Learn the basics of cause marketing for businesses.

Cause Marketing FAQ and Examples – Nonprofit Catalog

Now more than ever, people want the businesses they support to be socially responsible. In fact, 86% of consumers believe companies should take a public stance on social issues. 

In response to these expectations, many companies are creating social responsibility programs to publicly give back. These programs can include volunteer grants for employees, matching gift programs, and cause marketing campaigns. 

What is cause marketing?

Cause marketing, also referred to as cause related marketing, is a business practice in which a company publicly allies themselves with a social cause. Companies often choose a cause related to the product or service they sell, and they may partner with a nonprofit organization to promote their mission.

What are the types of cause marketing?

Companies use two main types of cause marketing:

  1. The business partners with a specific nonprofit organization to promote their work. They foster a mutually beneficial relationship in which the company gains the benefits of cause marketing and the nonprofit gets access to a wider audience.
  2. The business promotes a cause or runs a social good campaign independently. In this case, the company works to further a cause relevant to their product or service, without any direct involvement with a specific nonprofit. 

These two variations can both yield positive results. Both types of cause marketing offer benefits for the corporation and any communities affected by the cause.

Cause marketing can involve a partnership with a nonprofit or an independently run campaign.

What are the benefits of cause related marketing?

Just as nonprofits work to create authentic, positive branding, for-profit companies need the public to perceive them well to generate sales. In addition to improving public perception of their brand, cause marketing can improve a company’s relationship with their audience, employee satisfaction, and brand loyalty. 

Cause marketing also benefits nonprofits by giving them access to the company’s audience, leading to an increase in potential donors and funds.

Cause marketing examples

Before you get started with your own campaign, research successful cause related marketing examples to get a clear idea of the ways you can approach your campaign, such as:

  • EyeBuyDirect’s Buy One Give One campaignThis prescription glasses company will donate a pair of glasses to someone in need for every purchase. Promoting accessible vision correctors clearly aligns with EyeBuyDirect’s product and improves their brand in the eyes of customers. 
  • Microsoft’s Nonprofit Ad Grants programIn recent years, Microsoft launched an initiative to give up to $3,000 of free online advertising to eligible nonprofits on a monthly basis. This program helps a wide range of nonprofits further their individual missions, and it showcases Microsoft’s commitment to helping nonprofits enact change.

These are just a few examples to give you an idea of the impact cause marketing can make. Research cause marketing initiatives from businesses in your sector to learn more specific ways that your industry impacts social good.

How to launch a cause marketing campaign

For companies

Feeling inspired? Spend some time brainstorming the types of social causes your company would be interested in marketing, then follow these steps:

  1. Determine a relevant cause to support.
  2. Evaluate your goals, budget, and audience preferences. 
  3. Develop a plan for your involvement, including if you’ll partner with a nonprofit or work independently.
  4. Start promoting your campaign!

Once your campaign begins, make sure to encourage audience participation at every opportunity. Your customers or clients will be the driving force behind your cause marketing campaign, so target their interests and engage with them directly.

For nonprofits

Interested in finding a corporate sponsor to partner with? Research companies with social impact initiatives that align with your mission. Look for opportunities to start a relationship, and remember that both your organization and the business will benefit!

Additional Resources

Nonprofit event planning can give your organization the momentum it needs to run a successful event.

Nonprofit Event Planning — Nonprofit Catalog

Nonprofit events are a valuable way to reach supporters and keep them involved in your organization, but how do you get started? That’s where nonprofit event planning comes in. As CharityBid’s all-in-one guide to nonprofit event planning points out, being organized in your efforts from the beginning sets your event up for success. Nonprofit event planning helps you keep track of your goals and unites your entire team to work towards greater supporter engagement, a high return on investment, and an overall memorable event that will retain supporters in the long run.

What is nonprofit event planning?

Nonprofit event planning is the best way to maximize your event’s success. This process involves laying out clear goals, the specific ways you’ll achieve them, and how you’ll measure progress.

If you rush through event planning, you won’t have a clear roadmap for success and likely won’t receive a return on your investment. A haphazardly-planned event may also leave supporters with a bad impression of your organization, causing you to lose out on key support.

Instead, set yourself up for fundraising success by engaging in nonprofit event planning.

Great nonprofit event planning has several benefits.

A well-planned nonprofit event has multiple benefits.

  • Gives you a clear roadmap. Effective event planning minimizes stress for everyone. You and your team will operate better if everyone has a solid understanding of the objectives to work towards.
  • Helps your nonprofit’s team be on the same page. Clear communication of expectations and roles will help your team feel confident in how to move forward.
  • Increases productivity. It takes less time to form a plan at the beginning of the process than to confront challenges and confusion in team member responsibilities down the road.
  • Opportunity to assess results. When you have a plan that you’re following and adjusting as needed based on donor engagement and other relevant factors, it’s easier to take stock of what is and isn’t working. If you don’t collect data and analyze your progress, your team may be prone to unnecessarily repeat the same mistakes next time.

While event planning takes time and effort, it will be well-worth it to reach your fundraising and engagement goals.

Nonprofit event planning steps

Since nonprofit event planning is essential to running a successful event, be sure to take ample time to form your plan and discuss it with your team. Let’s explore some steps to help you get started.

1. Determine your event objectives.

A good place to start is deciding what your goals are for the event. These will be tailored to your organization’s mission and current needs. For example, consider the following objectives:

  • Fundraising goal
  • Number of donors in attendance
  • Number of new donors you hope to acquire
  • Average gift size

The more specific your goals are, the better. You’ll also want to provide a timeline for your event and when you hope to reach certain milestones by. Clearly outlining your goals and their priority levels will allow you to shape your event to effectively meet them.

2. Create an event planning committee.

Dividing planning responsibilities among team members with clearly defined roles is key to a successful event. Assemble your event planning committee in advance of your event by reaching out to devoted donors, volunteers, board members, and staff. To ensure that you have the right team, provide an accurate description of the responsibilities and time commitment needed, so that everyone will work productively towards achieving your goals.

3. Decide on your event budget and timeline.

Create a budget based on your event’s goals and purpose. If you’re working with a limited budget, you can look for other funding sources like corporate sponsors, or choose a cost-friendly event idea that allows you to maximize your ROI.

Give yourself substantial time to plan your event because you don’t want to be rushed in the process. Your proposed timeline should be reasonable based on the scale of your event. For instance, if you’re planning an in-person gala for hundreds of supporters, you’ll need several months to book a venue and catering, and to plan other essential details. Planning your nonprofit event well in advance will also allow you time to boost excitement among attendees, and to fundraise before the event itself.

4. Identify your target audience for the event.

Know who you are trying to reach with your nonprofit event. What kinds of events or activities would that audience be interested in? Create an event attendee persona, and keep this person in mind as you plan an event tailored to their needs and interests.

5. Determine how you’ll raise money during your event.

Whether it’s selling tickets before the event or hosting auction activities during the event itself, you’ll need a revenue stream to reach your fundraising goals. Customize your fundraising approach to your target audience to increase the likelihood that they’ll give. For example, if your audience often donates via text-to-give in large numbers, create a text-to-give campaign leading up to your event and on the day-of to boost donations.

6. Make all nonprofit event arrangements.

For an in-person event, book your venue ahead of time, consider your catering options, and settle on entertainment that is within your budget and would appeal to your audience. Planning virtual events will look slightly different and require you to think about other event components. For example, instead of a venue and catering, you’ll need technology solutions that will allow your organization to livestream, offer options for attendees to interact with each other, and allow you to incorporate other immersive elements to keep supporters engaged.

7. Market your nonprofit event.

Start promoting your event well in advance to increase the buzz surrounding it, and to encourage supporters to sign up as soon as possible. To expand your reach, take a multichannel marketing approach with platforms like email, social media, and your nonprofit’s website. In your marketing materials, provide the basic event details, the purpose behind your event, and a registration link to facilitate an easy sign-up process.

8. Recruit volunteers to help run your event.

You’ll need volunteers to lend a hand towards organizing, running, and cleaning up after your event is over. Designate a specific member of your event planning committee to coordinate your volunteer recruitment and onboarding efforts. Be sure volunteer roles are clearly defined so that they know what to expect, then remember to send volunteers a thank you letter afterwards expressing your gratitude!

9. Plan your follow-up activities.

Connect with supporters while your organization is still on their minds. In addition to sending thank you notes to those in attendance, offer ways that supporters can learn more about your mission and stay involved in your nonprofit.

You’ll also want to reflect on your results and whether you hit your fundraising objectives. This will help you understand how you can optimize your events for the future.

By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to planning and hosting a successful nonprofit event!

Additional Resources

In this post, you'll learn the basics of search engine optimization for nonprofits.

Search Engine Optimization for Nonprofits—Nonprofit Catalog

Your nonprofit website is a great asset for marketing your mission. But it won’t do your organization much good unless people can find it! Search engine optimization is an essential tool for driving traffic to your website. It can help you connect with donors, volunteers, and people interested in your cause.

What is search engine optimization for nonprofits?

Search engine optimization is the process of fine-tuning your nonprofit website to perform better on search engines like Google so that more people will see your website and be able to engage with it.

Search engines like Google use bots to crawl every web page and determine where it will rank on search engine results pages (SERPs) based on a variety of factors. While some factors used to determine rankings are withheld from the public, we do know that quality, keyword usage, page structure, and usefulness to visitors all play a role. Keeping that in mind, it’s worth taking the time to optimize your website in those areas.

Competition with other websites, your location, and technical SEO are a few other elements that can have an impact on a nonprofit website’s SEO. While SERP rankings is a complex topic with numerous variables to consider, just knowing some basic strategies can be a great way to start improving your pages’ rankings.

Why do nonprofits need SEO?

One of the main purposes of SEO is to increase organic traffic. This is the traffic that comes from people who click on your website after putting a search term into a search engine like Google. Organic traffic is different from paid traffic (like Google Ad Grants or other ads) and social traffic, in that your website has to deliver what the user is trying to find.

Additionally, 53% of website traffic is organic traffic, so it’s well worth nonprofits’ time and effort to become SEO savvy. More visibility and brand awareness will lead to more support in a variety of areas. That can mean more volunteers, event attendees, or donations. To support your nonprofit, people need to be able to easily find it.

5 SEO Strategies to Implement On Your Website Today

Don’t let SEO overwhelm you. It’s useful to start with a few SEO strategies, see how well they work out, and then move from there. Here are a few key areas where you can easily implement some easy fixes.

This graphic lists 5 strategies for search engine optimization for nonprofits, all of which are described in the text below.

  1. Improve user experience. A good place to start with user experience is to optimize your website for mobile devices and accessibility. Make sure you’re writing easy-to-read content and breaking up text with images. For example, if you have a blog, it might be worth taking the time to go through your content and update it to make sure the content is easily readable. Streamlining navigation and ensuring that your website loads quickly are also important elements of user experience. If it takes a visitor too long to find important landing pages like your donation page, there’s a good chance they won’t make it to that page.
  2. Create and regularly update a blog. Regularly creating and sharing content shows search engines your website is active and gives you a good chance to provide value to your visitors. They’ll check back often in hopes of new content if you’re consistent about publishing blog posts relevant to your audience’s interests.
  3. Use specific keywords in your content. Choose keywords that you won’t have to struggle to compete for and that are highly relevant to your organization and its cause. Use them naturally throughout your web pages. For example, if a nonprofit wants to optimize for the keyword “animal shelter volunteering” then they could create a page called “Upcoming Animal Shelter Volunteering Opportunities” or publish a blog post about volunteering at animal shelters where they could naturally utilize that phrase. These efforts could help the nonprofit improve its SERP rankings for that keyword.
  4. Use headers correctly. Header hierarchy matters because it helps search engines (and human users) understand the structure of the information on a web page. Headers should be used in sequentially-descending order (H1, H2, H3, and so on) to foster readability. Most website builders provide you the option to classify headers correctly.
  5. Look for natural opportunities to build external and internal links on your website. Linking to internal content on your website can help show Google how everything connects and keep visitors on your pages longer. Linking to external authoritative websites (and securing links from them) can be a great way to boost your website’s authority. Undertaking these efforts in a natural way, such as by hosting guest blogs, will help you become a better search engine citizen.

So, there you have it—search engine optimization for nonprofits. Use this explainer to get started improving your nonprofit website’s search engine performance today!

Additional Resources

A nonprofit strategic plan can rally your nonprofit’s team around its overarching goals.

Nonprofit Strategic Plan – Nonprofit Catalog

A nonprofit strategic plan gives your organization a roadmap for success. By laying out your goals and the steps to achieve them, you’ll be in great shape to advance your mission. Explore the basics of nonprofit strategic planning so your organization can amp up its fundraising strategy, reenergize board members, or meet any other existing needs. 

What is a Nonprofit Strategic Plan?

A nonprofit strategic plan is a bold plan of action that aligns a nonprofit’s goals with its values to provide a dynamic performance map for future endeavors. With this blueprint, your organization will be able to prioritize its most important projects, navigate through any challenges, and keep all of your staff members on the same page. 

Ample planning can set your nonprofit up for success in the long-run, allowing you to more effectively meet your objectives and elevate your community impact. 

Building a nonprofit strategic plan will help advance your mission and improve your staff’s productivity. 

According to Aly Sterling Philanthropy, nonprofit strategic planning can benefit your nonprofit and its team in a variety of ways: 

  • Better time management. By clearly outlining the tasks that align with your priorities, you’ll spend more time on high-priority responsibilities and less time on extraneous projects that aren’t directly tied to your goals. As a result, each day’s work will be meaningful and impactful in pushing your organization’s mission forward. 
  • Improved staff and board productivity. A nonprofit strategic plan clearly identifies each member’s responsibilities and projects so everyone has a comprehensive understanding of their roles. Plus, your entire team will know how their efforts contribute to your overarching goals, leading to greater motivation. 
  • Better understanding of your guiding principles. Consider the values and goals that are important to your organization and outline them clearly in your nonprofit strategic plan. By refocusing your operations on these principles, your nonprofit’s team will rally together to work towards your vision for the future. 
  • Ability to assess results. Goals give your nonprofit the opportunity to assess whether you’ve reached your objectives and how you can restructure your strategies to enhance your organization overall. In your nonprofit strategic plan, you’ll need to address how you’ll measure results so you can gather important insights and carry out your initiatives with new awareness and direction. 

Building your nonprofit strategic plan isn’t a one-person job. Rather, you’ll want to collect a variety of perspectives and include your entire team in the process so everyone can work together towards mutual success. Let’s take a look at the specific steps towards developing an effective strategic plan. 

Steps to Create a Nonprofit Strategic Plan

Creating your nonprofit strategic plan takes time, but will give new energy and life to your nonprofit’s staff and overall operations. Use this guide to develop a robust strategic plan that will take your nonprofit to new heights. 

1. Assess

In the assess phase, you’ll reflect on what your organization is doing well and where there is room for improvement. For example, your nonprofit may have difficulty raising enough money to support its programs. The strategic area of focus that you’ll want to narrow in on is fundraising, and you might enhance your approach to fundraising by planning more engaging online campaigns. 

This reflection process requires all hands on deck, so gather several different viewpoints from your nonprofit’s stakeholders. For example, you can survey your:

  • Volunteers and staff
  • Current and past board members 
  • Current major donors
  • Beneficiaries

Remember, unfavorable opinions and critiques should be welcomed, as these will lead to unique ideas towards improvement. A nonprofit consultant can help collect unbiased views from each of your stakeholders so you can better understand different perspectives on your nonprofit’s operations and consolidate these into a plan of action. 

2. Align

In the align phase, engage your leaders and members in a retreat to discuss their thoughts in an action-oriented forum. This phase helps you align your goals and values so you can prioritize the most important projects and tasks. By determining your high-priority action items, your team can effectively push your goals forward and waste less time on low-impact tasks. 

Ensure that your priorities are relevant to your goals. For example, if marketing is an area of improvement for your nonprofit, you might want to prioritize optimizing your nonprofit’s website and social media presence. This ensures that your nonprofit is using its time and resources productively to reach its goals. 

3. Act

The act phase is where your strategic plan becomes a fully formed roadmap for success. Following the SMART model (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely), you’ll need to develop high-level objectives that will allow you to complete your goals. For instance, if your nonprofit wants to enhance its approach to fundraising, you might create an objective to “increase the number of recurring gifts by 20%.” 

To carry out your objectives, you’ll also need to outline initiatives. If you’re aiming to meet the objective for increasing recurring gifts, then sending targeted email appeals could be an important initiative. Creating a donor recognition wall could be another way to encourage donors to give again and again. 

Create accountability by delegating responsibilities to different team members and laying out deadlines. This ensures that everyone understands their unique role in fulfilling your nonprofit’s strategic plan. Consider hosting weekly or monthly check-in’s so team members can discuss their progress and where they need additional support. 

With a robust action plan, your nonprofit will be ready to approach its operations with new clarity and motivation. Work with a consultant to identify areas of improvement and create a tangible plan towards meeting your goals. Each year, take time to reflect on your nonprofit strategic plan and make adjustments as needed to enhance your approach. 

Additional Resources

Nonprofit Catalog – Read up on more nonprofit essentials by exploring our Nonprofit Catalog.

Build Your Fundraising Strategy From the Ground Up: 10 Steps – Fundraising is an essential part of powering your nonprofit’s mission. Learn how to create a winning fundraising strategy guaranteed to drive engagement and revenue. 

Top 20+ Consulting Firms for Nonprofit Organizations – A nonprofit consulting firm can give your organization the support it needs to develop a strong nonprofit strategic plan. Explore this list of the leading firms and the services they can provide you.

Nonprofit Branding Best Practices – Nonprofit Catalog

While it might feel easy to overlook marketing or to think that only for-profit organizations need to consider marketing strategies, you need to market your nonprofit successfully to both new and existing supporters in order to sustain a consistent donor base. To do so, your organization needs to have a cohesive brand that represents your mission well.

What is nonprofit branding?

Nonprofit branding includes all of the ways your organization communicates your mission and goals to the public. It’s a promise to donors, volunteers, and other types of supporters that you’ll work to further the cause they believe in. In other words, branding is a message to all your supporters that your nonprofit has a clear mission and will work toward that mission in all of your activities.

A cohesive brand ultimately instills trust in your audience, so it’s important to understand the essential elements of nonprofit branding. These essentials include:

Essential elements of nonprofit branding include logo, color scheme, typography, and messaging.

  • Logo: Your nonprofit’s logo might include your name, or it could be a graphic or symbol that encapsulates your mission or represents your organization’s activities. Your logo is an essential element toward gaining brand recognition from supporters.
  • Color scheme: Color scheme is another element of brand recognition and should be incorporated across websites, marketing materials, donation forms, and fundraising appeals. Colors have symbolic meanings, and the colors you choose to represent your brand should reflect your mission. For example, many sustainability-focused nonprofits choose a green color scheme.
  • Typography: Like color scheme, typography should be consistent across all of your organization’s platforms. Different font types and styles reflect different tones. For example, a nonprofit that benefits children might have a more playful font (paired with bright colors and images), while a nonprofit that does legal work might choose a more professional, standard font.
  • Messaging: And, of course, the messaging that your nonprofit shares with your audience is a huge factor in how your nonprofit is perceived and understood. All of your communications should have a consistent tone, such as a sense of urgency for advocacy organizations or an air of excitement for an animal rescue.

Nonprofit branding best practices

Once you understand the essential elements of nonprofit branding, there are a few things to consider to ensure that your branding is consistent and benefits your nonprofit. In order to brand successfully:

  1. Create a set of branding guidelines. These guidelines should include standards to follow, such as tone to use in communications or specific words and phrases that your nonprofit uses to describe itself. This will allow everyone across your team to understand what your brand is and how you want to present it to your audience.
  2. Center your brand around your mission. Your mission should be at the center of everything your organization does, and that includes branding. Ensure that your brand reflects your mission accurately so that your supporters understand who you are and what you do.
  3. Be consistent across all of your communications. Your website, emails, social media, physical flyers—every communication that your organization sends should have the same branding. With consistency, your brand recognition will grow, and your supporters will feel more connected to your organization.
  4. Get inspired by other nonprofits with successful brands and websites. There are plenty of organizations out there with a variety of missions and purposes that maintain consistent brands. Check out some of your personal favorite nonprofits’ websites and communications to find ideas for your own brand.

The Best Buddies logo is a great example of nonprofit branding: it’s playful and uses bright colors and a bold font to portray their mission of friendship.

For example, Best Buddies, a nonprofit that connects people with disabilities with people without disabilities, uses a playful logo, bright colors, and a bold font to portray their mission of friendship.

Best Buddies branding is consistent across their website, including in their donation forms.

Note how their donation form pulls colors from the logo to maintain consistency across their website and communications.

Nonprofit branding agencies

Whether you’re new to nonprofit branding, looking to re-brand, or are just looking for some additional branding expertise, partnering with a nonprofit branding agency can make the process easier and ensure that you’re communicating your organization’s message in the best possible way.

Particularly if you are looking to work towards perfecting your nonprofit’s website, a branding agency or nonprofit design firm can be the perfect addition to your organization’s strategy, helping your organization to clearly communicate your mission within the digital space. 

Branding is an essential aspect of a nonprofit’s ability to not only earn donations but also create a sense of unity and community for your supporters. Remember, your brand is a promise, so keep your promise to your supporters, always communicating your organization’s priorities and actions clearly.

Additional Resources

Corporate philanthropy can supercharge your nonprofit's fundraising efforts.

Corporate Philanthropy – Nonprofit Catalog

Corporate philanthropy empowers charitable individuals to strengthen their impact on the causes they care about. Through corporate giving programs, businesses step up to the plate to provide nonprofits with the funding they need to thrive.

If engage with external partners at your nonprofit, you understand that corporate giving plays a major part in achieving your objectives. From your fundraising team to your volunteer team, it impacts every aspect of your operations.

If you’re not already leveraging these opportunities, you’re missing out on funding, volunteerism, marketing, and so much more. It’s never too late to start, though! We’ll take a look at the fundamentals of corporate philanthropy, starting with a basic definition.

What is Corporate Philanthropy?

Corporate philanthropy refers to the activities and investments that a company voluntarily offers to promote the welfare of society. Corporate giving often includes:

  • Financial donations and grants
  • Employee volunteerism
  • In-kind services and products

By giving to charities, a company communicates its commitment to supporting the community that makes it profitable. To fulfill their social responsibility to support worthwhile causes, companies usually go beyond donating by offering employee programs like matching gifts and volunteer grants.

When developing these corporate giving programs, they usually outline participation guidelines, ensuring that participants and benefiting organizations align with the company’s values and objectives.

How Corporate Philanthropy Helps Nonprofits and Businesses

Engaging in corporate philanthropy has become standard for today’s businesses. These programs are wildly popular, because they benefit everyone involved. Here’s how these programs impact participating nonprofits and companies:

  • Nonprofits can boost volunteers and donations. Corporate giving is also a fantastic marketing opportunity. When a nonprofit forms a partnership with a business, they can reel in new audiences with which they might not otherwise cross paths.
  • Companies can generate positive brand awareness by attaching their names to charitable causes. They can also create a positive work environment where employees feel like their values are supported. By creating a culture of charitable giving, companies can empower employees to enrich society, directly impacting workplace satisfaction. In fact, Crowd101’s corporate giving statistics page estimates that employees who participate tend to have 75% longer tenures with their companies.
Employees tend to stick around longer when their companies engage in corporate philanthropy.

There’s really no downside to corporate giving! When chatting with a company’s leadership about forming a partnership, your nonprofit’s team can mention these advantages, positioning it as a mutually-beneficial opportunity.

Types of Corporate Philanthropy

Corporate philanthropy takes several forms, and nonprofits need to be aware of these different types to fully leverage their potential. Let’s take a look at five ways companies can partake in corporate giving. Bear in mind that these aren’t the only types of corporate philanthropy — just the most popular ones.

There are several types of corporate philanthropy.

1. Matching Gifts

Companies that offer matching donations will match their employees’ gifts to nonprofits. They usually offer these at a dollar-for-dollar rate, enabling employees to double their charitable contributions. However, some companies will offer them at higher rates, tripling and sometimes quadrupling the initial donation. Some companies will even match the money their employees raise through peer-to-peer fundraising!

Businesses usually set some ground rules for participating. Most often, guidelines include:

  • Employee eligibility (e.g., full-time employees only)
  • Nonprofit eligibility (e.g., no religious organizations)
  • Match ratio (e.g., .5:1, 1:1, 2:1)
  • Maximum and minimum donation amounts (e.g., gifts between $25-$1,000)
  • Request deadlines (e.g., within one year of the original donation)

There’s a lot to keep up with when funneling donors through the match process. That’s why most nonprofits enlist the help of a matching gift tool. This allows the donor to research their company’s corporate giving guidelines, determine their eligibility, and learn how to submit a request.

Plus, a tool with autosubmission functionality will remove a few steps from the process, enabling donors to submit their match requests immediately from the donation confirmation page.

2. Volunteerism

Volunteering brings out the best in people. Volunteers can interact directly with nonprofits’ beneficiaries and can put their skills to use to drive societal change. Corporate volunteerism encourages employees to spend their time with their favorite organizations. It can take a few different forms, such as:

  • Volunteer grants. With this type of corporate giving, companies promise to donate to the nonprofits where their employees regularly volunteer. Our volunteer grant guide explains that “some businesses pay per volunteer hour while others require employees to serve a minimum number of hours with an organization.” (Hint: board service usually counts toward volunteer hours!)
  • Team volunteer grants. As a way to encourage team building, companies offer team volunteer grants. These programs are almost identical to volunteer grants, but usually have a few more requirements, such as how many employees must volunteer together.
  • Volunteer time off (VTO). Some companies even offer paid time off for volunteering, allowing employees to take a few hours outside of the office to spend with a nonprofit and still get paid for the workday.

Volunteer-related corporate giving initiatives provide nonprofits with extra sets of hands, while employees exercise skills they can use both in and out of the workplace!

3. In-Kind Donations

In-kind gifts are contributions of goods or services, rather than financial donations. Occasionally, a company will offer in-kind donations as a way to support charity.

For instance, you might allocate $5,000 toward paying for graphic design services in your budget. A design firm may swoop in and donate free graphic design services to help your nonprofit out. This can free up some (or all) of that $5,000, so you can reallocate it toward other operational expenses.

In-kind donations can also take the form of tangible goods like prizes for charity auctions. Or, maybe companies will provide you with event space or catering. There are several ways a company can donate without writing a check!

Some companies even go as far as using a mission-driven business model in which they provide software and services exclusively to nonprofits. In this case, they may donate or offer their products or services at reduced rates.

4. Automatic Payroll Deductions

Automatic payroll deductions are one of the easiest corporate philanthropy initiatives. Employees can opt into their employers’ program and automatically send a portion of each paycheck to a specific nonprofit. The process is really similar to contributing to a retirement account.

Note that companies will usually limit the types of nonprofits that employees can send donations to through this program. Also, know that federal law requires charitable donations to come out of an individual’s post-tax earnings, so employees can deduct donations from their taxes each year.

5. Sponsorships

A sponsorship is an ongoing relationship between a nonprofit and a company. Double the Donation’s corporate sponsorships guide breaks this type of corporate philanthropy into a few groups, including:

  • Financial: A company might sponsor a specific event or program, providing funding to make it possible.
  • In-kind: This involves donating goods or services to the nonprofit, like we mentioned in the previous section.
  • Media: A company might pay for a nonprofit’s advertising costs, such as those for televised commercials, radio promotions, and printed ads.

A key aspect of these relationships is that the nonprofit must acknowledge that the business has supported their programs or events. That way, the company receives positive publicity in exchange for their contributions.

How to Promote Corporate Philanthropy

Promoting corporate philanthropy to businesses and their employees can help your nonprofit secure meaningful support. Follow these tips to encourage widespread corporate giving:

  • Build strong relationships with corporate partners. Reach out to businesses that align with your nonprofit’s mission and explain how starting a workplace giving program can be a mutually beneficial venture. For instance, you might say that their support will allow you to increase your programming by a certain percentage and, in turn, will help them achieve their corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals.
  • Provide a variety of giving options. Offer a range of giving options to accommodate diverse employee preferences. This may include traditional payroll deductions, one-time donations, employer matching programs, or opportunities for employees to volunteer their time and skills. Make it convenient for employees to participate and choose the giving method that suits them best.
  • Provide recognition. Recognize and celebrate corporate partners who participate in workplace giving programs to encourage their ongoing support. Acknowledge their contributions through newsletters, social media, and special events.

Be prepared to provide corporate partners with data and reports on the impact of their contributions. Demonstrating transparency and accountability in how you use their donations can strengthen the trust between your organizations.

Additional Resources

Matching gifts are a type of corporate giving program that can increase your nonprofit's revenue.

Matching Gifts — Nonprofit Catalog

Companies everywhere are becoming increasingly aware of their responsibility to give back to their communities. To fulfill this obligation and support charitable causes, they develop corporate giving initiatives like matching gift programs.

Donation matching has the power to multiply the contributions you’re already receiving from donors. And when your donors are properly educated about the opportunity, they’ll be much more inclined to give.

If this is your first time hearing about matching gifts, don’t worry! It’s never too late to start leveraging corporate social responsibility (CSR) in your fundraising efforts. So that you can pinpoint opportunities within your donor database, we’ll cover the basics in this quick guide to corporate matching gifts.

What Are Matching Gifts?

Matching gifts are a type of corporate giving in which companies financially match the donations their employees give to nonprofits. Companies create guidelines to define which types of employees are eligible, which nonprofits are eligible, and how much someone must donate to qualify. This ensures that the program generates value for the company and participating nonprofits.

Companies most often match donations at a 1:1 ratio, meaning that they will donate $1 for every $1 an employee donates. However, some businesses will match at a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio, meaning some employees can effectively quadruple their donations to charity.

Benefits of Corporate Matching Gifts

At its core, matching gifts provide free money to nonprofits. Dive a bit deeper, and you’ll see that the benefits go beyond this surface-level advantage though.

From the nonprofit perspective, matching gifts can increase donor engagement and retention. Donors will feel like their contributions are making more of a difference in your cause without having to reach back into their wallets. Double the Donation’s nonprofit fundraising statistics page also claims that 1 in 3 donors would give larger gifts if they knew their employer would match their gift.

One-third of all donors indicates they'd give a larger gift if their employer offers matching gifts.

A driving force for companies to create this type of program is that it can increase employee satisfaction. By supporting their donations, they’re showing employees that they care about their values outside of the workplace. And as we touched on earlier, giving to charity can also create positive brand recognition for companies. These benefits are great to communicate to company leadership if your nonprofit’s team ever encourages a local business to create a program.

Common Guidelines for Matching Gift Programs

When developing a matching gift program, corporations often lay out some basic participation guidelines. This makes it easier for them to match the donations that align with their organization’s values and priorities. Here are some of the most common rules corporations define:

  • Matching gift ratio. This is the rate at which a company will match donations. Like we mentioned, this is most often a dollar-for-dollar rate.
  • Minimum and maximum match amounts. This specifies the highest and lowest donations that a company will match. For example, a company might match gifts made between $25 and $1,000.
  • Submission deadlines. Different companies have different deadlines by which a donor must submit a matching gift request. Common deadlines include the end of the calendar year, a set number of months after the donation, and within 12 months of the donation.
  • Employee eligibility criteria. Some companies will outline which types of employees are eligible. This might include full-time employees, part-time employees, retirees, and even employees’ spouses.
  • Nonprofit eligibility criteria. Crowd101’s corporate matching gifts guide explains that most nonprofits and public educational institutions are eligible. However, companies often exclude religious organizations from participating in their programs.

When you outsource the work to a matching gift tool, you’ll simplify the research process. You can easily extract these guidelines for individual companies, making it easier to identify match-eligible donors in your CRM.

The Matching Gift Process

Luckily, the process required to receive a matching gift is pretty straightforward. When you start folding corporate giving into your priorities, make sure you train your fundraising team. That way, they can guide donors through the process if questions arise.

Here’s what will need to happen to secure a matching gift:

This corporate matching gift process can be broken down into three steps.
  1. The donor submits a donation and researches their eligibility. When you use a corporate matching gift tool, you can redirect each donor to a page where they enter their employer’s name to locate their program’s guidelines. From here, they can determine whether their donation is eligible for matching.
  2. The donor submits the required forms. Depending on whether their employer manages its program in-house or outsources it to a third-party vendor, they’ll either submit the request directly to their employer or fill out a form in an online corporate giving portal.
  3. The company follows up and matches the donation. The employer reviews the forms and follows up with your nonprofit to confirm the initial donation was made. If everything’s in line, the company sends your nonprofit a check!

Simplify this process even further with a tool that offers matching gift auto-submission. Backed by a platform that offers this level of innovation, donors can request corporate matches directly from their donation confirmation page, cutting out a few steps in the process.

Additional Resources

Nonprofit Catalog – Read up on more nonprofit essentials by exploring our Nonprofit Catalog.

12 Sample Matching Gift Letter Templates [Free Resources] – It can be a lot of work encouraging donors to check their eligibility and submit their requests. Here are some templates to help you craft your follow-up outreach.

Matching Gift Auto-Submission + CSR Platforms | What to Know – Maximize your matching gift revenue by simplifying the process for donors via auto-submission. Learn more about how auto-submission works with this guide.

Nonprofits use fundraising thermometers to visualize campaign progress.

Fundraising Thermometer Basics – Nonprofit Catalog

Whether you’re a seasoned nonprofit professional or a newcomer launching your first fundraiser, you have to think of creative strategies to encourage active participation in your fundraising campaigns. One popular method of keeping donors engaged is adding gamification elements to your fundraiser. After all, who doesn’t love a little friendly competition?

We’ll break down the basics of an essential and effective gamification tool: fundraising thermometers. Learn how you can incorporate them into your donor communication strategy to help you increase participation and raise more funds.

What is a fundraising thermometer?

A fundraising thermometer is a graphic that nonprofits create to visualize fundraising progress and motivate supporters to donate to a campaign. These simple, colorful thermometer graphics show a fundraising campaign’s goal and how close your nonprofit is to reaching it. 

While some online fundraising platforms are equipped with virtual thermometers that update automatically based on your progress, you can also easily create one on your own using a template. 

How to use a fundraising thermometer 

Fundraising thermometers are popular tools for encouraging donor engagement because they’re so easy to make, update, and share. Follow these simple steps to create your own:

  1. Set your fundraising goal. Your exact donation goal should appear at the top of the graphic to give supporters a clear indication of how many more donations you need. Be sure to set a realistic goal that inspires supporters to give more, rather than an overly-ambitious goal that may discourage them.
  2. Design your thermometer thoughtfully. Make your design eye-catching and inviting, but keep it straightforward. Donors should be able to get a sense of your progress with one quick glance. Consider using our example fundraising thermometer template below to make your own.
  3. Update and share it with supporters! If you don’t use an automated tool, ensure that you manually update your fundraising thermometer on a regular basis. Then, share major updates across communication channels to keep the momentum going.
Use our example fundraising thermometer template or get inspired to design your own.

You can use fundraising thermometers for both long term campaigns and one-time events. Use your thermometer to provide consistent progress updates for long term campaigns, or showcase a virtual thermometer with live updates at your event. Either way, spread excitement about your progress and celebrate milestones.  

Fundraising thermometer best practices

The simplicity of fundraising thermometer graphics leaves plenty of room for creativity. As you experiment with design elements, however, follow these best practices to ensure you make the most of your thermometer’s potential:

  • Align your thermometer with your organization’s branding. Design your fundraising thermometer using the same colors, font, and logo that you use in other communications. When your thermometer matches your brand, you’ll be able to seamlessly incorporate it into your marketing materials. 
  • Keep it simple. Stick to the essential elements: your end goal, current funds raised, and the visual progress bar. 
  • Share your graphic across marketing channels. Post your fundraising thermometer on your social media accounts, include it in your newsletter, and send it directly to donors via email. The more eyes you get on your thermometer, the more supporters you can inspire to give!
  • Encourage social sharing when supporters donate. Let your donors showcase their support and widen your nonprofit’s reach by sharing the graphic on social media.  

After you try out your first fundraising thermometer, gather feedback from supporters to gauge how effective it was. Then, use that information to tailor the design for your next fundraiser and create an even more engaging experience for donors.

Additional Resources

Nonprofit data collection is an essential process for measuring performance.

Nonprofit Data Collection — Nonprofit Catalog

Regardless of whether you’re actively tracking it, data is attached to every action your nonprofit takes. From serving your beneficiaries to communicating with donors, metrics indicate performance and help you make informed decisions about increasing your impact. Without a nonprofit data collection plan, you’re missing out on important information about your work.

As part of your plan, you need to know what data your nonprofit will collect and how you’ll use it to guide your strategies. Let’s cover the basics, so you can start tracking your organization’s performance.

What Is Nonprofit Data Collection?

Nonprofit data collection is the process of gathering data to use in decision-making and strategic planning. It involves pulling data from various sources, like donation forms, marketing platforms, and fundraising campaign management tools.

Tracking and managing various types of data allows nonprofits to quantify the impact of their work. Effective collection strategies allow these organizations to make educated decisions about improving their programs, strengthening their marketing, and amplifying their mission as a whole.

What Data Should Nonprofits Collect?

From fundraising and marketing to community outcomes, the metrics your nonprofit can monitor are endless. However, just because you can collect all this data doesn’t mean you should. Too many metrics will clutter your database, and you’ll have to muddle through the unnecessary data points to get to the ones that are actually helpful.

NPOInfo’s guide to nonprofit data collection breaks common metrics down into several different crucial categories. These categories will give you a solid foundation for shaping your nonprofit’s data collection process.

There are 5 types of data your nonprofit should collect.

1. Constituent Information

Between donors, volunteers, and advocates, your nonprofit interacts with a lot of supporters. Supporter data lets you know exactly who these individuals are, so you can cater your outreach and work to appeal to them.

Start by collecting basic personal information like the following:

  • Name: This will allow you to address individuals by their preferred names and titles.
  • Age: Tracking this means you can send relevant appeals and gain insight into the best ways to contact your supporters. For example, younger audiences may respond better to social media or SMS outreach, while older audiences may engage more with direct mail solicitations.
  • Employment status and employer: Tap into corporate giving, such as volunteer grants or matching gifts, by understanding individuals’ employer information.
  • Contact details and preferences: Collect supporters’ email addresses, phone numbers, and postal addresses. Knowing their contact information and preferred methods of communication will allow you to keep in touch.

If any of this information is missing from your CRM, look into conducting a data append. Our data append guide explains that this process enables you to “pull data from external sources to correct incorrect data or supplement incomplete data.” Most often, data append service providers will append contact information, birthdays, and employment details.

2. Giving Data

From here, you can dig deeper into supporters’ giving tendencies, directly deepening your understanding of their motivations. You might track details like:

  • Type of supporter: Mark individuals as donors, volunteers, event attendees, advocates, and so on. That way, you can reach out with relevant opportunities.
  • Giving amount and frequency: Segment them even further by monitoring how frequently and how much they give, whether they donated, volunteered, or supported your work in some other way once or on a recurring basis.

Tracking these details will enable you to reach out with the right appeals at the right times, increasing the likelihood that someone will continue giving to your cause.

3. Campaign Data

You spend time planning and executing your campaigns. Don’t let that go to waste by overlooking your performance metrics. Campaigns provide a prime opportunity to collect data, such as:

  • Event attendance: Track how many people attend your events. Doing so will let you know which types of events appeal to the widest audiences possible.
  • Revenue: Monitor how much your campaigns raise and the sources of those contributions, whether they’re donations, matching gifts, or sponsorship money.
  • Campaign conversions: Track how many first-time donors, volunteers, newsletter subscribers, and so on that your campaign acquires.
  • Donor and volunteer retention rates: Retention rates indicate the success of your supporter engagement efforts. Measure donor and volunteer retention across your campaigns to determine what inspires people to stay involved.

Collecting data for your nonprofit’s campaigns will help you revise your approach and make the most of future campaigns. Start with these key performance indicators and build out your list from there.

4. Financial Data

Most nonprofits operate on limited budgets. That means every dollar matters. To maximize revenue and cover operating expenses, you’ll need to collect financial data such as:

  • Income: Track the revenue you receive through donations, membership fees, products, sponsorships, and so on. This will also allow you to project growth targets.
  • Expenses: Your nonprofit needs to spend the money it raises to pursue its mission. Track how much you spend on staff salaries, campaign costs, vendor charges, and any other day-to-day operating costs.
  • Cash-on-hand: This is the total amount of money that’s accessible at any given moment. Between bank accounts and additional assets, track your reserve funds to know how long your nonprofit can feasibly last without additional income.
  • Investments: If your nonprofit invests its funds, keep up with how much you’ve invested in different sources, and record investment income at the end of each month.

Tracking this data will allow you to monitor cash flow, remain financially stable, and plan future budgets.

5. Marketing Metrics

External communication is vital for acquiring new supporters and retaining existing ones. When sending solicitations and marketing your programs, make sure you have nonprofit data collection processes in place to pinpoint the most effective communication strategies.

Here are some of the most important marketing metrics your nonprofit should collect, broken down into different categories:

  • Email metrics: Email has the highest ROI of any marketing platform. To maximize its potential, Feathr’s nonprofit email marketing guide recommends using your email software to monitor your open rate, click-through rate, conversion rate, and unsubscribe rate.
  • Ad performance: If you invest in paid advertising like Microsoft Ads or Google Ads, use each platform’s ad interface to collect data like your click-through rate, conversions, bid spending, and impressions.
  • Website KPIs: Data can help your nonprofit indicate which content is the most popular, determine content strategies, and improve the user experience. Track metrics like your traffic sources, bounce rate, and click-through rates.
  • Social media amplification: From Instagram to TikTok, collect metrics such as likes, comments, impressions, and shares to determine which platforms and types of messages perform well.

In a data-driven world, nonprofit data collection is a must for any organization that wants to thrive. Chances are, your nonprofit already collects most of the data we mentioned above. Now, it’s a matter of what you do with your data that matters!

Once you determine what metrics you’ll track, strengthen your nonprofit data collection and management strategies by streamlining forms to capture these details and practicing data hygiene to keep everything in order.

Additional Resources

Nonprofit Catalog – Read up on more nonprofit essentials by exploring our Nonprofit Catalog.

Donor Data Management: A Quick Guide for Nonprofits – Need inspiration for leveraging the data your nonprofit has collected? Explore this guide to learn how to put your data to use.

Nonprofit Fundraising Metrics: 32 KPIs To Measure Success – There are countless metrics your nonprofit can collect. Check out this extensive list to learn more about what data you should collect.

Learn how data enrichment for nonprofits enables you to strengthen supporters' profiles in your CRM.

Data Enrichment for Nonprofits — Nonprofit Catalog

Your nonprofit’s database is a gold mine of useful information. When you create rich constituent profiles, you get to know who your supporters are and can create more valuable experiences for them.

Data enrichment for nonprofits enhances the data collection process and makes the information you’ve gathered organically even more valuable. That way, you can connect with prospects on a deeper level and drive greater outcomes for your cause.

By filling in gaps within your CRM, you’ll be on your way to stronger supporter relationships in no time. In this quick guide, we’ll cover the essentials of nonprofit data enrichment, so you can get started at your organization!

What Is Data Enrichment for Nonprofits?

Nonprofit data enrichment is the process of combining first-party information from internal sources (such as donation forms) with disparate data from external, third-party sources. Also known as data enhancement or appending, data enrichment allows you to add supplemental information like contact details, demographics, and financial data to your CRM.

The goal of nonprofit data enrichment is to build rich supporter profiles by filling in missing information. That way, you can gain a holistic understanding of who your supporters are and how you can best connect with them.

Often, the term “data enrichment” is often confused with “data cleansing.” While related, these processes serve different purposes. While data enrichment involves building upon existing data, data cleansing removes inaccurate or outdated information.

Types of Nonprofit Data Enrichment

When practicing data enrichment, you’ll need to decide what information will be most valuable for cultivating deeper relationships. Some of the most helpful types of data you can pull for your supporters include:

  • Contact information. Stay in touch with your supporters by finding their email addresses, phone numbers, postal addresses, and any other details that are missing from your database.
  • Demographics. NPOInfo’s demographic appends guide explains that you can pull information like each supporter’s net worth, geographic location, age, gender, religion, ethnicity, and race. This allows you to eliminate generic outreach and instead send relevant appeals that align with their specific characteristics.
  • Employer details. Knowing where your supporters work allows you to find available corporate giving opportunities by appending employer data. If someone shares their company email address when filling out a form, you can use that information to find the guidelines for their employer’s program.

While you can pull other details, these are often the easiest, most valuable types of details nonprofits pull for their supporters.

Benefits of Nonprofit Data Enrichment

As a nonprofit marketer, you understand the power of organically-collected data. Nonprofit data enrichment can take the data you’ve already collected and make it even more valuable by filling in any missing pieces. Regularly doing so will empower you to:

  • Strengthen your outreach. The more you know about your supporters, the better you can advance your nonprofit’s marketing and send tailored appeals. In addition, you’ll be able to stay in contact with supporters with multiple contact options and personalize your communications by understanding their demographics and interests.
  • Cultivate stronger relationships. At its core, data enhancement empowers nonprofits to foster more meaningful relationships with supporters. You’ll understand what motivates them to support your cause, helping you to cater your programs and appeals to what matters most to them.
  • Save time and money. Gathering data organically through surveys and similar activities can take time. Data enrichment can provide that information almost instantly. Plus, you won’t waste time or resources by sending communications to invalid email addresses, phone numbers, or postal addresses.
Nonprofit data enrichment offers these main benefits to any organization.

What it all boils down to is that nonprofit data enrichment will provide your team with the resources it needs to understand supporters and drive its mission forward.

Quick Tips for Using Data Enrichment for Nonprofits

Data enrichment is not a one-and-done process. Constituent data is always changing, even if you’ve implemented careful data collection processes. You need a plan for consistently collecting and enriching your data. Otherwise, your nonprofit might miss out on offering valuable offers and experiences.

Here are some ways you can get started improving your nonprofit data enrichment processes:

  • Append the data that will be most beneficial. While it can be tempting to append as much data as possible, that can quickly add up and muddle your organization’s CRM with unnecessary details. Think about your marketing goals before investing in nonprofit data enrichment services. For example, if you work for an advocacy organization, details like age, location, and political affiliation will let you know if people are of voting age, in your target area, and open to your outreach.
  • Prioritize security. Your nonprofit should always prioritize privacy and compliance, especially when dealing with sensitive information. Throw third-party data into the mix, and privacy gets even more crucial. Make sure you entrust a nonprofit data enrichment provider that uses trustworthy data sources and practices proper data management protocol.
  • Create data hygiene guidelines. Before and after appending new data, your team should have nonprofit data hygiene procedures in place. Cleaning up your database beforehand will allow you to add supplemental data with more confidence that it’s accurate, whereas continuing to keep a clean database will make sure your newly-appended data doesn’t go to waste. For instance, you might create rules to standardize data entry and handle errors like duplicate or inaccurate entries.

Effective data enrichment for nonprofits is more than investing in new data. You’ll need a solid strategy for leveraging your data. Otherwise, your enhanced data might go to waste. These tips will give you a solid start!

Additional Resources

Nonprofit Catalog – Read up on more nonprofit essentials by exploring our Nonprofit Catalog.

Donor Data Management: A Quick Guide for Nonprofits – Data enhancement for nonprofits is just one piece of the data management puzzle. Learn more about managing donor data with this guide.

What Is an Address Append? Ultimate Guide for Nonprofits – Postal appending is a specific type of data enrichment for nonprofits. Learn how conducting an address append can enhance your direct mail outreach.