Your nonprofit relies on the combined efforts of its staff, donors, volunteers, and advocates to fulfill its mission. To ensure your long-term success, you engage in several fundraising activities—from soliciting major gifts to hosting peer-to-peer campaigns. With only so much time, energy, and resources, how do you get the most out of your efforts?
One game-changing opportunity you may be overlooking is volunteer grants. Thanks to this corporate giving program, the volunteers you recruit can not only supply your nonprofit with essential assistance, but they can also bring in additional funds to power your mission.
For those of your volunteers who work for a company that offers volunteer grants, all they need to do is contribute a certain number of hours to your nonprofit and fill out a form. Once approved, their employer will make a gift to your organization, and the amount will depend on the number of hours volunteered.
Volunteer grants are a win-win-win. Your volunteers can amplify the impact of their contributions, their employers experience a boost in reputation for their corporate philanthropy, and your nonprofit receives more funds for its cause. In this guide, we’ll discuss four essential tips for making the most of this type of corporate giving.
1. Offer a variety of volunteer opportunities.
Before you can secure more volunteer grants, your nonprofit needs to build a strong volunteer base. Since your supporters have varying skills, preferences, and interests, it’s important to provide them with many different choices for getting involved. This makes it easier for you to attract new volunteers and improve your volunteer management year after year.
For instance, you could ask volunteers to help by:
- Setting up and cleaning up after a fundraising event.
- Creating content for your social media pages.
- Improving or redesigning your nonprofit’s website.
- Providing translations for beneficiaries.
- Offering legal advice and services.
- Writing or reviewing grant applications.
- Mentoring new volunteers.
In addition to offering a wide range of roles and responsibilities, include opportunities to volunteer both in-person and online. That’ll make participating more accessible to supporters, regardless of their availability or location.
Use your volunteer management software to keep track of each individual’s involvement, skills, interests, and employer data. Doing so allows you to create more opportunities that appeal to your volunteers and follow up with them when they’re eligible to apply for a volunteer grant.
2. Promote volunteer grants in multiple ways.
Your volunteers are invested in your nonprofit’s success. Therefore, they’ll be enthusiastic about amplifying their impact by applying for volunteer grants. However, it’s up to your organization to communicate these opportunities to them.
Since your supporters likely have different preferences regarding how they interact with your nonprofit, be sure to leverage multiple channels to increase the chances they’ll come across your content.
For instance, you can promote volunteer grants through:
- Your website. Your supporters know that they can access your website for all of the latest news and updates regarding your nonprofit. Add key details about volunteer grants in areas on your “Ways to Help” and “Volunteer” pages. Whether someone visits to sign up to volunteer or explore options to contribute, they’ll automatically become aware of this opportunity.
- Google Ad Grants. According to Getting Attention, the Google Ad Grant program is a powerful marketing tool for nonprofits, whether you’re looking to promote an upcoming event or spread the word about volunteer grants. Once you’re approved for the program, you’ll receive $10,000 a month to spend on ads that will appear on Google’s search engine results pages. Then, you can create ads directing users to your volunteer grant information.
- Social media. Create eye-catching, informative posts about volunteer grants on your social media pages encouraging volunteers to check their eligibility. In these posts, you can include infographics, engaging videos about corporate giving opportunities, and more. You can even take it one step further by hosting a live Q&A session for supporters interested in learning more about how volunteer grants work.
- Your email newsletter. As you inform supporters about upcoming volunteer opportunities in your email newsletter, include a brief explainer about the volunteer grant process or add a link directing them to your website to learn more.
Include clear instructions and guidelines in all of your volunteer grant materials so that volunteers know exactly what steps they need to take to determine their eligibility and request a grant from their employers.
3. Strengthen your corporate relationships.
As you recruit more corporate volunteers for your mission, take the time to sow the seeds for more meaningful connections with their socially conscious employers. After all, corporate philanthropy can take many forms. By building long-term corporate relationships, your nonprofit can open the door for even more support down the line.
For instance, many companies provide matching gifts and in-kind donations in addition to volunteer grants. These are ideal opportunities to boost the impact of donors’ gifts and gain access to more resources that power your purpose.
To set your corporate relationships up for success, research companies that have similar values to your nonprofit, as they’re more likely to be motivated to support your goals. Just remember that these partnerships should be mutually beneficial. According to Double the Donation’s corporate sponsorships guide, your organization should publicly recognize its corporate partners to enhance their reputation and make them feel like part of your impact.
4. Express your appreciation.
When supporters secure volunteer grants for your nonprofit, remember to promptly and consistently thank them for their contributions. This ensures that they understand just how much this boost in funding makes a difference in your work.
Some basic ways you can appreciate your volunteers include:
- Sending thank-you emails after receiving volunteer grants.
- Creating impact reports that specify what volunteer grant funds have allowed your nonprofit to accomplish.
- Giving free branded merchandise to corporate volunteers.
- Hosting a volunteer appreciation event.
Furthermore, consider creating spotlights on your nonprofit’s website and social media pages to share individual volunteers’ stories, highlighting how they’ve made an impact by contributing their time and applying for a volunteer grant. Remember to ask for their permission first. In the end, featuring their picture and a personal quote can be an excellent way to motivate others to get involved, too.
Ultimately, securing more volunteer grants depends on the relationships you cultivate with volunteers and their employers. Send out surveys to collect their feedback and implement any improvements that can lead to more support in the future.
After all, many volunteers are likely to donate in addition to contributing their time and requesting volunteer grants. Similarly, your corporate partners may be willing to help sponsor one of your events, support your marketing efforts, and more. No matter your goals, creating a thoughtful volunteer grant strategy means you’ll wind up with more passionate volunteers and corporate partners in no time.
Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of tools to nonprofits to help them raise more money from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs.
Double the Donation's robust solution, 360MatchPro, provides nonprofits with automated tools to identify match-eligible donors, drive matches to completion, and gain actionable insights. 360MatchPro integrates directly into donation forms, CRMs, social fundraising software, and other nonprofit technology solutions to capture employment information and follow up appropriately with donors about matching gifts.