6 ways businesses can find funds to support non-profits


We’ve talked a lot about why and how businesses support non-profits in their local communities. Besides it simply being the right thing to do, businesses get many mutual benefits. Backing the work of community groups: 

  • Enhances brand reputation, both with local community members and stakeholders at large
  • Increases employee engagement, satisfaction & retention
  • Makes it easier for recruiting teams to attract new talent
  • Supports CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and ESG (Environmental Social Governance) strategies
  • Increases investor appeal
  • Improves customer retention & loyalty

Non-profits and local businesses have a long history of working together for successful corporate giving campaigns. Corporate philanthropy in the UK can be traced back to the mid-1500s. Recent decades have seen a rise in corporate and non-profit partnerships as part of companies’ growing focus on CSR and ESG initiatives. 

The current cost of living crisis is making business support more critical than ever. Non-profits are mobilising to fight rising rates of food insecurity, poverty, and homelessness. And they need support from businesses. 

But where will the money to support non-profits come from?

So, what if you understand the importance of supporting non-profits but your business hasn’t made this part of its annual budget? How can you find the funds to back community projects? 

Bake sales aren’t the only way to raise money. At ActionFunder, we work with hundreds of businesses to help them organise and launch funds to fuel the work of grassroots community groups and non-profits. There are some logical and effective ways businesses can go about finding money for these funds and launching effective corporate giving campaigns.

First, look at current budgets across the company

The impact that non-profit funding can have on your business’s bottom line justifies tapping into departmental budgets. There are three main departments we suggest collaborating with: Marketing, HR, and ESG/CSR teams.

1. Marketing budgets

With the impact that non-profit funding has on brand reputation, marketing may be the first place you want to look for some extra budget. Chances are, your marketing team has dollars earmarked for brand marketing. This is a great way to invest that money. Especially if you work closely with marketing to communicate your social impact

2. HR budgets

The next place you may want to think about looking is the HR budget. After all, 59% of employees are more engaged when their employers invest in charity initiatives. And Millennials are 5.3x more likely to stay at their jobs when they feel connected to their companies’ purpose. (You can check out this infographic for more data about how giving to non-profits can support HR goals.)

Given all this data, it makes sense to collaborate with HR on a non-profit corporate giving campaign fund. Their budget often includes a line item for workforce engagement that they can pull from. 

3. ESG and CSR budgets

Whether your business is using a CSR or ESG model, they both have a pillar for social impact. And giving to non-profits is one of the best ways ESG and CSR leaders can bring their social impact to life.

Get together with your ESG/CSR team to find out how they’re currently allocating their social impact budget. Perhaps they have leftover budget or are simply looking for a more measurable way to make a difference. In either case, supporting a community fund should align nicely with their initiatives. 

Next, get creative with fundraising

If you can’t gather enough budget from your marketing, HR, and ESG/CSR teams, it’s time to get creative and do some fundraising. There are lots of ways to do this. Some of our favourites are product-based fundraising, event fundraising, and employee donations. 

4. Product-based fundraising 

Product-based fundraising is the most common approach we see. It’s simple really. Pick a product and agree to allocate a portion of revenue from its sales to a non-profit fund. You can choose a best-selling product, a seasonal item, or even a less popular product that you’re trying to boost.

Greene King does a brilliant job with its Proud To Pitch In campaign. For every pint of Greene King IPA they sell, they add 10p to their fund that supports local sports clubs. So far they’ve raised £740,093 to fund 211 projects with 56,275

5. Event fundraising from ticket sales 

We’ve also seen some impactful fundraising efforts happen through ticket sales. This works similarly to product-based fundraising, except centred around an event. 

Impact Summit did this with their recent conference. They donated a portion of every ticket sold, up to £5,000, to the Impact Community Fund. The goal was to support local action for people and planet, with a particular focus on tech and innovation. You can see the projects that were shortlisted for funding here.

6. Employee donations

Last, but certainly not least, are employee fundraising drives. These are particularly effective when organised with a give-as-you-earn programme. Some businesses even offer corporate match funding. Meaning, for every pound  employees donate, the company will match it. 

Microsoft launched its annual employee Giving Campaign in 1983. Not only does it allow them to raise a ton of money for non-profits, it’s another way they inspire employees to get involved with CSR initiatives. 

Now for the easy part

Once you know where the budget is coming from, you just need to find and fund some community projects. 

Believe it or not, this is the easy part, thanks to ActionFunder. We make it simple for businesses to find and fund community projects in just three steps. 

  1. Create a fund on ActionFunder. Decide how much you want to donate, the types of causes you want to support, and what geographic area you want to serve.
  2. Be instantly matched with aligned non-profits in your area. You can also use your marketing channels to encourage other groups to apply to your fund. This checklist is a great guide to help amplify your efforts. 
  3. Choose which projects to fund and approve them through your ActionFunder dashboard.

Once you’ve funded a project, you’ll get updates from the non-profit about their work, plus a detailed impact report when the project is complete. This report will help you tie your investment to outcomes so it’s that much easier to get budget next year. 

Find out how ActionFunder can amplify your community engagement programme. Get a no-obligation demo of the platform.

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