You’ve Never Heard of Volunteer Grants?! Learn the Basics
Let me ask you a question.
Have you ever heard of volunteer grants?
Okay, better question:
Do you know what volunteer grants are and how to get them for your nonprofit?
You might already have an idea of how volunteer grants work, and perhaps occasionally even receive these grants for your organization. But let’s be honest: there’s probably a lot more we can do to maximize revenue from this channel.
That’s why we’ve put together this awesome guide to walk you through the basics you need to know to set your nonprofit up for success.
Because let’s be real: every extra dollar helps get you closer and closer to meeting your goals.
Without further ado, let’s get right to it!
So you might not know what volunteer grants are…
…or you might have an idea already. Either way, we’re going to break it down for you.
Volunteer grants are just one of many types of corporate giving programs. For this one, employers provide monetary grants to organizations where their employees volunteer on a regular basis.
So basically, if your nonprofit has a dedicated volunteer who devotes 15 hours a week to your organization, and their company offers volunteer grants, the company will pay you for those hours.
It’s worth mentioning that it doesn’t have to be 15 hours a week. Many companies have different hour requirements that can be met over a specified period of time. That’s just one example!
So in a nutshell, here’s how volunteer grants for nonprofits work:
First, an individual volunteers with your nonprofit. This can include performing office-related tasks, volunteering virtually, or any other roles your organization offers.
Second, that individual looks up their eligibility for a volunteer grant from their employer.
Third, if they find out they’re eligible, great! They can submit a request for a volunteer grant from their company.
And fourth, once the company has verified the hours with your nonprofit, your organization gets a check!
So what does it take to get a volunteer grant? Companies will vary by their requirements, but in general there will be a minimum number of hours that must be volunteered—sometimes within a year, or within each quarter—and the company will either pay by the hour, or provide a set amount once a threshold has been met.
That means some companies pay $25 per volunteer hour, while others might pay a set $500 after 40 hours have been contributed.
Seems pretty great, right? Unfortunately, a lot of nonprofits aren’t spending much time trying to get volunteer grants. It’s easy to let this opportunity fall to the wayside when you’ve got dozens of other things on your plate. And most volunteers don’t even know whether they’re eligible or how to check. But tapping into this type of corporate philanthropy is so worth it.
Wait…but what about Dollars for Doers?
Good point! Dollars for Doers is just another name for volunteer grants. In fact, there are a few names these programs go by:
- Volunteer Grants
- Dollars for Doers
- Matching Time Programs
- Dollar for Hour Programs
- Grants for Time Programs
Regardless of the name, the concept is the same: monetary grants are given to your nonprofit for the volunteer work you’re already getting.
Listen to those volunteer grant statistics!
If you’re still not sold on the idea of volunteer grants, we’ve pulled together some key statistics that demonstrate how important (and common!) these programs actually are.
- 40% of Fortune 500 companies offer volunteer grant programs.
That is a huge percentage. And that’s just Fortune 500 companies. There are plenty of other businesses and corporations that offer some sort of volunteer grant program.
- 80% of companies with volunteer grant programs give between $8-$15 per volunteer hour.
Those dollars add up! If you have a dedicated group of volunteers, and many of them are eligible for volunteer grants, those accumulated hours will offer you a nice sum.
- The average corporate volunteer participation rate is 33%.
So about a third of corporate employees are volunteering. That means the chance that your volunteers work for companies with volunteer grant programs is pretty decent.
Source: Double the Donation Volunteer Grant and Volunteering Statistics
Reap the benefits of volunteer grants!
You’ve probably guessed by now, but there are so many benefits that come with volunteer grants. Aside from the obvious—getting extra money for your organization—volunteer grants are also great for individuals, companies, and the nonprofits they help.
For individual volunteers, these grants allow them to make an even bigger impact with the hours they give to your nonprofit. They already care about your mission and purpose; now they get to give you twice the support through one avenue.
For companies, offering volunteer grants that employees take advantage of means the company gets to maintain a positive public image. It also means their consumers and employees will be happier to work with them.
For nonprofits, you get to reap the benefits of building stronger relationships with both companies and volunteers. Your volunteers know the impact they’re making and will want to keep working with your organization. And company relationships could even turn into sponsorships or other regular programs!
Some companies offer team volunteer grants, where groups of employees from the same company can volunteer together at a nonprofit, and they can get a grant for that too!
There are many ways volunteer grants can help everyone involved. Why not take a step back and think about how they might help your organization in particular?
Manage your volunteers like a pro.
Volunteer grants are awesome for building relationships with your supporters, but part of getting a volunteer grant means communicating with volunteers and making sure they know how to submit those requests to their employers.
If you want to be successful at this, you’ve got to manage your volunteers like a pro.
First, start with the recruitment process. This is where you promote all the amazing work your volunteers get to do and offer up opportunities to get involved.
Second, engage your existing volunteer base and match them with roles they can do well and that they’re interested in.
Third, make sure they log all of their hours and encourage them to look up their eligibility for a volunteer grant.
Lucky for you, there’s corporate giving software out there that can give you easy access to a database of thousands of volunteer grant programs. This software comes with search tools you can embed anywhere on your website, so when volunteers type in the name of their employer, they’ll immediately see their volunteer grant guidelines.
Here’s an example of such a search tool:
And fourth, be sure to recognize your volunteers for a job well done! Thank them for requesting a volunteer grant, and thank them again when you receive it. Showing encouragement and how much you value their time and efforts will keep them coming back.
Managing volunteers can seem like a lot just on its own, but if you have a good process in place to track their hours, communicate with them, and keep them engaged, you’ll build up more loyalty and qualify for many more volunteer grants than you would’ve before.
How about some examples?
Some of us are visual learners, so here are some of the top companies with volunteer grant programs to give you an idea of how much businesses put toward corporate philanthropy.
Verizon’s Volunteer Grant Program
Verizon offers a Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP), which awards $750 to an organization after an employee volunteers 50 hours with that organization. Even better, Verizon employees can request up to two of these grants per year.
Microsoft’s Volunteer Grant Program
Microsoft has another pretty generous volunteer grant program. With no minimum hours required, Microsoft employees can earn $25 per hour they commit to a nonprofit.
ExxonMobil’s Volunteer Grant Program
ExxonMobil is a great example of a company with multiple volunteer grant programs. For their individual volunteer grant program, employees can get a $500 grant after volunteering 20 hours with an organization—and they can request up to four of these grants per year!
This company also offers team volunteer grant opportunities. Once a team of five or more employees volunteers for a total of at least 20 hours, they can receive a grant of $500. Employees are limited to $2,000 in grants per year, while individual organizations are limited to $5,000.
It’s pretty obvious that, while a lot of these programs vary from company to company, they’re still effective and can significantly boost the amount of money your nonprofit brings in.
Pro Tip: If you’re having trouble keeping track of all these companies and their volunteer grant programs, try a volunteer grant database! This software keeps up with both volunteer grant programs and matching gift programs.
So…how can you tap into these volunteer grants?
And now, the big finale! Now that you understand the basics around volunteer grants for nonprofits, it’s time to put all of that knowledge into action.
Let’s build on what we already know:
Many companies offer a variety of volunteer grant programs, so consider creating individual and team volunteer opportunities. Plan for group community service projects or create teams for your events. This will then boost the number of volunteers you get from a company, increase the grant money you receive, and build a long-term relationship with the company they came from.
Many volunteers don’t know whether they’re eligible for a volunteer grant at all, and many nonprofits don’t track their volunteers’ employer info. So consider educating your volunteers from the start to encourage them to check their eligibility. This can mean adding details about the volunteer grant process to your website or registration page, embedding a search tool into your site that they can use to look up their employer’s program, and adding this same info to your communication channels.
Many long-term relationships between companies and nonprofits start with small volunteer or donation opportunities. So consider taking advantage of corporate partnerships when you can. A lot of companies are into corporate social responsibility (CSR) these days, so think about companies whose values align with your mission and goals and see if they’re willing to partner with you. This partnership can include getting volunteers sent out to your organization and receiving grants for those hours. With the support of a company, you’ll have even more resources available to serve your mission.
Intrigued? Do some more research on volunteer grants!
Tapping into volunteer grants doesn’t have to be daunting. The more knowledge you arm your team with, the more successful you’ll be.
We hope this guide has helped your organization realize all the untapped volunteer grant opportunities you can benefit from! If you want to continue your research, we’ve handpicked some great resources to get you started:
- 14 Important Questions to Ask About Matching Gifts. Matching gifts are another common type of corporate giving program. Learn the essentials with our guide.
- Top 10 Volunteer Grant Companies: Increase Corporate Dollars. Looking for even more of the top volunteer grant companies? We’ve found the list for you.
- Corporate Philanthropy: A Comprehensive Guide for Nonprofits. All of the giving programs we’ve mentioned fall under a bigger umbrella: corporate philanthropy. Learn more about what that means with this guide.