Guest post by Markita Staples.

I started working with Ryan Banks Academy a year ago and I’ve learned so much about what happens behind the scenes of a nonprofit. One area in particular is fundraising. Just like so many other important things in our lives, the success of a nonprofit is heavily dependent on money. We can have hearts of gold, but without the finances to make it work, all that passion can fall short.

I’ve taken on the challenge of reaching out to corporations to solicit donations. This is an area full of opportunity since, as we all know, corporations have lots of money (and I’m thinking mainly of a company that might fall on the Fortune 500 when I say this), but it can also be a pretty daunting task. Who exactly do you talk to within an organization? What do you need to get the process started? How much can you get? For those of us with these questions (and I certainly had them at first) I thought I would write about just how to do that.

The Giver: Corporate Giving Departments

Many large organizations have a person or group that is dedicated to working with nonprofits. I typically see this role within a department like Human Resources or Government Relations. If you work at a corporation and happen to know someone in these departments, just reach out and see if they could point you in the right direction. Most corporations also have some type of internal website where you can search for the Corporate Giving department. Try keywords like “Corporate Giving”, “nonprofit”, or “matching grants”.

Different Types of Programs

Once you find the right person or team, you need to know what types of programs are available. In my current and previous positions at different organizations, here are a few program offerings I’ve seen:

  • Matching grants: Allows you to get a match from the company based on how much you donate. The organization could match dollar for dollar, 50% of what you match, or something else.
  • Donations for logging hours: Allows you to either be paid for your personal volunteer work or to donate to an organization in exchange for volunteering.
  • Pro-bono projects: The corporation selects projects for different organizations and solicits employees to use their skill set to work with that organization. (Bonus: this is a great way for you to get experience in an area that you might not get in your current position.)
  • Corporate donations: The corporation donates money to the nonprofit based on an application, contest, random selection, or other criteria.
  • Through United Way or another coalition: Your favorite nonprofit may be supported through United Way, and many corporations have huge campaigns for UW. You could tap into that and designate the money to the nonprofit of your choice.

There are other ways that a corporation may contribute as well. The moral of the story: there are so many ways to give back. You just have to pick one!

Nonprofit Eligibility

Of course, your nonprofit has to have a certain level of eligibility to be considered. In general, corporations look to the organization to be a 501(c) nonprofit. This is because there are certain tax treatments and government incentives based on donations to this type of nonprofit compared to another type of organization. One way to check for this is a search on Guidestar, which is what my organization uses.

If the nonprofit does not yet have its 501(c) status, they may have a fiscal sponsor, and you can donate to that entity. RBA currently does this through an awesome organization called The Stewards Market, which is an organization focused on providing social enterprises and more education to underserved communities.

Go For It!

You may be reading this because you wanted this exact information, or because someone sent you here. Either way, if you have close ties with any corporation, tap into these programs! A lot of these funds go unused simply because people don’t know about them, but these donations mean so much to a nonprofit. You could make a huge difference to a nonprofit today with just a few clicks of your mouse. Also, if you haven’t yet found a nonprofit where you might want to contribute, why not start with RBA? Cheers and happy giving!