Corporate Contributions and Volunteerism
Corporate giving in 2009 totaled 4% of total contributions which is a relatively small, but high profile, percentage of annual giving in America. Corporations traditionally spend a comparable amount on sponsorships that are written off as non charitable business expenses. Some corporations allocate up to 5% of their budget for their employees to provide volunteer and pro bono services to the community. This recession significantly impacted all three avenues of corporate assistance but many corporations are now in a stronger cash position.
As with individuals, some corporations have been more seriously impacted than others affecting their bottom lines and capacity to provide contributions and assistance. Now more than ever, it is important to research, assess, and comprehend each corporation's or business's current situation and outlook to determine if and how best they can provide assistance.
Corporations and businesses generally offer two primary forms of donations: philanthropic donations or donations tied to advertising, referred to by NPS as corporate campaigns. Philanthropic donations may take the form of either in-kind contributions (volunteers, donated products and services, etc.) or cash.
Here are some indicators of current corporate realities and their implications:
Corporations - like individuals - will limit the portfolio of charitable causes which they support. Again, cultivating and maintaining personal relationships are key to maintaining their commitment.
In competing for limited corporate dollars, concentrate on corporations that were not as severely impacted by the economy, seek to be more competitive or expand their operations and markets, have a major presence in your vicinity, market to your visitor demographics, and can most readily benefit from an association with your mission.
With the value of the National Park Service brand, CRM can continue to be a valuable tool to any nonprofit, especially during difficult financial times. Cause-related marketing should be done without use of the NPS arrowhead nor imply NPS endorsement, both of which are prohibited under Director's Order #21. Section 7 of Director's Order #21 provides additional guidance on corporate campaigns.
Corporations are often inclined to contribute products, supplies and services they manufacture or retail. These contributions can range from test products, new product lines, and discounted, outdated or an over supply of merchandise and equipment. During this recession, corporations that downsize, consolidate or cease operations may be disposing of products. It is crucial to ensure the in-kind contributions offered are needed, useful, value-added, and can be cost effectively maintained and serviced.
Some corporations are becoming more willing to donate goods. A large inventory or increased supply with a decreased demand has created this excess situation. Be careful, there is a reason why the company has not been able to sell the items. You do not want to end up with an excess supply of items you really can't use.
Some corporations traditionally underwrite up to 5% of their payroll or individual employees' work time for community service volunteer work. Companies also undertake community service projects through volunteer teams and work days, sometimes as teambuilding exercises. With workforce reductions, layoffs, and lower profits, many corporations can allocate less staff time to community work projects. Parks and their partners will likely have less offers of, or access to, corporate volunteer hours and projects. However, they are receiving increased interest from unemployed, underemployed and retirees.
Remember that some companies are doing better than others. Many companies have the capacity to help and the management and staff that are eager to make a positive difference for select causes that the employees want to support.
Many of the recently unemployed, especially the older workers who are having trouble getting back into the workforce, are highly skilled and have lots of down time that can be put towards volunteering. Some of these people are donating their time and services to nonprofits. The Taproot Foundation (www.taproot.org) is among a growing number of organizations that connect nonprofits with pro-bono professional assistance from individuals.