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Why are Organizations Looking to Corporate Giving to Meet Fundraising Needs

March 25, 2024 (6 min read)
Organizations are increasingly turning to corporate philanthropy to meet fundraising goals.

Institutions that rely on fundraising for their typical operations continually get more creative about finding donors. Whether that’s a shift to social media for fundraising efforts or changing the target list of donors, non-profits are tasked with keeping up with new trends in fundraising to stay ahead of the competition.

One such trend is the shift toward corporate sponsorship. More and more institutions have begun to partner with large corporations, through efforts like Corporate Responsibility Programs, and this is only predicted to rise in the coming years.

Here, we outline everything that institutions should know about looking toward corporate sponsorship to meet giving needs, and how it compares to traditional donor prospecting.

Traditional donor prospecting vs. corporate giving

A major difference between corporate sponsorship and individual donors lies within the way in which an institution finds their target donors. Donor prospecting has been the way most nonprofits discover new donors and understand the potential of their past donors, and that relies heavily on understanding an individual’s wealth and career path.

In contrast, corporate giving requires understanding a corporation’s ethos and willingness to participate in philanthropy, which can also take a lot of research. Here are brief explanations of both sides of the coin:

What is traditional donor prospecting?

Historically, nonprofits have gone after individual donors who show patterns of philanthropy. This typically happens through a process called donor prospecting, in which the institutions use tools like Nexis® for Development Professionals, which allow fundraising teams to create donor profiles that screen for a person’s wealth, donation patterns, and much more.

Consider a human services nonprofit that advocates for better mental health access in urban areas. They might research national donors who have historically given money to similar causes and organizations and use that information to build their own list for outreach. From there, they could also use Nexis to create profiles for each individual and examine their wealth, through career data and news alerts.

What is corporate giving?

Corporate giving substitutes individual donors with entire corporations. Companies select nonprofits that align with their mission, or simply do good in the world, and provide funds as well as other resources. In many cases, the corporation helps its internal employees to volunteer or donate, so this could result in thousands of individual relationships.

Tapping into corporate giving requires a nonprofit to perform prospect research about corporations and their missions. That could require looking into the brand’s mission, meeting with leadership, or simply examining what other charitable organizations they’ve partnered with in the past, essentially building a donor profile not too dissimilar from traditional donor prospecting.

MORE: 6 quick tips for qualifying potential donors

What are the types of corporate giving?

Once a corporation decides to pair with a particular institution, there are many options for what corporate giving can look like. One common avenue is matching gifts, in which the company matches each employee’s donation to a particular cause. For example, if an employee donates $50 to a cancer research fund and provides proof of the donation, their employer will donate $50 to the same organization, doubling the impact. Some companies have a “cap” on donations and sometimes corporations give more than a 100% match, even doubling or tripling employee efforts.

Another major type of corporate giving happens through volunteering. Corporations might give all employees a paid day off so they can volunteer at select nonprofits, or even provide grants for their nonprofit partners to find new volunteers. This can help local nonprofits grow their volunteer base and result in more passionate supporters who might otherwise have never learned about the organization.

How do corporate sponsorships work?

Another type of corporate giving is corporate sponsorships, in which a company provides funds for a nonprofit directly. This is most commonly seen when nonprofits host events. If you’ve been to a fundraising 5K run, for instance, you might have seen corporate logos on the back of every runner’s shirt, indicating that those companies helped make the event happen.

In this case, corporations will partner will nonprofits ahead of time to donate and help coordinate an event. Though this is commonly an exchange of funds, the corporation might also provide catering, gift bags, and other benefits for attendees that also help that corporation raise awareness.

MORE: How donor prospecting technology can streamline your workflow

Why corporate giving is rising

There is no doubt that corporate giving is on the rise; the donations from corporations to non-profits increased in the last year, now totaling over $20 billion annually. The website Double the Donation, dedicated to donor matching statistics and research, posits that this rise is due to “an increased focus on corporate social responsibility from both employees and consumers.”

Consumers have begun to demand more from their favorite companies: from DEI efforts to eco-friendly policies, customers want to spend their money at places that are doing good in the world. Philanthropy is a win-win for nonprofits and corporations alike, and it can also appeal to employees who benefit from matching programs and the ability to volunteer during work hours so they, too, can feel they are making a difference.

Importance of corporate giving for your organization

From a nonprofit standpoint, there are myriad benefits to corporate giving. Corporations can bring awareness to a nonprofit, including their donations in marketing and encouraging consumers and employees to donate and volunteer. Corporate sponsorships can make fundraising events financially feasible and can ensure a steadier flow of donations than a typical individual donor.

Because corporations hold such power and continue to thrive in an otherwise unstable economy, they tend to be reliable sources of income for nonprofits. In 2024, corporate giving has become so ubiquitous that nonprofits would be greatly benefitted by finding their own ways to partner with corporations.

MORE: Attracting a new generation of donors

Best practices for securing corporate support

The final piece of this puzzle is finding out how to secure this type of support. One common way that nonprofits find corporate sponsors is through their Board members, who often have connections within their industry. Consider speaking with the Board, and other people affiliated with your organization, to see what kind of network is already at your fingertips.

Another method is through writing a letter to the corporation explaining your nonprofit’s mission and how that aligns with the company. This can be extra successful when you include incentives like publicizing a company’s logo at your events, allowing the company to market their philanthropic efforts, and free tickets to your well-known fundraisers.

You can also use tools like the Nexis for Development Professionals to see what corporations would be good to reach out to, based on their patterns of sponsorship and their missions.

For more insight into why corporate donations continue to be a priority for nonprofits, explore the LexisNexis 2024 State of Donor Prospecting Report.