinda like that. Make sure what your supporters are modeling their actions after is exactly what you want.
Show your supporters a step by step process on how to ask for a donation. Does this mean starting with “why?” Publishing a demo video? An email? Show them.
2. We do
Now you must bring your supporters into the process. You must do the task together. Walk them through the process. This is “guided” learning - a way to ensure they model their actions after yours. Ask for a donation together. This may take a while so you might have to do it 1, 2, maybe 20 times. Please be patient.
3. You do
Now ask your supporters to do the task alone. Request that they ask for a donation. Let them work out the kinks. If they haven’t mastered the task, go back to step 2. Don’t let them go until they can do step 3 all by themselves. Remember the “you” is the supporter.
Simple enough? What will you teach your supporters to do?
Photo Courtesy NathanRussel 2008
Never underestimate the power of post-event donations. You’d be amazed with the numbers we’ve seen come in after an event has passed. The best part? This big change only takes a little push! Send out targeted emails the day after an event to update supporters on your fundraising goal. Remember, you should be thanking your supporters every step of the way. However once the event has passed, ask them to continue fundraising Try it! For greatest impact, send these reminder emails 1 week, 2 weeks, and 1 month after the event.
See the difference a little push can make:
Unsure of what to say? Consider the following message template:
Dear (SUPPORT NAME),
Thank you SO much for all of your hard work fundraising for us and for coming out to the race yesterday! Your efforts have led to our most successful fundraising event to date, raising a total of (AMOUNT RAISED)! We all had a great time! Check out our photos and top finishers here (LINK). We have big plans for using this funding, including (DETAILS)...
With that said, we’re hoping to dig a little deeper before the end of the week. You’ve done a truly amazing job fundraising so far with a total of (AMOUNT RAISED) on your fundraising page! We would invite you to send out one more request to friends and family asking for any last donations. If you can hit the $1,000 goal mark on your page, it will get us closer to our overall goal of $150,000. This additional funding will provide:
• Example 1
• Example 2
• Example 3
We cannot thank you enough for all of your efforts and continued support!
Your supporters may need a little help with messaging as well. Consider crafting a template message for them as well :)
Photo Courtesy rightee 2007
Your nonprofit is a brand like it or not. And though social media has humanized brands significantly, the fact still stands, your nonprofit is an organization, not an individual. Don’t worry, that’s not a bad thing. Humanizing your brand helps build credibility and ultimately helps your promotional needs. This is marketing. (Remember, marketing and nonprofits aren’t sworn enemies, they’re best buds.)
Your evangelists will promote you better than you ever will - empower them!
Who do you think will persuade a potential supporter better, an unknown brand or a best friend? Who will be more credible? Whose recommendation will they take first? The best friend will win 9 out of 10 times. Does this mean you should fire your marketing team? Absolutely not. This means your marketing team should focus on building relationships with your evangelists. Your team should build tools to empower them. How can your marketing team help make these evangelists more effective?
Engagement comes before empowerment
Does this mean sending these evangelists personal emails? Encouraging them to fundraise? Inviting them to a brainstorming breakfast? Engagement comes before empowerment. Once they’re engaged, ask them how you can empower them. They will talk, you should listen.
What do bees and smart nonprofits have in common? They both craft sweet n’ sticky content. The difference? Bees make honey, you craft engaging content. If your nonprofit is having difficulty retaining supporters, maybe your honey is not as sweet n’ sticky as you thought. Maybe you’re not producing the right flavor of honey to begin with. Maybe your honey is attracting the wrong crowd.Smart nonprofits craft engaging content:
Engaging content attracts the right audience to your nonprofit. It’s a magnet for qualified, sympathetic listeners. Does your nonprofit want 10 active cause ambassadors or 100 passive listeners? Don’t make honey for the masses, make it for the passionate, active, and engaged.Captivating content is sweet:
Sweetness will attract an audience. How will your honey stand out from the rest of the hive’s product? The better the quality your nonprofit produces, the greater the audience you’ll have. How sweet is your honey?Engaging content is sticky:
Attracting an audience is only half the battle, keeping them engaged is the other. Like honey, your content needs to be sticky. Your sweet honey may have brought 100 tasters to your site but stickiness will keep the active 10 wanting more.Sweet n’ sticky honey is sharable honey:
The 10 active cause ambassadors will want to share your honey. Why wouldn’t they? This feeds the soul. These 10 will eventually bring 100. The 100 will bring 1000 and the base will continue to grow and grow.
The question you have to ask yourself is, would you rather 100 passive listeners or 1000 active cause ambassadors? Be a nonprofit bee - craft sweet n’ sticky content honey!
Photo Courtesy kathryn_rotondo 2008
Social media is a relationship tool. When dealing with relationships, think quality over quantity. It’s about effectiveness, not efficiency. If you’re worried about having a presence on every social media network, stop. It’s better that your nonprofit does well on Facebook than poorly on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Google+ combined. Only take on more when you’re ready.Quality rises to the top
There’s a lot of digital noise out there. Only quality will shine through. Just think, you can publish a ton of posts in a week that will never break through the clutter or you can craft a single, perfect post that will cut through and get the attention it deserves. At the end of the week, your nonprofit can have no hits or one great hit.
It’s about finding the right balance between quality and quantity. After all, we’re in an attention economy deficit.
Photo Courtesy damian_hunt 2009
A well oiled content calendar will do wonders for your nonprofit’s communication plan. Like most things, it’s about setting a proper foundation. Here’s how to set up an engaging content calendar for your nonprofit.Figure out what resources you can dedicate to creating content
Here’s where you set expectations. How many staff members will be contributing to content creation? How often? Do you have visual resources at your disposal? Is your organization social media savvy? How easily can you change your website? Do you know how to schedule emails in advance?
Learn who your audience is. What do they need?
Engaging content is relative. What’s engaging to one person will be boring for another. You must learn who your audience is and craft to their demographics and needs. What problem are you trying to solve? How will you help them? How will you give them value?
Find out where your audience is and how they consume
Part of learning who your audience is means learning where they interact and how they consume. Do they spend time on Facebook? Instagram? Are they weekend readers? Do they prefer video to text? Once you understand their consumption habits, you can craft content. You wouldn’t send out a mailing to a bunch of teenagers would you?Create a reasonable schedule
Once you have taken a resource inventory and learned your audience, you must set reasonable expectations. Engaging content is quality content. This is a quality over quantity game. Don’t commit to a blog post a day if you can’t deliver on it. It’s better to have one high quality blog post a week than five sub par ones.
Outline content goals
Alright, you know your resources and audience and have created a reasonable schedule, now it’s time to outline some goals. What do you want your content to do? Are you creating a donation campaign? Are you creating awareness push? Is your nonprofit hosting a fun run and you need to keep your fundraisers engaged? What are the goals? If you can attach solid metrics to your goals, the better.
Share your calendar internally
An engaging content calendar takes into consideration organizational wide announcements, investments, and other big moments. It’s about synergy here. Those who are responsible for creating content must know the developments in the nonprofit as well as the audience. The content you create will be the bridge connecting the two.
Here’s a sample of a potential Wednesday:
This can easily be built out to create a month’s content calendar. Will you send emails once a week? Blog twice a week? Post to Facebook
twice everyday? What makes sense for your nonprofit?
Photo Courtesy photosteve101 2010
This blog shouldn’t be about us. It should be about you. However every once in awhile we feel as though we need to bring to your attention a new FirstGiving feature we built just for you.FirstGiving is now integrated with Eventbrite!
We’re excited to announce FirstGiving’s integration with Eventbrite.
Nonprofits now have access to Eventbrite ticket sales data through their FirstGiving dashboard. Organizations will also be able to import Eventbrite event attendees into their FirstGiving email campaigns.
Nonprofits will now be able to:
- manage event donations in one place
- convert attendees to fundraisers
- consolidate contact information
Eventbrite for Causes
also offers reduced rates to 501(c)(3) organizations!
Interested in learning more about FirstGiving's integration with Eventbrite?