present-1The shift in corporate philanthropy and gifts over the last decade has been more of a focus for both the organizations that benefit from it, and the companies involved. Companies and their employees are more willing to get their hands dirty and volunteer their time, both personally and professionally, to help organizations make a bigger impact. They are also more willing to support specific initiatives with grants that the organization is able to report on in detail to show the impact of the company's contribution.

There was a modest increase in corporate monetary giving in 2013, so if your organization focuses on corporate grants, sponsorships, or donations, you have to start thinking outside the box.

There are several reasons for the shift in corporate philanthropy: the changes to charitable deductions, the increase in Millennials in the workforce (who are much more concerned with making a tangible impact and seeing results), as well as timid companies that are recovering from the recession and are holding off on increasing its giving budgets. These are only a few reasons that companies are looking to diversify their philanthropic arms and why your organization should rethink its corporate giving programs for the future.

Your organization can help the company's business goals.

The best example of this, featured in an article last year in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, is Microsoft. Their attempt to attract the younger generations to their products was shadowed by Apple’s appeals to college students. So Microsoft looked to make a bigger impact on youth by creating YouthSpark as part of their corporate citizenship program.

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Microsoft provides grants to organizations like Boys and Girls Club of America, City Year, and Junior Achievement USA through its new program, Innovation for Good. The program connects “employees to young people around the world who want to use technology to better their communities.”

They’ve also launched a very popular event called We Day that included a concert and celebration in California and Seattle, in partnership with Free the Children. It’s meant to help empower youth to “take action to improve their communities and the world.” Thousands of students have attended and millions have joined the movement. 

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Creating and powering these programs as a company helps put Microsoft products and technology into the hands of those that could turn into life-time Microsoft customers. And it impacts the organizations even more that are able to leverage Microsoft's reach and funding to raise more awareness of their cause and impact more people and children.

You can leverage employee skills to benefit your community and clients.

Millennials are much more willing to give their time and skills to do good, instead of just giving money each year to a cause that a company supports. As an organization, you want to find companies to partner with that has skilled employees that can impact your mission with their time.

For example, Junior Achievement raises 80% of their funds each year through grants from “companies that want to see measurable outcomes and opportunities for volunteerism." This provides the opportunity for employees to support and donate their time and skills to the organization to impact its mission. Because Junior Achievement focuses on documenting and showing the results of its impact, companies are very attracted to the tangible results they receive when investing in the organization. Showing the impact in detail should be a high priority for any organization looking for corporate investment.

And don’t just focus on big corporations when thinking about ways to engage your employees -- think about local small- and medium-size companies.

You organization can benefit in other, non-monetary ways.

Companies are also expanding their corporate philanthropy to creating products and offering services that directly benefit an organization and those it impacts. Charity: water has a full ecommerce store featuring corporate partners that have created specific products that are branded with charity water’s logo and colors that are sold for donations.

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Charity: water themselves designs products to sell -- like t-shirts, water bottles, and even baby onesies. There are online platforms out there like Shopify that make it easy to incorporate an ecommerce store front on your organization’s site. They also have their corporate partners, like TOMs and Bonobos, feature their charity: water branded products on their websites.

These companies -- or more accurately, social enterprises -- are becoming more popular and prevalent. Many retail and ecommerce companies are becoming much more socially conscious and are much more willing to support causes that relate their values.

As an organization, you should be thinking of what else a company can provide to your organization to further your mission, whether it's skill-based volunteers, products and services, or even awareness and reach.

How does your organization think outside the box when it comes to corporate partnerships and gifts?

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Originally published Mar 14, 2014 4:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017

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Nonprofit Marketing