For large nonprofits, a dedicated, fully engaged network of volunteers makes all the difference.
Not only do these individuals make it possible for your large-scale events to go off without a hitch, but they also work hard to contribute to your cause by passionately serving their communities.
While volunteers provide a valuable contribution already, did you know there’s also a way to turn their service into monetary donations?
Enter volunteer grants!
Volunteer grants (also called Dollars for Doers) are programs put in place by companies to encourage volunteerism in employees’ communities.
Essentially, companies give monetary grants to nonprofits where their employees regularly volunteer. Employees track their hours and report their service to their employers. Then, the volunteer’s company is able to make a predetermined donation to the organization.
As a large nonprofit, you may already be familiar with matching gifts, another form of corporate giving. Volunteer grants are part of a similar program that also benefits both the company and the nonprofit in many ways.
In this article, we’ll outline some best practices and effective tips for how large nonprofits can secure more volunteer grants, including:
- Be familiar with the most generous companies.
- Design team volunteer opportunities.
- Educate your volunteers at signup.
- Include volunteer grants in all communications.
- Track your volunteer data for long-term success.
So, let’s get started!
1.Be familiar with the most generous companies.
Large nonprofits have an advantage in that they can leverage their existing corporate partnerships and networks to promote volunteer opportunities and secure volunteer grants.
The majority of nonprofits already use corporate partnerships as a method of procuring volunteers. These partnerships are a win-win: nonprofits receive the volunteers and funds they need, while companies reap the many benefits of increased involvement with charitable causes.
If you’re not familiar with which companies have the most generous volunteer grant programs, this list is a great place to start.
You may discover you’re already connected to one of these companies or have volunteers who work for them. If not, now is a perfect time to begin a relationship and acquire new volunteers (and volunteer grants).
If you have an existing relationship with one of these companies, consider reaching out to see how you can further promote volunteer grant programs. Speak with volunteer coordinators to see what volunteer opportunities might be a good fit for their employees.
Bottom Line: Some companies are more generous with their volunteer grants than others, so be aware of which companies could potentially be the most lucrative for your organization. Maximize your volunteers’ time and donations by partnering with companies who make the most of their volunteer grant programs.
2. Design team volunteer opportunities.
Securing volunteer grants on an individual basis is great, but obtaining corporate team volunteer grants can be an even better way to increase volunteer manpower and fundraising dollars.
Team volunteer grants aren’t much different than individual volunteer grants. The main difference is that these grants are given when a group of employees volunteer together. Companies generally offer a greater hourly donation rate or a higher threshold for total funds donated.
These programs are great for companies, since they foster team building, enhance employee engagement, and encourage company volunteering.
These types of grants are even better for nonprofits, especially large organizations who would already benefit from a large number of volunteers.
As you’re planning for your volunteer needs, consider offering team-oriented opportunities, which could include group community service activities or teams of event volunteers.
These programs can also be extended to include group participation in peer-to-peer campaigns. Not only would a peer-to-peer component give your organization yet another way to raise money, but these campaigns are perfectly suited for team participation.
Peer-to-peer campaigns pair well with charity walkathons, runs, or other active fundraising events, so consider adding such an element to your fundraising strategy as a way to draw in more group volunteer grants.
Bonus: Need to find the right peer-to-peer fundraising tool? Take a look at Double the Donation’s list of the best P2P providers.
Bottom Line: Creating team-specific volunteer opportunities is an excellent way to increase your number of volunteers and potentially boost your corporate donations as well. Look into which companies offer team volunteer grants and see how you can implement these programs.
3. Educate your volunteers at signup.
From the moment your supporters sign up to volunteer, you should be going the extra mile to make sure they’re aware of volunteer grant opportunities.
It’s especially hard for large nonprofits to connect with donors and volunteers consistently, so initial volunteer signup is the best time to ensure familiarity with volunteer grant programs.
If you have a volunteer registration page on your website, you can break down the volunteer grant process directly on the page. Make sure your volunteers understand how they can find out if their company has such a program in place, and that they’re clear on the grant submission requirements.
Then, follow up by adding more information in their volunteer confirmation email or, even better, by telling them about it in person at the volunteer site.
If your volunteers are helping with an event, make sure your check-in officials provide them with necessary resources, such as time tracking tools and any educational materials they may still require.
It’s important to mention volunteer grants from the beginning so that volunteers will know to track their hours — a crucial step in the volunteer grant process.
Because these individuals are already actively volunteering, it shouldn’t be hard to convince them to get on board with corporate giving if their employer has such a program in place.
But, supporters can’t participate in volunteer grant programs if they don’t know they’re an option, so educate your existing volunteers as soon as you can.
Bottom Line: Volunteer signup is an ideal time to promote your volunteer grant program and educate your volunteers on next steps. Keep these programs fresh in their minds and follow up to make sure they know how to utilize this game-changing opportunity.
4.Include volunteer grants in all communications.
As a large organization, you inevitably utilize a wide variety of communication channels that connect you to your donors and volunteers.
Although it can be difficult as a large nonprofit to communicate effectively with all of your supporters, there are a few specific channels that you should be using to highlight volunteer grant opportunities:
- Social media. If your organization has a significant following on your social media pages, they can be a great place to advertise volunteer grant opportunities. Have an all-hands-on-deck event coming up soon? Post a volunteer grant educational resource alongside your link to volunteer. The two-for-one promotion has never been easier.
- Newsletters. Themed newsletters are a creative way to educate supporters on new concepts. Consider having your next newsletter be all about corporate giving. Make sure the content is relevant (for example, tied to an upcoming volunteer opportunity your organization has). Don’t forget to include links to more information where appropriate.
- Personal communications. Just because you’re a larger organization doesn’t mean you can’t interact with volunteers one-on-one. Segment a small portion of regular volunteers (or use your CRM to determine which supporters work for generous companies) and reach out to those individuals personally. Nothing will stick out in someone’s mind better than an actual human conversation or personalized note.
The more you get the word out about volunteer grant programs, the more likely your volunteers are to track and submit their hours.
While you shouldn’t make every post and email about volunteer grants, you should be diligent about informing your volunteers on a regular basis. You might miss out on a wealth of volunteers and donations if you don’t.
Bottom Line: By incorporating volunteer grant resources into your regular communications, you can maximize awareness and ensure that your volunteers are taking advantage of these programs.
5. Track your volunteer data for long-term success.
Considering the number of volunteers you may have serving your organization over time, it’s imperative that you know how to best track and analyze volunteer data.
Working with volunteer management software can help you cut down errors in tracking hours and make your volunteer program more effective overall.
Using your volunteer management software’s time-tracking tools, you can easily search to see which volunteers are almost at the threshold for volunteer grant eligibility.
For example, if a volunteer needs to accumulate ten hours in order to submit a grant request at their company, tracking their hours over time can inform you as to the perfect time to send them a personalized email with a note that they will soon be able to submit a grant request (and provide them with a list of volunteer opportunities to do just that.)
Great volunteer management software can also integrate with your existing CRM, allowing you to track other types of volunteer interactions at the same time. Integration allows you to develop more robust donor-volunteer profiles and track your relationships more comprehensively over time.
Bottom Line: It’s especially crucial for large nonprofits to find volunteer management software that works for them. By doing so, you’ll be able to more effectively track hours and market grant options to volunteers.
Volunteer grant programs make volunteers even more valuable than they already are by maximizing both engagement and fundraising dollars.
Large nonprofits are at an especially great place to take advantage of these programs. Follow these easy steps to secure more volunteer grants and make the most of corporate giving!