5 Keys To Successful Nonprofit/For-Profit Partnerships

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a guest blog from our friend Joshua Schukman at Social Change Nation. It has been gently edited and formatted for the purposes of the RW blog. If you find yourself left with any thoughts you’d like to share or questions that need an answer, feel free to leave a comment below, email us, or reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter. Enjoy!

“Giving back is about leveraging your businesses expertise and talents in a way that fits both your company and the nonprofit you are serving.”

Business Deal

By Joshua Schukman

So you’re a business and you want to give back. This is terrific! But all kinds of businesses try to do this, and for the most part, their efforts range from mediocre to downright terrible.

But why does this happen? Because businesses tend to miss several key steps when they seek to build charitable partnerships. For example, they fail to ask employees what they want to do, or they fail to ask their community how they can best serve. But the most common given reason of them all is that a business doesn’t take the time to find a nonprofit that has some level of mission alignment with the mission of a for-profit. You heard me correctly: as a business, it is absolutely critical that the nonprofits you partner with line up with your business mission in some way. If not, you will get bogged down in a partnership that lacks clarity and fails to engage your employees or the community.

If you fail to build a meaningful partnership at the onset, the results will be devastating. Your consumers will have no idea why you partner with the nonprofits you do. Your employees won’t really care to volunteer with the nonprofit because they don’t understand its cause. The end result? You’ll end up donating a bunch of money while lending nothing of your talent, expertise, and network. The above is no way to run a corporate social responsibility program, but by and large it’s the norm for businesses. The good news is that you can avoid this in your business.

Here are five steps you must follow if you truly want to build strong philanthropic relationships in ways that help you and your community:

1. Line up the partnership with your mission.

  • What about your business mission lines up with another organization’s social mission? For example, financial institutions often partner with Habitat for Humanity or offer financial literacy programming to families. What are some causes you could get involved with where you’d have a natural contribution to make?
  • What are the core tenets of your mission? Do these match with the tenets of a nonprofit’s mission?
  • Look at your values statement – does a nonprofit in your area have a values statement that would compliment yours?

2. Donate expertise.

  • What are some uncommon ways you may be able to contribute skills to a nonprofit? Toyota, for example, in addition to being automobile experts, is well versed in logistics and assembly lines. So they had their employees lend this expertise to a massive food bank in NYC, thereby quadrupling the output of that nonprofit. How might you replicate this in your area or expertise?
  • Could individual departments donate their special expertise? What about your accountants? IT team? Web designers? These are all services in high demand by nonprofits, so why not let those teams choose a cause to which they’d like to donate their time and skills?

3. If you have a product they should be using, get them using it.

  • What do you offer your customers that your nonprofit partners would find useful? In the financial literacy example above, I know of some credit unions who created special accounts with special privileges for families in Habitat for Humanity. What part of your business offerings could you leverage to help strengthen a nonprofit/for-profit partnership?
  • In addition to products that may help a nonprofit’s clients, ask yourself what kind of products and services you offer that may help the administrative operations of the nonprofit.

4. Ask your team members where and how they want to contribute.

  • Could you start a fun interdepartmental competition where each department picks its own cause (see #2)?
  • Could you offer your team members paid volunteer time as a way of encouraging them to choose a cause that matters to them?
  • Could you send out an online survey asking employees where they’d most like to volunteer? How might this lead to increased engagement with your nonprofit partner?

5. Engage your charitable partners as ambassadors.

  • Why not ask your nonprofit partners to promote your work with them?
  • What kind of marketing strategies could you engage to share the story of this cause with your community? How would this grow both your brand and that of your nonprofit partner?
  • Can you create marketing materials for your nonprofit partner that also highlight your work?

Ultimately, giving back is about creating a synergy between you and a nonprofit in a way that increases the impact of both entities. If you follow the steps above, you will put yourself in the elite category of businesses who build a beautiful story of service for their customers and their community.

Joshua Schukman
Chief Inspiration Officer at Social Change Nation
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Workplace Giving & Volunteering: The Stats Your Boss is Asking For

By now you’ve likely seen and read CECP’s incredible annual Giving in Numbers report. Released this week, the report is the preeminent recurring research study of our practice, polling more than 250 leading companies on their corporate citizenship activities. In 54 colourful and well designed pages, the report provides a snapshot of the trends and statistics shaping corporate giving and volunteering.

Now that you’ve read it, you’re probably wondering: How can I use this report to show my boss where we stand? And: How can I use it to back up my request for a bigger budget next year?

Look no further! We’ve done the work for you. Here’s a list of the most relevant stats from the CECP report, why they matter, and what you can do about them.

night office

By Corey Diamond

Among companies giving at least 10% or more since 2010, median revenues increased by 11%, while revenues fell 3% for all other companies.

We now have a definitive link between giving and business growth. We are entering the era of strategic philanthropy – the thought that you can strengthen your business by supporting causes that are relevant to your core business and its employees. Knowing this, you can now develop a more intentional giving and volunteering strategy. The first step is to internally find the right leaders and let them become your evangelists.

In 2013, 86% of companies matched employee contributions to qualifying nonprofit organizations.

Odds are, you have at least one element of a matching gift program. Most likely it’s based on cash contributions with a minimum and a ceiling. You may have a Dollars for Doers program as well. While this is clearly part of best practice, having a program on its own isn’t enough. Knowing that the median participation rates for matching gift programs are 9%, and participation in Dollars for Doers programs is a paltry 3%, you need to ask yourself how you’re going to boost those numbers. Every dollar that gets donated by your company should touch as many hands as possible. Remember: the goal is engagement. If you engage your employees, you’ll drive more participation, leading to maximum impact in the community.

Dollars for Doers participation rates are still too low – only 3% of employees take advantage of your incentive.

We love Dollars for Doers programs. They provide a great recognition tool, providing your employees an incentive to volunteer in the community. Nonprofits win twice accessing time and money, but we continue to be frustrated with the shockingly low participation rates. It remains the Incentive Nobody Wants, because all too often these programs include prohibitive minimums that fail to recognize that most people just don’t volunteer. If you have set your threshold for an incentive at 40 hours of volunteer time, you’ll be missing more than 75% of your workforce, and you’ll only be giving money to people who are already volunteering. Keeping your volunteer match programs a central part of your program portfolio is a good idea, but combine it with a strategy that includes everybody and you can make it a great idea!

Cash contributions shifted from foundations to corporate giving, highlighting a broader industry trend of aligning giving to business practices.

While 79% of companies operate a corporate foundation, growth in cash contributions from 2010 to 2013 came predominantly from Corporate Community Affairs (CCA) budgets. The average CCA cash contribution increased by 28% from 2010 to 2013, whereas foundation cash gifts increased by only 2%. This is further evidence of philanthropy aligning with core business. While this is a good trend, we’re still dismayed that …

Only 22% of companies reported that their company measured the business value of employee volunteerism and partnered with HR to include questions about job satisfaction in employee surveys.

Recent studies have concluded that corporate volunteering programs make better employees. Some companies are aligning volunteering opportunities directly with skills development. If you haven’t already, buy your HR professional a coffee and engage them in measuring the true impact of your programs.

Median giving as a percentage of revenue steadily increased from 2010 to 2013 (now sitting at 0.141%).

Every industry and every business is different. However, benchmarking against a national average provides a bellwether as to the level of your company’s commitment. And it’s not only a commitment to solving complex social and environmental issues; it’s a commitment to your employees and customers. If you can, undertake a benchmarking study to see where you fit amongst your competitors. If you need some tips on getting started, drop us a line via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

Aggregate giving has risen 15%, largely because of deeper investments in volunteerism and product giveaways.

Aggregate giving rose 15% among companies reporting from 2010-2013 to $17.55 billion; 90% of that increase ($2.2 billion) comes from non-cash giving. Companies continue to realize the benefits of unleashing the power of their people and their products to help nonprofit partners. Some companies are going even further, connecting their cash and non-cash giving. Check out Salesforce.com’s 1/1/1 program to see how they are leveraging all they can to drive community impact.

In 2013, 50% of CECP respondents claimed to have a pro bono volunteering program, up from 34% just a few years ago.

The contribution of business services and skills to address complex social issues, pro bono services are typically donated by an employer lending their employees’ skills to nonprofits. It can come in different forms, sending people to a project in a developing country, lending skills to a local community organization, or providing flex time for employees to work on issues close to their heart.

Either way, we’re thrilled about this powerful trend in skills based volunteering. But starting a pro bono program isn’t easy; you’ll need to understand the investment required, the types of skills you have to donate, your geographic or cause focus, and the best methods with which to measure.

Remember that pro bono isn’t for everyone. In fact, it’s perfect for Stage 2 and 3 volunteers, but that likely comprises only 25% of the volunteers in your company. Be careful not to invest too heavily in a pro bono strategy without offering meaningful experiences for people to fall in love with volunteering first.

Providing time off for volunteering is the most effective tactic to increasing employee satisfaction.

The breakdown of responses from 135 giving professionals asked about the most effective socially motivated tactic for increasing employee satisfaction is as follows:

  • Volunteer time off: 47%
  • Year-round matching gifts: 22%
  • Communicating internally about signature programs or large grants: 21%
  • Matching gift events (e.g., United Way Campaigns): 9%

As we’ve written, there are four conditions for a successful corporate volunteering and giving program. Structure is one of those conditions. Have you developed the right policies and tools to make it as easy as possible for your employees to volunteer? Is it time to revisit your existing program to avoid volunteer fatigue? Never let your program get stale; your employees are changing, their habits evolve with advances in technology, and it may be time to develop the right structure to address this.

There are many more nuggets to be found in the CECP report. We trust this can help you build your business case to expand your program next year. We’re always happy to help, so give us a call, email us, or reach out on Twitter or Facebook if you’d like to discuss anything!

Corey Diamond
Partner, Business Operations
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What is Skills-Based Volunteering?

Like most industries, the practice of corporate citizenship has a set of rules and unwritten codes. For example, there’s a general agreement that the path to deep community impact is through practicing strategic philanthropy. And you inherently know that you need to engage your co-workers with issues that are close to their hearts. You also know you don’t have the budget to make that happen, and if you could just get off those incessant conference calls ….

There are also some things that you’re expected to just know, but deep down you’re not sure if you have it right. So you do the best you can; you answer questions, hope you didn’t lead anyone astray, and get back to your conference calls.

installing siding on a house

By Corey Diamond

Skills-based volunteering is one of those loosely defined areas of our practice that can sometimes confuse people. I have spoken to several practitioners about their definition of skills-based volunteering and the answers are all over the map. It made me think that if we’re going to advance this practice, we’d better agree on some basics.

So let’s answer the question: What is skills-based volunteering?


any time someone uses their abilities, talents, networks and resources to get a volunteering commitment completed.

This may or may not include pro bono volunteering, which takes a skill that is used every day in your job and applies it to work to address a complex social or environmental cause.

Points of Light suggests that skills-based volunteering comes in all shapes and sizes, including:

• Individual volunteers, corporate paid/unpaid volunteers, loaned executives, interns
• Projects completed in a day; short, medium or longterm projects
• Activities performed during working hours or on individual time
• Planned in advance or spontaneous projects such as disaster response
• Application of all types of skills and talents from professional experience to hobbies
• Content from nonprofit infrastructure efficiency effort to direct “in the field” projects
• Local impact to national and international

Why It’s Important

Most companies see the value in harnessing the power of their employees to support community issues. The days of trotting out the CEO to hand out an oversized cheque are being replaced by activities that are perceived as less newsworthy, such as accountants helping nonprofits develop spreadsheets and engineers teaching kids STEM education. Despite this, the Taproot Foundation reports that just 3% of nonprofits have access to the services they require.

Clearly, connecting your employees’ passions to the causes they care about can be fulfilled by tapping into their skills, not just their wallets. And the impact of the volunteer engagement can drive stronger community impact.

The role of the employer is key here. Remember that 75% of Americans don’t volunteer at all. Encouraging skills-based volunteering among your employee base regardless of whether it’s during work time can help bring that alarming statistic down. You now have another way to get people excited about getting involved in the community.

But skills-based volunteering isn’t for everyone. It is great for 2nd and 3rd stage volunteers but it is not as compelling for 1st stage volunteers. In fact, it can be overwhelming for first time volunteers and may prevent them from trying the program at all. It’s best to provide great experiences for first timers, and skills-based opportunities for those who are ready to try something that requires a little more commitment.


Some examples of companies supporting skills-based volunteering:

IBM Corporate Service Corps
This program increases IBM’s understanding and appreciation of growth markets while creating global leaders who are culturally aware and possess advanced teaching skills. The Corporate Service Corps offers a triple benefit: leadership development for IBMers, leadership training and development for communities, and greater knowledge and enhanced reputation in growth markets for IBM.

PepsiCorps is a skill-based volunteer program in which associates from around the world form teams that are deployed to help local communities address societal challenges. In 2012, associates from Lebanon, Pakistan, Spain, Turkey, the UAE, and the US participated in PepsiCorps, with one team working with a local community in India to improve and promote rainwater harvesting, while the other team worked with a Native American community in New Mexico to plan and build a community garden to encourage healthy eating habits.

In addition to its formal $50 million pro bono program, which enables Deloitte to serve the nonprofit sector just as it serves its clients, Deloitte has also pioneered a new model of executive management training for local nonprofit executives called the Deloitte Center for Leadership & Community (DCLC). Launched in 2007, it has been recreated in a number of Deloitte offices around the country including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, San Jose, and Washington, D.C. To date, more than 300 executives have participated.


Here are three trends driving more skills-based volunteering globally:

1. Educating and Engaging
I recently spoke to a senior person at a high tech company who told me the perception is that skills-based volunteering is for “lawyers who do pro bono work”. She’s right. Most people don’t know that they even possess skills that can contribute to helping solve social and environmental issues. The best way to educate your co-workers about skills-based volunteering opportunities is to use your volunteer champions to spread the word. Encourage them to host a not-your-Grandma’s-same-old-volunteering lunch and learn; or better yet, bring some NGO partners in and explain the impact skills-based volunteering can have. But remember: carefully plan these sessions in concert with engaging people in a meaningful volunteer experience. It is difficult for us to absorb new knowledge if we haven’t yet experienced it.

2. The Role of HR
We’re big boosters of the strategic inclusion of HR professionals in volunteering. Incorporating skills-based volunteering in your basket of employee engagement offerings has a spinoff effect that fits nicely with HR’s priorities. If you haven’t already, buy your HR director a coffee and see how you can knit your programs together.

3. Integration
The best corporate citizenship programs seamlessly integrate all elements to encourage as many people as possible to participate. Salesforce.com does this extremely well by connecting their product donations to opportunities for NGOs to access employees as mentors. More than 23,000 nonprofits have received free Salesforce.com products and have accessed more than 8,000 hours of employee time to help use the tool.

Now that you’re up to speed on the power of skills-based volunteering, we’d love to hear how you’re going to use it to drive social change in your part of the world. If you’re using it already, tell us about that too. Leave us a comment or drop us a line via contact@realizedworth.com and keep the conversation going. You can also connect with us on Twitter and Facebook.

Corey Diamond
Partner, Business Operations
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IVCO Lima, 2014: We’ll Be There … Will You?

We attend a lot of conferences all over the world to learn from our peers, but often, like at this year’s IVCO, we go as speakers to share our experiences in the field. We hope to see you there!

Speaker at Business Conference and Presentation.

By Christine Johnston


IVCO, the annual conference on international volunteering, is being hosted in Lima, Peru, by the International Forum for Volunteering in Development (Forum), World University Service of Canada (WUSC), and the Center for International Study and Cooperation (CECI), October 19-22.

I will have the honour of attending and speaking at the conference this year along with high-ranking multi-sector delegates from all over the world involved in the field of international volunteering and development.

The theme for this year’s conference is Volunteering in a Convergent World: Fostering Cross-Sector Collaborations Towards Sustainable Development Solutions. This identifies with Realized Worth’s client work as well as its involvement in Impact 2030, the first private sector led initiative aiming to bring stakeholders from all sectors together to align corporate volunteer efforts with the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

3 Sessions Not to Miss

1) Post-2015 Volunteering Working Group Report on Forum Advocacy Work: Mainstreaming International Volunteering in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

On the morning of Monday, October 20th, Gill Greer, CEO of VSA and ExCom Member of Impact 2030, will be joined by Barbara Hogan, Director of International Volunteering at Cuso International, and Adjmal Dulloo (Post-2015 Agenda Working Group Volunteer, International Forum for Volunteering in Development) in speaking about current discussions surrounding the Post-2015 Development Agenda within UN, member states and civil society networks. Most markedly, the panelists will be exploring the possibility of a draft IVCO 2014 Lima declaration shaping the role of international volunteering contributions to the Post-2015 SDGs.

2) Innovative International Volunteering Programs to Engage the Business Sector in Sustainable Development

This is one of many exciting breakout sessions that the conference is offering this year. On the afternoon of Wednesday, October 22nd, this session will discuss the innovation potential FK Norway and Uniterra see that private sector partnerships offer for sustainable development initiatives. Among the 5 panelists will be the wonderful conference organizers Mary Beshai, Senior Advisor, Strategic Partnerships, WUSC, and Sylvain Matte, Senior Advisor, Strategic Partnerships, CECI. The discussion will be moderated by Gill Greer, who again brings a wealth of knowledge to the discussion herself.

3) Creating Shared Value: Myth or Reality?

Finally, I will be speaking on the morning panel on Wednesday, October 22nd, discussing the benefits and challenges of Shared Value as an innovative approach to international development. I will be joined by moderator Wendy Harris, CEO of CESO and fellow panelists Lelemba Phiri, Zambia Regional Director, Zoona, and Luis Eduardo Salcedo (COOFINEP, RIPRESS, y Asemblea Permanente de la Sociedad Civil por la paz) to discuss whether Shared Value is the best solution, or if there are better methods of value creation between society’s sectors and community.

What else?

There are many more incredibly interesting and dynamic sessions being offered at this year’s IVCO. Find the full conference schedule here.

Join us!

If you are now convinced that this is the can’t-miss event that it is, register here now.

If you can’t be with us in Lima, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter next week as I live-Tweet the conference. Also, stay tuned afterwards for my followup blog highlighting the lessons learned and dynamic discussions shared at IVCO.

Thoughts? Comment or send your questions below, email us via contact@realizedworth.com, or connect with us on Twitter and/or Facebook. We would love to hear from you!

Christine Johnston
Consultant, Project Manager, Realized Worth