Corporate volunteering vs. non-profit funding


With more companies adopting corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental, societal, and governance (ESG) programs, there’s a growing focus on community engagement, corporate volunteering, charitable giving, and social impact.

Both employees and consumers want companies to give back. 68% of employees think it’s important for their employers to have charity initiatives. And 57% of online consumers believe businesses should contribute to communities. Even investors now demand that businesses step up and give back by creating an effective corporate giving strategy.

Businesses are asking themselves what they can do to have a positive influence on the communities their operations, customers, employees and contractors are part of.

There are lots of ways that companies can support non-profits. Organising drives for in-kind donations, sponsorship, skill-based corporate volunteering…the list goes on. It basically boils down to giving time or money.

So which is best (for businesses and for non-profits): volunteering or funding?

A look at corporate volunteering

ActionFunder has helped thousands of businesses and non-profits connect with each other to build mutually beneficial relationships. We’ve consulted big brands on nationwide corporate giving strategies, helped mobilise volunteers across the country, and facilitated hundreds of direct action fundraising campaigns. And we’ve learned a considerable amount about the best corporate giving programs.

Many business folks ask us about volunteering when we first start working together. They’re often looking for suggestions as to how to get employees to use their individual volunteer days because their team members don’t know how to get started finding the best non-profits to work with. Companies also inquire about organising team volunteer days—what the benefits are, if it makes sense for their team, how to find a non-profit to work with, and how to get the most out of the relationship.

Corporate volunteering has lots of advantages. It’s great for team building. It boosts employee engagement. And it helps your colleagues build a sense of personal satisfaction.

But team volunteer days can take a lot of resources to organise and they don’t always have the financial impact that companies hope they will. We often find that big team volunteer days are better for team building than they are for non-profits.

If your goal is to have as much impact in your community as possible, while still reaping all the other benefits, direct funding is often an even better way to engage with the community.

Corporate funding may be a better alternative for non-profits

Our last Community Action Report showed that 89% of community non-profits need financial support. These groups consistently tell us that they are seeking funding more than any other kind of support.

We asked a few community group leaders about the value they get from corporate donations and here’s what they had to share.

Corporate funding allows non-profits to deliver essential services

“St Luke’s is a neighbourhood charity in south Islington which relies on the generosity and support that businesses… deliver. Our corporate supporters contribute a huge amount to the day-to-day running of St Luke’s Community Centre and without this support, we wouldn’t be able to reach out to as many users or offer as many services meeting so many different needs.” ~Keren Wiltshire, St. Luke’s Community Centre

Businesses can offer much-needed cash injections

“Businesses can provide as a collective what individuals can’t – immediate pools of people…who are able to organise fundraising events as a team…which results in much-needed cash injections for small organisations such as ours.” Rachel Parkinson, Humans MCR

All help is valuable, financial help is always needed

“Businesses can support our project in various ways and all ways are welcome. Sometimes it can be as little as a mention through social media, sometimes it can be volunteer time, sometimes it’s through donations of items, and sometimes through sponsorship or financial help. Each way is well received and holds value to our project. Money always helps as there is always something that is needed to be bought, replaced, or serviced.” ~John Lakey, Poly Rhythm

While everyone can agree that pretty much any type of help is valuable, non-profits often get more out of direct funding than they do volunteer time. Part of this comes from their resourcefulness and ability to accomplish a whole lot with shoestring budgets.

Business advantages of non-profit giving

Many businesses see corporate volunteering as the best way to support local communities while engaging employees and developing meaningful relationships. Direct funding does all that and more, increasing the mutual benefits businesses receive. It can improve business reputation in the community and generate positive PR opportunities. And time and again, we hear companies say that community giving programmes boost employee engagement with the company’s values and purpose. Especially when:

  • The business targets its giving to locations and issue areas that align with the company’s mission, vision, values, and operations
  • Companies get team members involved by setting up ‘judging panels’ to decide which non-profit projects to support
  • Communication leaders circulate change-stories and impact reports showcasing the impact of the non-profit funding
  • You can read more about boosting employee engagement through non-profit giving right here

It’s also much easier and more cost-effective to start a relationship by making a donation than by planning a company-wide volunteer event. Once you’ve found a non-profit or two that aligns with your values and you’ve seen your funds in action, you can expand your partnership from there.

Giving is as easy as 1-2-3

If you’re new to working with non-profits, you might be a little unsure where to start. Adding non-profit giving to your CSR initiatives is simple, especially with a tool like ActionFunder.

How It Works

Our company-to-community giving platform makes it easy for businesses to find, fund, and follow community action.

  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.
  3. Choose which projects to fund and approve them through your ActionFunder dashboard.

ActionFunder is built with ease and impact in mind, allowing businesses to:

  • Create hyper-targeted funds based on location, focus area, and more
  •  Get instantly matched with aligned non-profits
  • Monitor updates, stories, and impact data from the projects you fund
  • Download reports to share your impact with internal and external stakeholders

Companies that use ActionFunder cut the time and cost of local giving by 75%. If you’re ready to make corporate giving part of your CSR initiatives, book a no-obligation demo with the team today.

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