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Raising Money from Volunteer Grant Programs – Top Seven Questions

March 1st, 2013 Posted in How Not For Profits

At Double the Donation, our mission is to help nonprofits increase fundraising from employee matching gift and volunteer grant programs. When we speak to development officers at nonprofits, they’re often familiar with the intricacies of employee matching gift programs but have questions regarding volunteer grant programs.

We wanted to take a few minutes to share seven of the most frequently asked questions we receive about volunteer grant programs.

Question #1: What are “Volunteer Grant” Programs and are they different from “Dollar for Doer Programs”?

“Dollar for Doer Programs” and “Volunteer Grant Programs” are one and the same. They’re corporate giving programs created by companies to encourage volunteerism in communities where employees live and work. Companies provide a monetary grant to organizations where employees volunteer on a regular basis.

  1. Set $ / hour structure – Companies will provide a set monetary donation  for every hour an employee volunteers. For example, Carmax provides a $10 grant for every hour an employee volunteers up to $10,000 annually.
  2. Thresholds – Companies will provide a monetary donation once an employee volunteers for at least a certain number of hours. For example, 3M offers $250 volunteer grants for nonprofits once an employee volunteers for 20 hours in a year.

If you’d like to learn more, check out our overview on volunteer grant programs.

Question #2: How much money is available from employee volunteer grant programs vs. matching gift programs?

In general matching gift programs are much more prevalent for nonprofits than volunteer grant programs. That being said, no organizations should overlook a source of free grant money that is available based on the work volunteers are already performing. Each grant counts, so make sure you’re maximizing donations from every source of fundraising that’s available to your organization.

Did you know:

Your organization has already done the hardest part which is recruiting volunteers willing to dedicate a significant amount of time to your organization. Make sure to ask them to take an extra 30 seconds to determine if their employer offers a volunteer grant program.

Question #3: How many employers provide volunteer grants?

National employers which offer volunteer grant

Volunteer grant programs are a fairly common program especially at medium to large companies. For instance, 40% of Fortune 500 companies offer volunteer grant programs. While not as high as the 65% of Fortune 500 companies with matching gift programs, they’re still very prevalent.

All of the companies in the image on the right offer both matching gift and volunteer grant programs

Click here for an additional list of some of the largest employers which offer volunteer grants for their employees.

Question #4: Which companies offer exceptional volunteer grant programs?

Double the Donation hasn’t compiled a ranking dedicated exclusively to volunteer grant programs, but you should check out this list of companies who ranked highly in our overall analysis of corporate employee giving programs. For this ranking, we combined information on both volunteer grant and matching gift programs.

That being said, it isn’t too challenging to identify the traits that would make a company’s volunteer grant program stand out. Programs quality can really be judged based on the minimum volunteer hours required, value per hour, and the maximum annual limits.  A few companies with great volunteer grant programs include:

Click here for a list of additional national companies who offer volunteer grant programs.

Question #5: What are the typical restrictions for organizations?

In general companies apply very few restrictions on the types of nonprofits that are eligible to receive volunteer grant programs. Companies typically state that any 501(c)(3) nonprofit or school is eligible.

Normally there are only a few restrictions such as not providing grants to political organizations or religious organizations unless they’re focused on serving the broader community (ex. homeless shelters, food banks, etc.)

The rule that you should be most concerned with is the minimum number of hours. In most cases, companies only provide grants to organizations where employees volunteer on a regular basis. You can expect that most companies require at least 20 hours of volunteerism from a single employee in a calendar year before he or she is eligible to request a volunteer grant.

Question #6: Why are volunteer grants programs underutilized by nonprofits?

Even for organizations who have a large number of individuals who volunteer on a regular basis, there are multiple barriers that make it tough for organizations to tap into volunteer grant dollars. The most common reason is that individual volunteers actually have no idea their company offers a program. The program is often only buried in the employee benefit book that is given out once per a year.

Even if an employee has heard his or her company offers a program, there’s oftentimes a gap in knowledge around the process for submitting a volunteer grant request. Fortunately many companies now offer an electronic submission process so if your organization can communicate out company specific instructions, volunteers would be more likely to submit the grant requests.

Given these challenges, it’s not a surprise that much of the available money goes untapped. If you’re looking to increase revenue from volunteer grant programs, check out Double the Donation’s service. We can help you raise more money from corporate employee matching gift and volunteer grant programs.

Question #7: What steps should organizations take to increase fundraising from dollar for doer programs?

If your organization is lucky enough to have a large number of volunteers, make sure you’re asking them to check if their employer offers a volunteer grant program.

Prompting a volunteer with company specific information is a great way to increase the likelihood they’ll submit a volunteer grant request to their employer. Check out some of these marketing strategies.

If you’ve already done the hard work of organizing a passionate group of volunteers, make sure you’re providing them with the tools they need to submit a grant request to their company. It only takes a few minutes and doesn’t require them to open up their own wallets.

Double the Donation

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