Workplace giving funnels about $4 billion into nonprofit coffers each year. But as evidenced by the nearly one-fifth decline in the federal employee Combined Federal Campaign last year, nonprofits, donors and businesses must respond to changing trends. Snapshot 2014: Rising Tide of Expectations — Corporate Giving, Employee Engagement and Impact, a report from Chantilly, Va.-based America’s Charities, surveyed 240 nonprofits to find out what those trends were in 2013.
Donors and corporations placed a strong emphasis on communication last year. Four of five respondents said the most important aspects of their organizations to communicate were mission, programs and services. Transparency, strong leadership, number of people served and good governance all had similar scores of 70 percent, 69 percent, 68 percent and 68 percent. Communicating low administrative costs was the least cited response, with only 54 percent believing that to be an important metric for communication.
Drilling deeper into transparency, about one-third of respondents said reporting on stewardship of the organization’s mission, programs and services was the best way to communicate transparency. Around half said the delivering financial information on their websites (53 percent), posting tax returns (52 percent) and detailing mission-related activities (48 percent) were important. Only one-fifth, or 21 percent, said that disclosing salary information mattered for transparency.
Continuing with the theme of transparency, accountability and transparency was the top response for elements of good governance, with 82 percent. That was followed by board review and approval of the Form 990, at 71 percent. Two-thirds said an independent audit committee was important. Formal rules to guide governance and board-approved governance policy mandates rounded out the top five responses, at 66 percent and 63 percent. Conflict of interest policies also was cited by 63 percent of respondents.
Charities were asked what elements of a corporate engagement program bring the most value to their partnership. Matching employee contributions was cited most often, followed by employees being able to promote their favorite charity, financial incentives for volunteering, year-round giving and payroll contributions. “In general, nonprofit organizations value those activities they feel will generate more donations,” wrote the study’s authors.
More than 40 percent of nonprofits reported matching gift contributions are increasing, and almost 80 percent of the respondents said matching gifts drive larger donations. Additionally, “A corporate grant is one of the most highly valued aspects of a corporate philanthropic program, according to 90 percent of respondents,” wrote the report’s authors.
Limited staff and volunteers with a corporate engagement focus ranked as the number one challenge for responding nonprofits, with more than 80 percent of respondents citing it. Sustaining relationships as companies become more strategic in their giving was the second greatest challenge, followed by communicating impact to corporate partners and donors.
“The data suggests charities are better positioned than in the past to engage with corporate employees, but have ongoing resource challenges,” wrote the authors of the study. “At the same time, opportunities are greater than ever to build sustainable relationships and engagement-driven activities.”