Nonprofit Insights: Fundraising with Businesses – 5 Strategies You Can Take to the Bank

The Nonprofit Insights webinar series brings major thought leaders and experts to you for thought-provoking presentations on a variety of issues related to technology and engaging your community members for social good.

Fundraising with Businesses: 5 Strategies You Can Take to the BankWondering how your nonprofit organization can create strong partnerships with companies to raise more funds? Cause marketing is a great option.

But what IS cause marketing, what sorts of fundraisers can your organization run with businesses, and how can you leverage the support and passion of volunteers to make these projects a success?

Fundraising with Businesses: 5 Strategies You Can Take to the Bank

Register for this free event.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
11am – 12pm PT (1-2pm ET)

Follow along with the conversation on Twitter: @VolunteerMatch and #vmlearn.

Join VolunteerMatch and Joe Waters, expert author, consultant, speaker and fundraiser, to dive in to the exciting world of cause marketing and fundraising with businesses. Joe will present strategies from his latest book, “Fundraising with Businesses,” for how you can work with companies to diversify your funding options and become more sustainable in today’s tough economy. And through it all, we’ll discuss how volunteering plays a pivotal role in the present and future of business giving.

Register for this free Nonprofit Insights webinar now.

You Can Learn a Lot about Volunteer Engagement from the Book “Fundraising with Businesses”

You can learn a lot about volunteer engagement from Joe Waters' book "Fundraising with Businesses."There’s a lot more to Joe Waters than QR Codes. Of course, anyone who’s followed Joe’s well-respected cause marketing blog,, already knows this. But his new book “Fundraising with Businesses” will remove any lingering doubt cynics may have had.

Drawing on an impressive career of doing exactly what his book is about, Joe presents 40 strategies for how nonprofits can engage businesses in fundraising initiatives. The book is easy and fun to read, and contains both illuminating examples and practical tips for those of us on the ground actually doing the work every day.

Why is This Important?

Funding is always going to be one of the biggest challenges for nonprofit organizations – and even more so in a down economy. When previous sources of funding begin to dry up, organizations must get creative and diversify. Partnering with businesses is a great way to do this.

Companies all over the world are realizing how critical it is for them to give back – not just for the public image, and not just because their employees want it, and not just because it actually makes good business sense, but because many of them really do want to help make the world a better place. This presents a huge opportunity for nonprofits to step in a guide these businesses (and drum up some significant support in the process).

Fundraisers that Involve Volunteering

While most of “Fundraising with Businesses” doesn’t directly deal with volunteer engagement, a few of the 40 strategies presented are volunteer-based: Dollars for Doers is an obvious one – many companies already have “volunteer grant” programs that enable employees to gift company money to their charity of choice when they track enough volunteer hours.

Another fundraiser profiled in the book that involves volunteers is what Joe calls a “Building Fundraiser.” Leveraging the interesting aspects (and heights) of a partner’s physical space will most often involve engaging employees, tenants and visitors in some sort of action for the fundraising itself. Similar to engaging runners for a road race, these volunteers will be willing to climb that extra floor for your cause.

Reading Volunteer Engagement Between the Lines

Beyond these obvious volunteering elements, there are other connections that we can make between this book and volunteer engagement. And I’m not just talking about the fact that when engaged, these companies actually become a “volunteer” for you – as a fundraiser! But also because the best practices involved with these partnerships are the same ones that are critical when engaging volunteers in your work. Here are some examples that jumped out at me:

Make a Good Match

Making a good match is important both for corporate partnerships and volunteer engagement.Throughout the book, Joe stresses the importance of working with the right partners – not just anyone. For example, thinking about who you’re already connected with via board members, volunteers and funders is an easy way to identify low-hanging fruit. But you should also keep in mind that the best partners are those who are well-aligned with your mission, your local community and your goals for the campaign.

Similarly, running a successful volunteer program requires recruiting volunteers who are a good fit for your organization. In fact, that’s basically what VolunteerMatch is all about. (Volunteer. Match. Get it?) Our free online service is designed to help you connect not just with any volunteer, but the right ones, and this should be something you keep top of mind throughout your recruitment and engagement process.

Set Clear Expectations

In every single chapter of the book there’s this great section called: “How It Works in 1-2-3.” And for every single strategy, #1 has something to do with communicating clearly with your corporate partner about expectations around who will do what? For who long? How much money is involved? Etc. Without these details hammered out beforehand, even a strong partnership will eventually fall apart.

Setting clear expectations for your volunteers is also important. Otherwise, volunteers will feel adrift and taken advantage of, and you will feel disappointed that they’re not giving you the level of commitment you were hoping for. That’s why we often stress the importance of bullet points in your volunteer listings.

Provide Plenty of Training and Support

One of Joe’s most interesting points in my mind was this: The more you do for your corporate partner, the more likely they are to focus their considerable energy on raising money for you. So give them the training and support they need to do a great job!

Volunteers also need lots of training and support from you. No matter how passionate they are about your cause, or how much time they have to give, you need to be there to answer their questions and show them how to do stuff. The more supported they feel, the more efficient and effective their work will be.

Show Your Impact!

It's important to show your impact, both to corporate partners and to volunteers.It’s okay to brag – in fact, it’s great to brag about the impact you made with a corporate partner during a fundraising project. How many people did you help? How many beaches are now clean? How many puppies have a new home? Not only will this drum up even more excitement and support for your cause, but reporting the success of your program will help your corporate partner make the case to run it again in the future.

The best way to retain and appreciate volunteers is to show them how their work made a difference. Even a simple email can do the job, but a phone call, a handshake, a smile, and a thank you are all great, too. Also, people love infographics. Seriously.

Technology is Helpful

Some of the strategies in Joe’s book are technology based, like the Pin-to-Give fundraiser, or the Facebook Likes fundraiser. But even those that happen more offline can benefit from the involvement of technology, whether it’s for promotion, coordination or tracking.

And if you’re not already using technology as a key element of your volunteer program, you’re a bit behind the times. Even if you don’t have a fancy system for tracking and managing volunteers, you’re probably using Excel. Plus, we all know how helpful social media can be when it comes to volunteer engagement.

I highly recommend you check out “Fundraising with Businesses” by Joe Waters. Joe also has some great supporting resources like Pinterest boards and a hashtag (#fwb40) to help you join the conversation.

How have you partnered with businesses to help support your organization? Tell us about it below!

What Do Nonprofits Have to Say to Corporations?

VolunteerMatch Client SummitIn about three weeks, VolunteerMatch will hold our annual Client Summit, this year right here in our hometown of San Francisco. We’ll bring together over one hundred professionals from our corporate clients and the worlds of corporate philanthropy, employee engagement, cause marketing and more.

You might be asking: But why do we work with corporations in the first place?

A major part of our philosophy at VolunteerMatch is that we all must work together to solve the world’s problems – no one person, organization or sector can do it alone. In addition to providing a free place to list your volunteer opportunities, running free webinars on volunteer recruitment and management, and posting news, resources, and thought pieces on this blog, partnering with companies is another way we support your work.

Our corporate clients are an important part of the symbiotic VolunteerMatch network of nonprofits, volunteers and corporations. Generally, close to half of the volunteer referrals on VolunteerMatch come from our corporate clients.

Each year we host the Client Summit and bring this group together to share insights that will strengthen their employee engagement and corporate social responsibility efforts. We design the agenda with expert speakers and panelists to inspire our clients and energize them with more ways to engage their employee and consumer audiences in your causes.

The Client Summit is also the scene of the VolunteerMatch Corporate Volunteer Awards, when we recognize the companies who have particularly excellent employee volunteering programs.

In the end, the Client Summit is about reminding our clients of all the reasons they’re a part of the VolunteerMatch network, and the most important is, of course, you. We want to showcase the impact they’ve had on the nonprofits who use our service, and that includes our own organization.

So now we ask: how have our corporate clients impacted your work? Have you worked with any of the companies and their employees? How have they made a difference to your community?

Leave a message for our clients, and help us illustrate the change we can make when we all work together as one large community of nonprofits, companies and dedicated volunteers.

Share your message in the comments below or on Twitter using hashtag #CSRthx.

Great Volunteers Make Great Pet Sitters at

Volunteers can show off their service at

We think people who volunteer with local nonprofits to help dogs make great pet sitters. That’s why we’ve partnered with, the country’s leading website for neighborhood dog sitters, on a new program called “Sit a Dog, Save a Life™.”

It’s not just good for dogs – it’s a great way for volunteers to raise money for canine-serving nonprofits and shelters and maybe make some additional money for yourself. matches the needs of dog owners with the services of pet sitters. As a sitter, you get to set your own rates and schedule, and you can of course choose the dogs you want to care for. You can also choose to care for a dog in your abode, or do some dog sitting at another’s home. No experience or licensing is necessary — just a love of dogs!

One of the exciting things at is that sitters can share that they also volunteer to help dogs in their spare time. They can even elect to donate any earnings from pet sitting to VolunteerMatch. We’ll put it to good use by providing dog-related nonprofits with free coupons for our premium tools.

When you do this, your Rover profile will display a “VolunteerMatch Badge” so that others can see that you volunteer for dogs and that you are committed to supporting the shelters and other nonprofit services that make life worth barking about for our canine friends.

So if you’re looking to turn your love of dogs into support for your favorite nonprofit, try pet sitting at And if you’re looking for a dog sitter, check out a caring dog sitter who has agreed to donate a portion of their profits.

Building Effective Corporate Partnerships

This article was originally published on Volunteering is CSR.

Image via LeapCR

It’s clear today that companies and nonprofits must work together to help solve social issues. Cause marketing campaigns are a major way corporations engage the public in social good, and you won’t find a successful cause marketing campaign without a corporate/nonprofit partnership.

Research shows that most consumers (78%) believe these partnerships help a cause stand out from the rest. (Check out the Cause Marketing Forum’s Cause Update for recent program examples and analysis.)

So before doing anything to plan your next engagement program – consider which corporation you could partner with to increase your impact. Choosing a corporate partner for your campaign should be one of the first steps you take, not the last. Here’s some advice to get you started:

Determine What Assets You Bring to the Table
Before you approach another organization or company for a cause partnership, consider what it is you have to offer. For companies, this often includes cash to help support activities, but may also include assets like technology or staff time and expertise. For nonprofits, a strong email list or issue expertise may be the core of what you have to offer – but don’t discount assets like the ability to rally volunteers or craft a compelling cause story.

Map Roles & Responsibilities at the Start
Each partner will bring certain assets to the table, but it is unlikely that all program needs will be covered. Determine who will be responsible for the remaining needs and who will take the lead on responsibilities not yet covered. Knowing what role each partner plays from the start allows everyone to be accountable the project, avoiding potential finger-pointing if something goes awry.

Be Transparent About Your Personal Goals
Don’t leave your organizational partnership goals to the imagination. Be up front with your partner! Looking to build your reputation? Want to attract more corporate investment? Say so! Being transparent will help you and your partner be on the same page, and will lead to a more fruitful relationship over time, where each partner can support each other’s unique interests.

Identify Common Goals
While it’s good to come to the table armed with what your organization wants to accomplish, it’s equally important for partners to have alignment of their goals, too. When determining potential partners, first consider the company’s industry and issue focus, organizational culture, geographic reach and other factors that may influence whether they’ll be a good fit with your program.

Measure Outcomes and Adjust
Once goals are set, determine how you will track mutual success of your partnership. Evaluation is an important step in any program, and the same holds true when companies and nonprofits work together. But don’t just “set it and forget it” – remember that the point of measurement is to track progress and make adjustments if a partnership or program isn’t meeting stated goals.

Have you taken part in a corporate/nonprofit partnership? Share your best practices for building a successful collaboration below!