Making crowdfunding work

Join the Crowd

We live in a connected world. Many of us spend hours connecting and communicating with friends and family through multiple social media networks. We openly and freely share our moods, our adventures, where and what we ate, how we feel, and a whole lot more.

It is technology that allows us to connect with friends, family, and associates regardless of distance. Facebook claims to have 1.86 billion monthly active users. LinkedIn has 467 million users followed by Twitter with 319 million active users.

With the popularity of social media, growing personal connections with friends, and our openness in sharing, it is no surprise that we see a rise in using our personal networks to raise funds for our passions, causes, or ideas. This is referred to as crowdfunding which is the practice of raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet. In 2015, it was estimated that more than $34 billion was raised through crowdfunding worldwide.

A recent study of the Millennial generation found that people of this age group value their networks as strongly as they value giving their money or their time. It is a proven fundraising strategy that people give to people. Individuals are more likely to participate if asked by a friend or someone they trust.

Crowdfunding is sometimes called peer-to-peer fundraising, one friend asking another friend to get involved. The result can balloon into a grassroots effort.

This type of fundraising is a great way to rally and enlist your friends and their friends in support of an idea, cause, or passion.

In the corporate world, companies are increasingly allowing crowdfunding as part of their internal employee giving programs. Employees are able to post videos or testimonials about their favorite causes and then ask their colleagues to join with them and either make a financial contribution or provide volunteer service.

Some companies allow employees to invite and host nonprofit organizations on their campus to provide them with exposure to their peers. Passionate employees should be on the lookout for opportunities at work and through the employee engagement programs to promote their favorite nonprofits or causes.

Whether inside or outside the walls of the workplace, here are some key things you should know when considering launching a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign through social media.

Crowdfund Good Done Great

Tell your story

A good story behind a crowdfunding campaign is essential. Be able to clearly articulate why this campaign is important to you. Describe the problem you are trying to address and how your campaign will help. Keep your tone and messaging personal to make your friends feel closely connected to you and your project.

You want others to hear your story, and share it with their peers and family. The key is to build a large network of people that can support your cause, and share it with others.

Be authentic

Friends and colleagues need to see that what you are trying to accomplish is credible and legitimate. You must demonstrate how you are involved and why you are asking others to join you.

Create an event

People love to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. Try to build a feeling of excitement and rally others around your crowdfunding campaign by tying the campaign to an action or activity. Consider connecting your campaign to a larger, well known event or holiday. For example, connect your campaign to a holiday, sporting event, or season to increase the momentum.

No one will forget the ice bucket challenge. It got people involved. It asked for action and people reached out and included their friends.

Keep the momentum building

Interact with peers and keep them informed of the progress. Provide frequent updates, thank you emails, social media outreach, and responses to their questions and feedback. Personalize the interaction by providing updates on the progress being made in the issue or cause that you are addressing.

Return the favor

If you ask others to support your cause, expect them to ask you to support them when they ask.

Make it fun

Look for opportunities to inject an element of fun into your fundraising effort. Have a contest, hold an event, join a happy hour, or one of a million ways to interact and make it fun while supporting a good cause.

It’s all about the number

A crowdfunding campaign is about getting larger numbers of people to join the cause. Create something that will appeal to a broad group of people. You need something that will want your friends to push the message forward and expand the circle of people being exposed.

Join the crowd

Invite others to join you and others in a worthwhile cause or venture. Use the power of your networks to do good. Working collectively, you will accomplish much.

Employees move mountains through grantmaking committees

Employee grantmaking committees are a great way to engage employees in corporate grantmaking activities. In 2014, The Conference Board conducted a study of 53 US companies regarding their employee grantmaking committees. The study found that 34% of companies utilized employee grantmaking committees to disburse at least some of their grants. These types of committees provide employees with the opportunity to review grant applications, make grant decisions, and impact the community in a positive way.

Why would a company engage their employees in the grantmaking process?

(1) Build leadership skills

When employees participate on grant committees, they have a unique voice within the company. They are recognized beyond their professional abilities for their civic knowledge, and they have the opportunity to serve as a leader for their fellow employees and their community. When an employee feels empowered in the workplace, they are engaged and produce quality work.

(2) Receive buy-in from employees for corporate funding

When your employees are involved in the decision process for grants, they feel connected to your social mission. It’s difficult to receive support from your employees when corporate giving is dictated based upon C-level opinions on funding. When employees are part of the process, social responsibility becomes embedded in your company’s culture.

(3) Effectively respond to the needs of community members

Your employees are involved in the communities in which your company operates. They are active in their neighborhood associations, churches, and schools. They have an understanding of social issues, and they are passionate about causes and issues. When employees are active in the grant process, they will choose charities and projects that will solve a social issue that is present in the community.

How do you recruit employees to join grantmaking committees?

According to the 2014 The Conference Board study, the companies surveyed utilized a variety of tactics to recruit employees to join grantmaking committees including applications, nominations, and assignments. Nominations are a great way to reward and recognize employees for their civic engagement.

What proportion of company dedicated funds do employee grantmaking committees distribute?

This amount can vary. In The Conference Board study, ⅓ of the companies indicated that the employee grantmaking committees disburse 5% or less of the budget. Twenty-seven percent of the companies surveyed indicated that employee grantmaking committees can disburse over 15% of the budget.

Which companies have employee grantmaking committees?


Nike’s Community Impact Fund (NCIF) engages employees voluntarily in grantmaking. Since 2010, this committee has contributed over $3.2 million to organizations based in and around Nike’s headquarters in Oregon. These contributions benefit organizations that promote youth sports and physical activity. In 2016, they expanded the program to include the communities of all Nike Community Stores.

Nike Community Impact Fund Good Done Great

Nike recognizes the importance of including individuals from diverse backgrounds on grant committees as this allows for better decision-making. (You can learn more about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the grant process here.)

You can read more about the impact and process of NCIF here.

Ben & Jerry’s

Ben & Jerry’s is always on the forefront of social responsibility and civic engagement. In 1991, the trustees of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation elected to allow employees the opportunity to review grant requests.

Ben & Jerry’s believes that employees are best suited to respond to the needs of the community; therefore, they created Community Action teams at each site and the Employee Grantmaking Committee.

Employee grantmaking committees effortlessly combine employee engagement and corporate giving. Employees feel empowered and proud to select organizations that not only align with their personal passions but also their company’s work. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Employees have the ability to enact change, and provided the platform, they can move mountains.

One size doesn’t fit all… but there is a size for all

Corporate Social Responsibility is largely associated with big companies. This is an obvious association since they are more high profile, attract more media attention, and have more resources to devote to CSR and employee engagement activities.

But does that mean that smaller and midsize businesses shouldn’t engage in CSR? The answer is a resounding NO. In fact, smaller companies are driven by the same motivations such as attracting and retaining dedicated employees, protecting their brand and interests, being a good neighbor, and giving back to local communities. It is the right thing to do and is an expectation of both consumers and employees.

While the motivation and importance is the same for both large and small companies, the implementation does vary greatly. Size doesn’t matter in whether a business should engage in CSR, but the difference is in how they engage. It’s not a one size fits all approach.

While the scale might be different here are three tips to get you started:

1. Start small. Allow the program to grow over time.

Like large companies, it is important to do something, but it doesn’t have to be a full blown program like you would see in a larger company. Most of the time, small businesses identify some cause or focus areas and focus their efforts around them. Employee giving and volunteering form the foundation of many small business CSR efforts.

2. Listen to and involve employees.

Employees are the greatest resource a company can offer to address needs in local communities. Let them have a voice in determining the focus, the causes, and how they want to engage. They will appreciate being asked and providing input.

3. Communicate and promote the program.

It is important to promote the program internally to employees so that they know what is being offered and how they can get involved. Make it easy for employees to engage.

The other part of communication is to talk externally about what the company is doing. For years, companies were reluctant to talk about their good works. They were afraid it would come off as bragging. That day is gone. It is important to tell your own story and help spread the message. Employees want to see it, consumers expect it, and your nonprofit partners will benefit from the publicity.

Now that you’re convinced that you need to do something but aren’t sure where to start, here are some basic ideas that can be easily implemented at your small business. The good news is that most of these don’t require a lot of financial resources and are designed to get support and leverage employee involvement.

CSR for Small Business Good Done Great

  • Encourage employees to adopt basic environmentally friendly policies like implementing a recycling program, turning off the lights, and printing less.
  • Hold onsite volunteer activities/events that don’t require employees to leave work. Some companies hold a holiday drive or back to school drive and encourage employees to make contributions and then donate the collected goods to a local school or nonprofit organization. Another example is that you might consider making “care kits” with shampoo, toothbrushes, combs, etc. to donate to a homeless shelter or collect grocery coupons and give to a local food bank.
  • Support and reward employees in their personal volunteer activities. Our company, Good Done Great, gives each employee two hours per month of paid time off to volunteer within our selected focus areas. In addition, the company gives a $250 grant each quarter to a nonprofit in recognition of employees who have volunteered the most hours on their own time.
  • Adopt a nonprofit organization that addresses a cause or need that is important to the company and its employees. Make small financial grants, and identify opportunities to engage employees as volunteers. Set a limit to the number of nonprofit organizations you will support.
  • Hold a company-wide Day of Service. Allow employees to engage with their leaders and peers in a fun volunteer project. Examples include cleaning a park, refurbishing a playground, or creating a new walking trail at a nature center or park.
  • Match donations from employees to causes that have been identified or to their own individual passions and charitable interests.
  • Hold a Hackathon where employees from different departments come together to brainstorm a solution for a problem presented by a local nonprofit.
  • Collaborate with another business that already has a program up and running. Smaller businesses in the same industry are much more likely to cooperate with one another on a CSR initiative unlike their larger counterparts. Small businesses either through the local Chamber of Commerce, local branches of associations, employee resource groups, and other business associations.
  • Hold fun and employee networking in high regard. There are ways to incorporate fun into the workday, and the benefits that doing so can have on employee engagement levels within your organization are countless. I worked for a small business where every Monday the company would provide lunch to its employees. It was a great opportunity to be with peers and to learn from each other. It was also a great way for employees to see the company doing something for them.

CSR doesn’t have to be all fireworks and big world-changing initiatives. Companies can start small and still experience the benefits and rewards that will come. One size doesn’t fit all, but there is a fit for all size companies.

Is variety the spice of corporate philanthropy?

Every company consists of a diverse group of individuals who contribute to an organic company culture. Company leaders work hard to develop a company culture that reflects the values of the organization and its people. Because no two companies are the same, it is important to offer variety in your corporate philanthropy programs.

If you try to fit your programs into a pre-determined box, your employees will view this type of corporate philanthropy as solely ticking off a box. Today, employees demand authenticity in CSR programs. If you purposefully reflect your company’s and your employees’ values, your programs will be unique and impactful.

How can you ensure your CSR programs are authentic and unique? Here are three ways to get started:

1. Map your CSR initiatives to your core business.

Do you publish textbooks? How about promoting education in low-income areas through mentoring or tutoring? Do you provide financial services to wealthy individuals? How about offering a volunteer program that matches your employees with single moms who need assistance in organizing their finances?

When your CSR programs reflect your core business, your employees feel impassioned to contribute, and nonprofits benefit more from your core competencies.

2. Survey your employees to determine their passions surrounding giving and volunteering.

Your employees bring their passions to the workplace. If you allow them to participate in causes that reflect their values, they will feel connected to your organization and appreciate the ability to give back.

3. Engage your consumers in social justice issues.

Now more than ever, corporations are uniquely positioned to raise their voices surrounding the biggest social issues of our time. Take for example, Airbnb who recently launched their #weaccept initiative. In response to the immigration ban, Airbnb offered free housing to refugees and individuals who cannot enter the United States. They received such a positive response to this campaign that they decided to raise the stakes and offer short-term housing to 100,000 needy individuals over the next five years. Furthermore, they agreed to contribute $4 million over a four-year period to the International Rescue Committee.

Airbnb’s commitment to displaced persons not only corresponds with their business but also current social issues that affect their consumers and society at large.

#weaccept AirbnbAfter you develop a CSR program that reflects your employees’ and company’s values, you must determine measurable objectives and goals. With current initiatives such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, measurement and goal tracking are more important than ever.

As you create tailored campaigns, ensure your goals and objectives correspond with the purpose of the campaign. Your campaigns and efforts become more meaningful when you are working toward a common goal and tracking your progress.

Program uniformity is a thing of the past. No longer will employees accept bland campaigns that do not align with your company culture or mission. Once we move past seeking program uniformity and focus on delivering programs that are results-driven and meet our employees’ desires, we will achieve the greatest impact for our employees and nonprofit beneficiaries.

Aligning corporate philanthropic initiatives with employee giving and volunteering

The evolution of corporate giving continues! This evolution has taken us from checkbook philanthropy where companies would sprinkle around grants for various good works to a new kind of philanthropy where proactive giving is closely aligned with the mission and assets of companies.

The latest step in this evolutionary process is to align this strategic philanthropic approach with employee engagement activities including a company’s employee giving and volunteering programs. Intuitively, this makes sense as companies want to maximize all the resources they are putting behind Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. It also makes sense as companies respond to the new workforce comprised of a growing number of the millennial generation.  

The 2016 Cone Communications Employee Engagement Survey found that employees want more than the traditional donation and volunteering opportunities from their employer. They want to be have a tangible and active role in contributing to their company’s CR goals. The Cone report found that 79% of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work. Additionally, 71% want their company to provide opportunities for them to help make a positive impact on the company’s social and environmental commitments.

Companies often struggle with the question of achieving a balance between corporate interests and employee interests. The challenge is to identify cause areas that appeal and serve both interests. Ideally, companies are able to define a company-wide strategy with objectives and causes that address corporate goals and allow employees opportunities to support those same causes or issues.

The Cone research adds a data point to highlight the need for balance. About 47% believe the company needs to find a balance around providing opportunities that focus on individuals’ personal interests and the social and environmental issues most important to the business.

Good Done Great volunteering environmental

As companies look to achieve alignment it is becoming evident that companies need to be successful in three aspects:

1. Defining specific focus areas that are important to the company and support their key business interests.

2. Aligning their corporate interests in a way that employees can be involved and have an impact.

3. Offering support to employees who want to volunteer with their own individual causes.

When it comes to giving and volunteering, employees have new expectations. They view their employers as facilitators for their own philanthropic efforts. A recent study found that employees expect their employer to provide them with three opportunities:

  • Connect them with causes they care about.
  • Allow them to volunteer during company time in both individual and company-supported projects.
  • Conduct an effective giving program that is engaging and empowering.

Volunteer Good Done Great Donations

Employees give priority to giving programs that allow them to support issues and causes that are important to them personally. They place a high value on matching gift programs, service grants in recognition of volunteer service (Dollars for Doers), appeals to help colleagues during times of need, and campaigns to address critical issues or disaster efforts.

Regarding volunteering, employees look to companies to provide them with opportunities to be engaged with their colleagues in company-sponsored and corporate-led activities.

Here are some ways companies make sure their charitable giving and volunteer programs are aligned with corporate goals and objectives:

1. Identify two or three specific focus areas that address corporate philanthropic objectives and provide opportunities to employees to engage through giving and volunteering activities.

2. Consider employee interests when identifying the focus areas. If you don’t know what employees care about, consider asking them. I’m confident they will provide information and feedback. At Good Done Great, employees voted on the focus areas.

3. Communicate the focus areas to employees and articulate why these were selected.

4. Conduct giving campaigns to be built around causes, but continue to offer employees opportunities to give to their favorite charities.

5. Sponsor company-wide volunteer projects where employees are engaged with senior leaders and their colleagues in a meaningful experience.

6. Ensure volunteer programs offer a broad range of opportunities for employees to engage. These include paid time off programs, company sponsored time during work hours, after hours opportunities, and recognition for individual volunteer efforts.

7. Support employees in their desire to use their skills to benefit a nonprofit organization or cause that supports their personal passions and the company’s initiatives.

8. Allow employees to share their giving and volunteering experience via social media networks.

9. Recognize and reward employees for their individual engagement and participation in company-sponsored activities.

10. Build mutually meaningful partnerships with nonprofit organizations. The partnership should allow for employees to engage with the nonprofit to learn more about how their involvement can make a difference.

Charitable giving and volunteering is an essential part of business today. It is important that companies learn to balance and align their programs to successfully integrate corporate objectives and priorities with employee interests and passions.

There are numerous examples of companies that have achieved this balance. We know that giving consideration to the ten suggestions we made, your company will be added to the list of companies that have achieved this alignment and balance.

It’s all in the name: Unique charity names of 2016

We dug through our 2016 giving data and found a few creatively named charities. Can you guess the mission and vision of the following seven charities that received funding through our giving platform this year?

(1) Goodie Two Shoes Foundation

This foundation, based in fabulous Las Vegas, provides children from underprivileged backgrounds with new shoes. In a 48’ shoe store on wheels, the Goodie Two Shoes Foundation (GTSF) serves 10,000 Southern Nevada children each year.  With a pair of properly-fitting new shoes, these children feel equipped and confident to attend school. Since 2003, GTSF has provided more than 75,000 at-risk children with new shoes and socks!

Do you want to provide children with a brand new pair of kicks? Donate to the Goodie Two Shoes Foundation!

(2) Cradles to Crayons

Cradles to Crayons partners with social service organizations to connect communities with surplus resources to underserved communities. The basic goods provided to children include clothing, school supplies, and toys. With these new and/or gently-used items, children feel safe and valued.
Cradles to Crayons partners with over 304 agencies and has served more than 942,000 children. Donate to Cradles to Crayons and provide children with necessities that help them succeed.

Cradles to Crayons


(3) Project Goldfinger

Project Goldfinger works with rural communities in Kenya to assist them in improving their farms and livelihoods. Zellipah Githui created Project Goldfinger to improve the lives of Kenya’s rural women and their families through farming. The organization provides training programs and agricultural support, creating sustainable agriculture initiatives and combating hunger and poverty.

In Kenya, it is said that the work of a woman’s hands can produce the equivalent of gold if they have the right tools and resources. Donate to Project Goldfinger, and lift women and children in Kenya out of poverty through sustainable agriculture.

(4) Lemonade Day

Lemonade Day inspires the next generation of entrepreneurs. This organization empowers youth to take ownership of their lives and become productive members of society.

Lemonade Day is a 14-step process that converts a child’s dream into a business plan while teaching them business principles. Children learn to spend money, save money, and share money by giving back to the community. Since its 2007 launch in Houston, TX, Lemonade Day has grown from serving 2,700 kids in one city to one million children across North America.

Donate to support the future Bill Gates of the world!

Lemonade Day

(5) Pinky Swear Foundation

Pinky Swear Foundation eases the financial and emotional impact faced by children with cancer and their families by providing basic needs support. Steve and Becky Chepokas established this organization in memory of their son, Mitch. Prior to Mitch’s death, Steve made a pinky swear with his son to continue to help children with cancer and their families.

Since 2003, Pinky Swear Foundation has provided support including: rent and mortgage payments, reliable transportation, family getaways, and more. Pinky Swear Foundation has supported 12,233 families and raised over $11 million dollars since 2003.

Donate to help them support even more children and families affected by cancer.  

(6) Mother Bear Project

The Mother Bear Project provides children affected by HIV/AIDS  in underserved countries a hand-knit or crocheted bear. Mother bears, handmade by individuals all over the world, have been sent to 27 countries. To date, 128,650 bears have been sent to children affected by HIV/AIDS.

Donate to the Mother Bear Project to help put a smile on the face of a child in need!

(7) A Call 4 Paws

You probably were able to determine from the name that this charity is all about animals! A Call 4 Paws, based in Jersey City, New Jersey, helps alleviate the shelter and stray population. This charity rescues cats and dogs and finds them permanent homes.

This organization also runs a sanctuary in Jonestown, Pennsylvania where rescued animals are treated until they are ready to find forever homes.

Donate to A Call 4 Paws and provide these furry friends with a chance for a better life!

Which charity name was your favorite? Tweet us @gooddonegreat. 

Consider making an end-of-year gift to one of these deserving charities or to one of your personal favorites! You will bring holiday cheer to those in need.

Looking ahead: CSR trends in 2017

As we enter December and the year-end, it is a good time to think about the successes of corporate social responsibility and employee engagement and look forward in anticipation of what to expect in 2017 and what we can do to take programs to even greater heights.

By most measures, 2016 has been a good year for the philanthropic side of CSR. While final numbers aren’t yet available, total charitable giving is predicted to increase by 4.1% which is above historical 10-year and 25-year average growth rates. In addition, a newly released study by PwC found that CEOs have bought into the value of CSR with 64% of them saying that “corporate social responsibility is core to their business.” Companies recognize CSR as a tool to build trust with consumers, partners, governments, and their employees.

More companies are getting involved, and CSR is maturing within companies. It has gone from a voluntary action to a required function, and companies are embedding CSR within their values and culture. Employees are engaged as champions and serve as advocates for good sustainable business practices and strong citizenship goals and programs.

Companies are uniting behind the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Hundreds of companies are united and committed to using their corporate volunteer efforts to help advance the SDGs.

Donations Good Done Great

With that as a background, here are some things we can expect to see happen, or we hope will happen in 2017.

Charitable giving is expected to have another banner year. One prediction is that it will grow by more than 4% again. This will be two years of above average growth.

Giving by American individuals/households is predicted to increase by 3.7% in 2016. Average growth in personal income is contributing to this prediction.

Consumer confidence is strong. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index provides information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. Consumers’ assessments of current conditions improved in November and increased by 6.3 points to a level of 130.3. It is at pre-recession levels.

With this growth in consumer confidence and with the prediction that consumer spending will increase, CSR will be more important than ever to help companies build their brand and grow and capture new business.

In 2017, consumer-facing companies are expected to reach beyond the traditional employee workforce to engage their customers in CSR activities. CSR will move beyond the walls of the workplace and will include the active promotion, engagement, and involvement of employees, customers, partners, and vendors in their sustainability and philanthropy initiatives.

As CSR continues to mature, the circle of champions within a company widens, and new and unique voices come to the table with fresh and innovative ideas. The circle and sphere of CSR activities will continue to broaden with each company, and more cross department collaboration will increase.

More and more small and mid-size companies will jump on board with CSR and define a strategic focus for their responsibility and engagement programs. Small companies recognize the call for social responsibility and for meeting the needs of a changing workforce. They are capitalizing on the lessons learned over the past decade to build authentic and robust programs of their own.
Small business CSR

Employee involvement remains critical to the success of CSR and continues to be the foundation of most initiatives. Millennials are now the largest generation in the US workforce, and the number of millennials in the workforce is expected to rise dramatically. Businesses seeking to engage employees will need to continue tailoring their approaches to this group. Research suggests they are driven by open communication, a great company culture, involvement with causes, and achieving purpose and fulfillment.

One downside of 2016 is that volunteer participation hit a record low; the volunteer rate dropped to 24.9%. This downward trend began in 2014 and continues.

Companies can be the answer to help increase this number. As you enter 2017, take time to assess your policies and practices to ensure that you have supportive policies and programs that encourage and reward volunteerism. Remember that 77% of millennials prefer to volunteer in a group. Provide them with opportunities to engage with their peers in meaningful and transformative volunteer projects.

The 2016 Cone Communications Employee Engagement Study found that “employees want more than the traditional donation and volunteerism programs when they come to work. They want to be part of something bigger – and that means having a tangible and active role in contributing to their company’s CSR goals. Employees are ready to voice their opinions and roll up their sleeves to make an impact on social and environmental issues important to the business.”

While CSR continues to be defined by each individual company, it is a combination of good business practices, caring for the environment, being a socially responsible company, involving and supporting employees, and being a good neighbor and citizen. Opportunities abound for great things in 2017. We hope you’re optimistic about the new year and committed to moving your programs forward.

Contact Good Done Great to learn more about our technology and consulting services and how we might be able to help you with your CSR and employee engagement programs.

Driving sustainable change through entrepreneurism

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

In 2015, the United Nations launched the Sustainable Development Goals, seventeen goals with identifiable targets to alleviate poverty, mitigate climate change, and empower women and girls.

Corporations, government entities, and nonprofit organizations are working together to accomplish these goals and focus on long-term, sustainable growth. One way to support these goals and spur economic growth is through entrepreneurism.

Several corporate-nonprofit partnerships exist to promote entrepreneurship, business growth, and sustainable social change.

(1) Kiva

Kiva is an international nonprofit organization that connects individuals from around the world through lending to support entrepreneurs and alleviate poverty. To date, 1.6 million lenders have loaned $947.80 million to 2.2 million borrowers in 82 countries. With as little as $25, lenders provide funds to help borrowers purchase everything from charcoal to sell to their community to beauty supplies to sell in salons.

Several corporate groups and small businesses have partnered with Kiva in their employee and corporate giving programs.

Hewlett Packard Company

In 2014, Hewlett Packard launched “Matter to a Million,” a five year program to help fund one million entrepreneurs’ businesses.

Each year, HP employees receive $25 to loan to Kiva borrowers. In 2016, HP employees funded 45,000 loans which totaled $1 million.

Matter to a Million Kiva


Intuit in partnership with Kiva launched a program in November 2015 to support entrepreneurism. The Intuit Financial Freedom Foundation (IFFF) established a $50,000 loan matching program. In recognition of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, half the funds were designated to women-owned small businesses.

By partnering with Kiva, these corporations fuel entrepreneurship around the globe, creating economic opportunity, and engaging their employees in a personal way.

(2) Ashoka

Ashoka is a global nonprofit organization that supports social entrepreneurs and invests in individuals dedicated to finding solutions to today’s toughest global challenges.  


In 2012, Unilever in partnership with the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and in collaboration with Ashoka launched the annual Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneur Awards. These awards recognize young leaders (ages 35 and under) developing innovative solutions to global challenges. The winners receive prize money and mentorship.

The Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneur Awards support Unilever’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneur Awards

eBay Foundation

In 2011, eBay Foundation in partnership with Ashoka Changemakers, an Ashoka program that supports social entrepreneurs, launched the “Powering Economic Opportunity: Create a World that Works” competition. This competition sought to find market-based solutions that provided employment to underserved populations and created economic opportunity. The five winners received $50,000 in startup capital to finance their businesses.

In order to alleviate climate change, poverty, and other systemic challenges, corporate groups, nonprofits, and other entities must work together. With providing individuals capital to fund their business dreams, these corporations are creating economic opportunity, engaging their employees in an innovative way, and contributing to sustainable economic development.


Best practices for a corporate and nonprofit partnership

There is lot of talk in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) industry about corporate-nonprofit partnerships. Such partnerships have become a key component of a company’s CSR and employee engagement programs. However, it’s one thing to talk about creating an effective partnership, and it’s a totally different thing to be able to do it.

A recent survey asked nonprofit organizations to identify some of their greatest challenges in starting and maintaining ongoing corporate relationships. More than 80% report they have difficulty building strong corporate partnerships around employee engagement with their limited staff and resources. Another 90% said that they have a challenge in sustaining ongoing relationships with corporate and other funders.

These same nonprofit organizations understand that strong corporate-nonprofit partnerships can facilitate and achieve mutual goals, but they find it difficult to work with their corporate partners. When a company asks them to do something such as provide a volunteer opportunity for their employees, the nonprofit wants to say yes even if it presents a challenge due to their limited resources. Sometimes they are too eager to please the funder without understanding the goals and objectives being put upon them.

Today, we want to share some best practices for a corporate-nonprofit partnership. Hopefully, you will be able to learn from these practices and avoid the pitfalls that often occur when trying to create a partnership. The goal is to encourage companies to be more strategic in their requests to the nonprofits they work with.

Look at Existing Relationships

Most corporations already have existing relationships with a number of nonprofit organizations. You are making corporate donations, and your employees might be volunteering with the same organizations. There is some alignment already and creating a deeper partnership might make sense rather than trying to identify new nonprofit organizations to engage with and support. Don’t start over, but try to enhance the partnership with your existing nonprofit organizations.

Make the Partnership Mutually Beneficial

The most important part of the partnership is ensuring that there is a good fit between your company and the nonprofit.  Nonprofits are eager to have a strategic partnership if there is mutual value and benefit. Take time to identify the things you want to accomplish through this partnership.

For companies, be clear on your objectives and expectations of the nonprofit. Understand that each party brings a unique set of values and needs. By working together each group can achieve some key benefits that aren’t available without the partnership.

A partnership is two-sided. As a company, be prepared to know what you want to achieve through this partnership. Is it increased sales, more brand awareness, enhanced opportunities for employee engagement, employee skill development, or greater recognition for the good you create in the community?

Be Clear on Expectations and Goals

Once you have identified a potential nonprofit partner that you think is a good fit for helping your company meets its objectives, the next step is to have a detailed conversation with that partner to define what you want to accomplish and how you will define a successful partnership.

Set clear, realistic, and shared goals that will benefit both partners and specify who is responsible for delivering what. Impact depends on what goals you set, so it is important to identify what metrics you will use to measure “impact” or success.

Sometimes success is measured immediately upon the completion of a project, or it may take a few years to measure what is being accomplished through the partnership. The key is to define early in the partnership the objectives and to be clear about what success means.

Corporate partnerships

Be Realistic

Don’t set unrealistic demands on the nonprofit to collect data. Measuring impact should not be about collecting more data but rather focusing on what is absolutely necessary to prove your success. Your nonprofit partner might not have the human capital or skills necessary to collect additional data. Identify what is needed to measure the program’s success. As a company, you don’t want to burden your nonprofit partner. At the same time, don’t be afraid to look to them to help provide some of the answers and indicators of success.

Tell the Story

Both the corporate partner and the nonprofit partner need to communicate the story of the partnership and the impact that is being made by working together. Use traditional media outlets but also encourage employees to push out their involvement and experiences through their social networks.

More and more companies are publishing CSR reports and highlighting their nonprofit partnerships. Your nonprofit partners should be encouraged to use their networks to promote the impact of the partnership. 


It is important to understand the limitations as well as the possibilities of a strong corporate-nonprofit partnership. When built upon clear objectives, mutual responsibility, and identified outcomes, a partnership is a great tool to further both the corporation’s philanthropic and employee engagement objectives as well as the nonprofit’s need for additional funding and volunteers to support their critical mission and programs.

The sum of the partnership should equal something greater than each party will achieve on their own. Keeping that in mind makes it worth it.

Beautifying the community in Puget Sound for Make a Difference Day

Saturday, October 22nd was Make a Difference Day (#MDDay) in the Puget Sound Region. King 5 News Seattle, The Nature Conservancy in Washington, and Lowe’s helped to make this beautification project happen.

This project started a few weeks ago with the removal of concrete to plant rain gardens around Puget Sound. On October 1st, a few members of my motorcycle rights organization, Tacoma Chapter ABATE of Washington, helped remove 3600 square feet of concrete from two median areas surrounding Fallen Rider Outdoor Memorial park in Tacoma, Washington. On that day, our members recognized how sad the park looked. It needed some TLC for when the volunteers returned!

On October 9th, our chapter went to the park to give the space in between the medians a minor facelift. One of our members has been voluntarily mowing the grass at this park for over 15 years and was elated when we all came out to do a massive cleanup. We spent over two hours removing overgrown tree limbs, mowing grass, and raking leaves to make the park look its best for the planting. In total, we removed five truckloads of overgrowth, which we brought to the Tacoma recycling center where they turn it into mulch that gets used throughout the city.

Sarah Volunteer Project

On Saturday, October 22nd, we returned for the final stage of this project – planting trees, plants, and mulch in the rain gardens. Along with 90 other volunteers from King 5 News, The Nature Conservancy in Washington, and Lowe’s, we planted 1600 plants and added 30 yards of bark dust donated by the City of Tacoma to the rain gardens! It only took us about two hours!

We met King 5 News anchor and motorcycle rider Greg Copeland when he inquired about the Tacoma ABATE logo printed on our t-shirts. We chatted about motorcycles of course and how we all could have been out riding on an unusually sunny, 60-degree day in October, but we were all there to lend a hand to help improve the area surrounding the park. When Greg posted about the event on Facebook on Saturday, he gave a shoutout to our group.

Sarah and Leon Volunteer Project


This kind of community volunteering is not new to Tacoma Chapter ABATE. We sponsor a two-mile stretch of Hwy 7 in Spanaway that we have cleaned bi-annually for over 21 years. We also run an annual Santa for Seniors (benefitting Orchard Park Health Center) and Toy Run (benefitting Pierce County YWCA) event where we raise money and gather toys and goods for the seniors and kiddos. We were all overjoyed at the result of the rain gardens and will be on the lookout for projects like this in the future. The season of giving has not yet started for many people, but we have a jump on it by lending a hand for Make a Difference Day #MDDay!

Are you interested in reading more about Make a Difference Day? Check out this post written by The Nature Conservancy.

Sarah is a Web Designer based in Tacoma, WA.