By Adam Weinger
At Double the Donation, we like to talk about mutually beneficial relationships between corporations and nonprofit organizations. One such program that is a win-win for both types of businesses is called a volunteer grant program. The following article describes how volunteer grant programs work, and also provides reasons for why both nonprofits and corporations can benefit from their utilization.
Volunteer grant programs are a form of corporate giving program that encourages employees to volunteer their time in the communities where they live and work, after which they are eligible to apply for a monetary grant to nonprofit organizations.
How do they work?
There are two kinds of volunteer grant programs.
The first is a threshold program, which means after an employee volunteers for a certain number of hours in one year (usually a minimum of 10), then that employee is eligible to apply for a set monetary grant to a nonprofit organization. For example, if an employee of 3M Co. volunteers for 20 hours with an eligible nonprofit, then a $250 grant is provided to the nonprofit (upon submission of the program forms).
The second volunteer grant program is based on a pay-per-hour strategy. For example, CarMax provides a $10 grant for every hour volunteered, up to $10,000 annually (that's 1,000 hours of volunteer work).
When an individual volunteers their time to a nonprofit organization, that organization is already benefitting. However, when an individual volunteers their time, and then on top of that they apply for a monetary grant from their employer as a reward of sorts for volunteering, this is a double win! Not only are you receiving volunteer hours, but you're also receiving a monetary donation on behalf of the employee who is already working to promote your cause for free.
Here is a list of some of the top volunteer grant programs offered by corporations around the country.
Educate your volunteers on the opportunity.
The biggest obstacle for nonprofits when it comes to volunteer grants is simply the lack of knowledge with your volunteers about the existence of these programs in their companies. The key for your organization to optimize the benefit of these programs is to educate your volunteers on the opportunity! Let your volunteers know that many companies offer some form of volunteer grant, and they might be able to tap into a source of funding that otherwise gets left behind.
Make it as easy as possible for your volunteers to submit appropriate grant requests.
Many people may not know about existence of these volunteer grant programs, but even if they did, they might not understand the submission process. Help your volunteers by providing detailed instructions on the process, which will make it much more likely they will submit the appropriate forms. Fortunately, many companies also offer an electronic submission process, so helping your volunteers navigate through the form will increase the chances for a successful grant request.
When a company encourages local volunteerism from their employees, it's going to get recognized in the community. When a company encourages volunteerism and also offers a nonprofit monetary grant to incentivize volunteerism, it's not only going to get recognized, but the work is directly impacting the cause of local nonprofit organizations. Most nonprofits publicly thank their donors and volunteers via marketing materials like annual reports, social media posts, and news media outlets. Having your company's name in a thank-you campaign shows the community how invested you are in its well-being and success, making it exponentially more likely to increase customer loyalty.
Corporations that partake in charitable giving have higher employee engagement and retention.
It has been recently shown that employees' pride in working for their company is a key indicator on the level of employee engagement and happiness. According to a Dale Carnegie study, 54% of employees who were proud of their company's contributions to society are more engaged in the workplace. Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by more than 200 percent!
Volunteer grant programs are truly a win-win for both corporations and nonprofit organizations in that nonprofits receive time and funding, and corporations receive recognition and more engaged employees in the workplace. It's a great kind of collaboration for the community and we encourage as much participation as possible from both sides.
Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, a company focused on helping nonprofits increase the amount of money they raise from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs. Follow Double the Donation on Twitter or LinkedIn.