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Giving Tuesday: How Non-profits Can Engage Corporations

5-Nov-2019 7:15:00 AM / by John Paul de Silva

[ 6 minute read ]

Giving Tuesday started in 2012 as a response of sorts to the shopping and consumerism madness that is Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The philanthropic Tuesday (this year, on December 3) is a social media-driven global campaign where all non-profits collectively raise awareness, donations, and volunteer engagement. It's the official unofficial kick-off to the holiday giving season with over 6500 Canadian non-profits and corporate partners raising over $15 million in 2018 alone.

Clearly, there is tremendous opportunity in Giving Tuesday for both non-profits and corporations. Are you excited to kick off a Giving Tuesday campaign this year?!? Inspired by a Blackbaud webinar from Gary Levante, Senior Vice President, Corporate Responsibility & Culture of Berkshire Bank, here are some tips on how to develop a Giving Tuesday campaign and how non-profits can use the event to engage corporations and vice versa.

1. How Non-profits Can Develop Giving Tuesday Campaigns

First is to determine your goals. Typically, raising awareness, donations, and volunteer engagement are intertwined, but determine how much awareness, donations, or volunteer engagement you want to raise. For example, setting a goal of "raise year-over-year December donations by 10%" or "raise $10,000 on Giving Tuesday" will inspire staff and volunteers while giving a clear target to aim for.

Next, determine the story you want to highlight about your non-profit that will inspire droves of people to be engaged on Giving Tuesday and thereafter. For example, a cancer non-profit can highlight the staggering number of children that are dying as a result of not enough research for a cure being done. Or a homeless organization can talk about the historically cold temperatures in early December and yet thousands are still sleeping on the streets as they have no alternative. Choose a focal point and build your campaign around that.

Once that's done, develop the messaging and associated collateral including pictures and numbers that you'll need to really bring your campaign to life. Check out the official Canadian Giving Tuesday website for additional resources. 

2. How Non-profits Can Engage Corporate Partners for Giving Tuesday

Like dating, connecting with another that doesn't share your values won't work in the long term. The same goes for corporate partnerships. Don't just partner up with any corporation. Find one that shares the same values as your non-profit. You can do this by talking with their employees and discovering what causes resonate with them and what their motivations are for getting involved with your cause. Similarly, the values need to be aligned on a business level. Ask the corporation's leadership what their strategic business goals are and determine if they're aligned with your non-profit's goals. For example, if the corporation wants their employees to be more engaged at work through volunteerism and your cause is looking for more volunteers, then that's great alignment.

Once a connection has been established, let your non-profit lead the partnership by providing opportunities for the corporation's employees to meet with your cause's leaders and experience your program firsthand. For example, it's one thing to talk about the great arts programs you're providing for children with autism, while it's much more engaging for corporate employees to actually join in on a painting session with those children. The latter is experiential and will lead to more engagement in the long run.

On the flip side, we can't dismiss that there are more opportunities to support a cause then directly through its programs. Skills-based volunteerism provides an opportunity for corporate employees to engage in an activity that mimics what they do in the workplace. For example, corporate software developers can help a non-profit fix its website or other IT infrastructure issues. This can also lead to long-term corporate engagement with your cause as their employees will develop a sense of accomplishment through application of their skill-sets.


Photo by Anna Earl on Unsplash

3. How Corporations Can Engage Non-profit Partners for Giving Tuesday

As case studies have shown, it's clear that non-profits can benefit greatly from Giving Tuesday. Why should corporations care? Employee turnover is incredibly expensive. It is costly to attract and screen employees. We also know that employees value giving on the job, so developing an employee engagement program that is socially minded should result in lower turnover costs. In fact, employees crave a sense of purpose to the point that they'll take a lower salary in a company that's socially responsible versus one that's not. Another benefit to corporate volunteerism is that it enhances the corporation's brand which may result in more sales and other business benefits.

It's now more clear that corporations can benefit from working with non-profits, but why Giving Tuesday? Giving Tuesday allows corporations who may or may not have existing social impact programs the opportunity to rally their employees in a way that requires less resources than launching a comprehensive program. Perhaps your corporation wants to "test the waters" with a particular non-profit. Engaging in a Giving Tuesday campaign with a partner charity allows your corporation to measure the effects of a social partnership without committing intensive resources in the long term.

Besides the cause-based and skills-based volunteerism mentioned above, other opportunities for a corporation to be involved with a cause include volunteer-driven events, paid time off to volunteer, salary-deducted giving, and a gift-matching program where corporations match dollar-for-dollar what their employees are giving. Another example is how Berkshire Bank allows employees to surprise their favourite non-profits with grants on Giving Tuesday.

Once your corporation has decided to engage in a non-profit partnership, the next step is to get support and buy-in from all levels within the company. Have champions reach out to their internal networks to make the business and altruistic case come to life. At the same time, discover why employees are motivated to give and the causes that empower them. Once a connection to a non-profit has been made, explore what success looks like for all stakeholders. As an example on the corporate side, Berkshire Bank measures twenty key performance indicators to determine how well its social good program is doing from a business and social impact perspective. Using these measurements to tell a story of impact will further engage employees and turn laggards into adopters. Amplify the effect by getting employees to tell their own personal stories of social impact through the corporate initiatives. For example, after Joe from the marketing department handed out warm blankets to a homeless woman with a child, he was inspired to help the non-profit improve its Twitter page which resulted in more online donations.

What's your experience been like of Giving Tuesday? As a donor, volunteer, non-profit, or corporation? What's worked and not worked? Comment below or e-mail us. We'd love to hear from you!

Tags: nonprofits, dataanalytics, datacollection, #6minuteread, corporatesocialresponsibility, corporatevolunteerism, GivingTuesday

John Paul de Silva

Written by John Paul de Silva

Hopeful Inc.'s Director of Marketing