“History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.”
– Bertie C. Forbes
Bertie C. Forbes (1880-1954) was the founder of Forbes magazine. He was born in Scotland, spent time in South Africa, and emigrated to New York in 1904. He studied at the University College, Dundee and then worked at a local newspaper before he moved to Johannesburg, South Africa. When he moved to New York, Forbes worked a number of journals before he would leave to found his own publication. In 1917, he founded Forbes where he remained the Editor-in-Chief for almost 40 years, up until his death. Towards the end of his life, his two eldest children would join him at the paper. In 1942, he also was a founding member of the Investors League.
I am so pleased to share UniversalGiving® was featured in a Forbes Expert Panel article. This article focused on strategies to write successful grant proposal and you can see answers from the rest of the community here. Scroll down to see our response on pairing metrics with a story.
4. Metrics With A Story
“Really show your return on investment and pair it with a person. That means you show how many people you have affected, and then also pull out one person’s story. Then you have the overall results and also show one person’s personal story. A great match of information—informative and inspiring.”
I am so pleased to share UniversalGiving™ was featured in a Forbes Expert Panel article. This article focused on how to receive donations from big-name brands and you can see answers from the rest of the community here. Scroll down to see our response on the importance of consistence communication.
6. Appeal To The Company’s Interests
“To best capture, a corporate foundation’s support, take two tacks. First, follow their guidelines, otherwise, you’ll get knocked out. Second, add something that relates to the personal philanthropic interests of the head of the foundation. They will see you meet the criteria and also care about and are in line with their interests. However, it must be authentic to the grant.”
I am so pleased to share UniversalGiving™ was featured in a Forbes Expert Panel article. This article focused on how to create more creative peer-to-peer fundraising techniques and you can read our response here. Scroll down to see our response on how to use social media to increase awareness.
5. Leverage Instagram Sharing
“This is a great way to attain fundraising but also media awareness. Your friend posts an inspiring photo with a call to action on giving to their organization. You agree to viral it on all your platforms because through Instagram you can also post on Twitter and Facebook. Then you post your inspiring photo, call to action and cause. They do the same in sharing and they help you!”
I am so pleased to share UniversalGiving™ was featured in a Forbes Expert Panel article. This article focused on how to maintain mutually beneficial relationships between a nonprofit and its supporters and you can see answers from the rest of the community here. Scroll down to see our response on the importance of consistence communication.
2. Provide Regular Reports
“Forming partnerships requires communication. If you are about to sign or are in a contract, provide regular reports. They don’t have to be fancy, but communicate your intentions on the partnership and how you will serve them; you can remind them about the value you have provided. The corporate partner can respond and reinforce positively your summary and/or ask for changes.”
Today, we continue with Part Two of Five Reasons Nonprofits Don’t Receive Matching Gifts (And What To Do About It). Part One is available here!
3. They Don’t Submit On Time
Unfortunately, many nonprofits are overloaded with day-to-day responsibilities. They may be entrenched with serving homeless people on the street and concerned with serving others through their mission. They might be burned out from working 12 hours a day. Their heart is in the mission, and they are doing good, but they haven’t submitted the paperwork. This happens all too often.
My heart goes out to these nonprofits, as they sincerely deserve the funds. Yet, at the same time, if they don’t submit the documents on time, they won’t get a grant and often miss the opportunity.
4. Too Many Red Flags
Often, when we approve a grant for a matching gift program, there might be one item that doesn’t meet the guidelines of our corporate partners. Most of the time, our corporate partner will pass the NGO through. But if there are several red flags, the case is built to not approve them. Here are a few examples of what we consider “yellow” flags:
• Overhead is 35%.
• There is no regularly meeting board.
• There is a concern about potential political lobbying.
These yellow flags build up to general concern and a red flag. In that case, too many flags will mean the nonprofit does not get the grant.
5. Lack Of Separation Between Board And Team
It’s wonderful to include some employees on your board; it provides practical experience on your board of what the day-to-day realities are. In addition, when the board makes requests, that team member is able to be a witness to what’s actually happening on the ground.
Yet, far too often, nonprofits stack a board with employees. There is no third-party accountability. Basically, the “board” consists of employees, and “board members” approve the decisions that affect employees. Essentially, employees are directing themselves. This is considered a very grave scenario with no accountability. Often, nonprofits will not receive a grant due to this lack of appropriate governance.
We always hope that nonprofits pass all the tests for receiving matching gifts. As noted, matching gifts are an inspiring way to get employees connected to the community and to get foundations to support your efforts.
As a nonprofit, you can be prepared. Gather together the documents required and put them in a Google folder on Google Docs, Dropbox, Box, Tresorit or OneDrive so that you are prepared anytime these requests happen. We recommend putting in articles of incorporation, 990 forms, your mission statement, board members and other important governing documents.
Thank you to all the nonprofits for all you to do for the world. Thank you to all the employee nominators who help support these nonprofits and to the more than 65% of Fortune 500 corporate foundations that match these employee gifts every year. We’re all trying to make the world a better place!
Did you know that employees can recommend a donation to your organization? It’s called “matching gifts,” where the employer matches the employee’s donation request. And more than $5 billion is given each year through workplace giving programs such as this.
Started in 1954, matching gifts is a program held by corporations that love to help employees give back. This program allows the employee to nominate a nonprofit to which they would like to donate. Once the employee gives money — let’s say $125 — then the foundation of the company matches the donation. Would you be excited if you were a nonprofit that received $250? You bet!
But did you know that many nonprofits don’t receive the grants they’re given? Anywhere from $4 billion to $7 billion in matching gifts goes unclaimed.
This money goes undonated because every year there are employees who don’t nominate a nonprofit and so the company doesn’t match. So, for all you nonprofits that have board members or colleagues at various companies, be sure you leverage the double giving and encourage them to nominate you for a matching gift.
But let’s examine another scenario that is important to nonprofits: when employees do nominate you, and the nonprofit doesn’t accept. Why is this?
Let’s review five reasons nonprofits don’t receive a matching gift. You can take these lessons and apply them to the nonprofit you work for or help a nonprofit that you nominate. In the end, we all want to do good, and we all want to see nonprofits receive their funds.
1. Missing The Right Documents
When you are nominated for a grant from a foundation, they need to receive certain paperwork from you. This might include your mission statement, your 501(c)(3) status, your overhead calculation and more. At UniversalGiving, we have more than 24 stages that we have created for vetting an NGO. It’s called our “Quality Model” and is why we are unique. We allow our corporate clients to customize which vetting steps they apply for their corporate social responsibility programs.
Some nonprofits don’t receive a grant simply because they can’t find the paperwork, while other nonprofits don’t make the effort to find the paperwork. And if you can’t submit the necessary documentation, then you lose the grant.
2. High Overhead
Proper governance is a key factor in evaluating a nonprofit, and proper governance requires fiscal responsibility. That means that anyone who’s donated to you wants to know that the funds are being used wisely. Normally, an overhead between 10% and 12% is expected for top-rated nonprofits; truly great nonprofits are closer to 10%. A nonprofit can have an overhead of up to 25% to 35% in certain circumstances. It’s important to have a guideline, but also some flexibility.
If you don’t have the overhead according to the corporate guidelines, my biggest recommendation would be to share your plans for reducing overhead. If the corporate client sees that you are making a concerted effort to do so, they may still approve the grant.
While overhead is just one component of approval, it’s an important one. Fiscal responsibility and the proper use of each dollar is of the utmost importance in a donor’s mind, whether it’s the employee nominator or the corporate foundation who matches.
Stay tuned for Part Two of Five Reasons Nonprofits Don’t Receive Matching Gifts (And What To Do About It) tomorrow!