In today’s socially-conscious age, more businesses than ever before are providing support to nonprofits and their communities. In fact, 85% of companies in the United States have a formal domestic corporate giving program. There are many different forms of corporate philanthropy that businesses can offer your nonprofit, from sponsorships to in-kind donations. However, if you’re seeking a combination of donations and volunteer support, volunteer grants can be especially impactful for your mission.
Volunteer grants are a type of corporate giving initiative in which companies provide monetary grants to nonprofits where their employees regularly volunteer. This earns your nonprofit critical volunteer support and funding while giving businesses a boost in their philanthropic reputations.
In this guide, we’ll cover how your nonprofit can begin receiving volunteer grants to further your mission:
- Encourage existing supporters to check their eligibility
- Expand your corporate volunteering partnerships
- Create engaging volunteer opportunities
By proactively seeking out this form of corporate philanthropy, you can maximize the monetary and non-monetary support needed to power change in your community. Let’s begin.
Encourage existing supporters to check their eligibility
Plenty of companies offer volunteer grants to their employees, and chances are, you might already have volunteers who are eligible through their employers but simply aren’t aware. This can cause nonprofits to leave free fundraising dollars on the table, making it more difficult to see their nonprofit strategic plan through.
One of the best ways to tap into volunteer grants is by educating your volunteers about this opportunity and encouraging them to check their eligibility. A strong multichannel marketing strategy can help you get the word out about this impactful form of corporate support, so consider advertising volunteer grants on your:
- Website: If your nonprofit has a dedicated page about volunteer opportunities, make sure to spotlight volunteer grants there and clearly explain how current volunteers can check their eligibility. For example, you might invest in a volunteer grant database that allows volunteers to simply type in the name of their employer in a search bar and immediately get an answer as to whether they’re eligible. You can also author a blog post on your website that goes into greater depth about what volunteer grants are, how volunteers can use them to play a deeper role in your mission and the different ways they can secure them.
- Email: In your monthly email newsletter, give a shout-out to current volunteers and companies who contribute volunteer grants to your nonprofit. This will not only help your contributors feel appreciated for their efforts, but will also pique the interest of current and prospective volunteers who are looking for new ways to connect with your mission. You can also survey your current volunteers for questions about volunteer grants and then answer these FAQs in a segmented email stream just for volunteers.
- Social media: Create an engaging social media campaign that educates your followers on volunteer grants and how they can secure them for your organization. For example, you might create a video with instructions on completing this process from current volunteers who contribute grants. You could also create engaging infographics that walk followers step-by-step through how to earn grants.
Every company has a different policy when it comes to volunteer grants (such as donating per hour a volunteer gives or donating when a volunteer meets a certain hourly threshold), so prompt your followers to check their employers’ specific requirements if they have a grant program.
Expand your corporate volunteering partnerships
Your nonprofit may already have an agreement with a local business to receive corporate volunteering support. However, to capitalize on this, you can request that your corporate partner additionally offers volunteer grants in exchange for their employees’ hard work at your organization. This way, you’ll not only receive the help of skilled volunteers, but can also earn donations to power your mission.
To demonstrate to your corporate partner that offering volunteer grants is worth their resources, highlight these key benefits:
- Greater employee satisfaction: Employees will be able to play a more rewarding role in your nonprofit’s mission since each hour they volunteer translates into revenue. As a result, they’ll feel a greater sense of purpose and personal fulfillment, increasing their satisfaction with their employer. This will make it easier for your corporate partner to retain their employees over time.
- Ability to attract new talent: Through providing volunteer grants, your corporate partner demonstrates to job prospects that it cares about its social impact and wants to create more good in the world. Your partner can highlight its corporate volunteering program and volunteer grants in its job listings to help bring in socially-conscious applicants.
- Tax incentives: By offering corporate volunteering alone, your partner is missing out on a key benefit: tax deductions for charitable contributions. This helps your corporate partner save funds in the long run all while making a difference in your community.
Meet with your corporate partner to discuss your financial needs and how a volunteer grant program would push you closer to meeting your goals (and will benefit their company). This transparency will help strengthen your relationship and may earn you additional monetary support through grants.
Create engaging volunteer opportunities
A key part of securing volunteer grants is motivating eligible employees to volunteer at your organization on a regular basis. This means you need to develop an engaging volunteer program that meets their interests and naturally aligns with their skills. After all, volunteers who are passionate and excited about their roles are more likely to support your nonprofit year after year, translating into more support and revenue for your mission.
To develop a quality volunteer program that will inspire your corporate volunteers, use these best practices:
- Survey their interests: Ask volunteers directly about the areas of your nonprofit’s cause that excites them and the skills they’re hoping to develop or hone. Then, use this information to match them with roles that will not only serve their interests, but will also help to advance your mission.
- Provide training: Prepare your corporate volunteers to take on their roles by leading orientation and training meetings. During your orientation, introduce your nonprofit, its values and general expectations for volunteers. You should also offer more specific training meetings based on the different roles your corporate volunteers will be leading. For instance, you might lead a meeting that overviews your stewardship plan for corporate volunteers helping with donor engagement.
- Offer group-based opportunities: Corporate volunteering is a great opportunity for employees at the same business to get to know one another better, promote collaboration and improve productivity in the workplace. Instead of only offering individual opportunities, create group volunteering shifts that encourage large groups of employees from your corporate partner to work together in support of your goals. For example, an animal shelter might lead group walks where multiple volunteers walk dogs at the same time. To ensure your group volunteering opportunities align with your corporate volunteers’ interests, refer back to their survey responses.
Make sure to regularly express volunteer appreciation so your corporate volunteers feel recognized and seen for their efforts. For example, you might send handwritten thank-you notes, invite volunteers to an appreciation dinner or spotlight your corporate volunteers on social media. All of these practices can go a long way in retaining corporate support for your nonprofit.
Volunteer grants make volunteers even more valuable to your organization, helping you to receive both non-monetary and monetary support to drive your fundraising goals forward. Do your due diligence to promote volunteer grants among your existing volunteers and current corporate partners to maximize their impact. Then, regularly check in with your volunteers so you can improve your volunteer program as needed to retain their support.