Guest post by Adam Weinger, Double the Donation
What do Verizon, CarMax, and State Farm all have in common? They all offer volunteer grant programs.
Volunteer grant programs, also known as “Dollars for Doers” programs, are charitable giving programs set up by corporations in which the company provides a monetary donation to eligible nonprofits as a way to recognize employees who volunteer. They enable corporations to give back to their communities and support organizations that employees are already passionate about.
Although volunteer grants are a relatively new form of corporate giving, they’re already widely offered among Fortune 500 companies and are catching on at smaller firms. For instance:
- The Verizon Volunteers Program provides $750 grants for 50 volunteer hours.
- State Farm’s Good Neighbor Grant Program recognizes employees with a $500 grant for 40 volunteer hours.
- CarMax’s Matching Hours Program awards $10 for every hour volunteered.
In fact, hundreds of companies offer volunteer grant programs with donations generally ranging from $10-$15 per hour volunteered.
How Do Volunteer Grant Programs Work?
Volunteer grant programs provide an easy way to raise money from volunteers without asking them to take out their checkbooks. They’re already actively giving their time to organizations like yours, and are glad to take a few minutes to request grants from their employers – grants that could equal hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars for your nonprofit.
Volunteer grant programs consist of five steps:
- Individuals volunteer.
- Nonprofits notify eligible volunteers – Program descriptions are often buried inside employee benefit books. Volunteers can’t submit grant requests if they aren’t aware of their company’s program, so be sure to ask them about it and help them find the answer.
- Volunteers submit grant requests – Either electronically or using a paper form.
- Nonprofits validate grant requests – Verifying that an individual is a volunteer and that the organization is an accredited school or 501(c)(3) organization.
- Corporations cut checks.
Taking Advantage of Volunteer Grant Programs
Increasing volunteer grants can be boiled down to two steps: Raising awareness, and making it easy for donors.
Most individuals have never even heard of employee volunteer grant programs. Here are some ways you can explain and advertise volunteer grants:
- Social media
- Email signatures
- Newsletter articles
- Website links
Making It Easy
You can always ask volunteers to check with HR, but investing time yourself to research employers will yield a higher percentage of eligible volunteers who actually follow through and submit a grant request. Don’t let volunteers get hung up looking for information.
Provide them with as much of the following as possible:
- Up-to-date company policies
- Minimum volunteer hours required
- Printed forms or links to the online submission process
- Your nonprofit’s contact information (Tax ID, address, fundraising contact)
Alternatively, you can sign up with a service such as Double The Donation. We specialize in increasing fundraising from matching gifts and volunteer grants. You can create a custom branded mini-site so your volunteers can immediately assess their eligibility and gain access to detailed corporate giving information about their employer.
Volunteers want to help! If you raise awareness and make it easy for them, you’ll see an increase in volunteer grants.
Adam Weinger is the founder 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.