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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

13 important ways businesses can support nonprofits

There’s more to supporting the missions of nonprofits than just writing checks.

13 important ways businesses can support nonprofits
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]

Business leaders—and their team members—like to give back to their communities, and nonprofit organizations are an integral part of every community across the country. Whether it’s a school, hospital, charity, or other organization, each nonprofit plays a large role in supporting others.

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While donating money is always appreciated, leaders may want to do more than just write out a check. Below, a panel of Fast Company Executive Board members shares some creative, truly helpful ways to contribute to the missions of local nonprofits.

1. FIND OUT WHAT KIND OF HELP THE NONPROFIT CAN REALLY USE.

Team up with the nonprofit to understand their real needs and wants to propel their organization. Find out what will make the most impact and co-create a program to support their vision and goals. It might be fostering a strategic partnership; designing a mentorship program; shaping a new product, service, or innovation; or offering up company time toward volunteer efforts during key timeframes. – Val Vacante, LiveArea, a Merkle Company

2. PROVIDE PTO SO EMPLOYEES CAN VOLUNTEER.

Provide paid time off for employees to volunteer with nonprofits and charities that matter to them. As part of our commitment to the Pledge 1% program, we give every employee one day per quarter to donate their time and skill set to a nonprofit. This results in 32 hours a year per employee, or about 1,800 hours a year annually, given to multiple causes and nonprofits by our team alone. – Cody Barbo, Trust & Will

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3. BECOME A MENTOR.

Volunteer your time and give back through teaching and mentorship. This summer, I taught “Bug Bite Science with Bug Bite Thing” over the course of a week through our partnership with Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida. It was an incredible experience to interact with the girls, watch them learn, and be highly engaged in the group’s activities. – Kelley Higney, Bug Bite Thing

4. JOIN AS A BOARD MEMBER.

The best thing business leaders can do is join the nonprofit organization as a board member—and be an active member, not merely a check-writing member. Find out what the organization is lacking and use your assets and skills to help them prosper, which, in turn, helps the community prosper. – Martin Rowinski, Boardsi

5. PARTNER WITH NONPROFITS WITH SIMILAR VALUES AND MISSIONS.

Partner with organizations that align closely with your company’s values and mission. As an innovative tech company that supports many entrepreneurs, we prefer to give back by finding ways to celebrate innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship. That’s why we frequently volunteer with nonprofits like Future Founders, an organization that works with students to teach them about entrepreneurship. – Jason VandeBoom, ActiveCampaign

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6. BRAINSTORM CREATIVE SOLUTIONS WITH YOUR TEAM.

Put on a hackathon. Combine your passion for innovating at speed with your desire to make an impact in the world by hosting a 24-hour, culture-building exercise of teamwork, craft, and creativity, all focused on solving problems for your local nonprofit. Chances are the resulting digital experiences, products, and content will prove as valuable for your own team as they are for the nonprofit. – Barry Fiske, LiveArea, a Merkle Company

7. CREATE A CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY STRATEGY

Build a strong CSR strategy that aligns with the overall business needs of your organization. By doing this, you’ll see great opportunities for team members and staff to volunteer, engage with nonprofit organizations, and give back in more meaningful ways than just providing money. You’ll become a true, long-term partner to the nonprofits that align with your CSR strategy. – Amanda Dorenberg, COMMB

8. CO-SPONSOR EVENTS WITH A NONPROFIT.

Partner with them for events. I have talked about this recently with my own clients. If you want to bring more attention to your event and create a win for a nonprofit, find a synergy and exploit it. Has a silent auction been a nonstarter? Choose a nonprofit and funnel the profits there. Now your event has purpose and prowess. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

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9. OFFER FREE SERVICES.

Offering skills-based services on a voluntary basis or for reduced fees and encouraging employees to sit on boards are two common avenues of support. Cause marketing, a third avenue, is a type of partnership with a nonprofit that can raise the profile of the nonprofit and take in donations based on product and service sales. – Krishna Kutty, Kuroshio Consulting Inc.

10. COMBINE TEAM-BUILDING WITH VOLUNTEERING.

Organize a team-building activity that revolves around giving your time to support a nonprofit organization. This can involve preparing food baskets for a food bank and delivering them to families in need, building and delivering bicycles for underprivileged kids, or painting the walls of key rooms in schools or hospitals. Your impact will not be about the dollars but the hearts touched. – Andreea Vanacker, SPARKX5

11. PROVIDE FREE EDUCATION IN YOUR AREA OF EXPERTISE.

Since part of our company’s mission is financial education, we believe that providing a free education program to help local nonprofits become financially independent is a good initial step. In this way, we can have a long-lasting and generational effect. We need to empower as many lives as we can. – Lane Kawaoka, SimplePassiveCashflow.com

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12. DISCOUNT PRODUCTS FOR NONPROFITS.

I’ve seen many businesses offer their products at a discounted rate for nonprofit organizations. In the long run, this can provide more value than just writing out a check one time. See if you can provide extra services, educational tools, or a meaningful discount to community-based organizations. This creates a positive brand image and helps the community, too. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

13. DONATE A PERCENTAGE OF YOUR REVENUE.

Since launching in 2020, we have been donating 1% of our revenues to nonprofits that align with our mission and values. This has been a wonderful program that has created synergies with partnership opportunities for our members to interface with these organizations. We’ve also built relationships with incredible individuals who are dedicating their lives to these nonprofit missions. – Amaya Weddle, bande

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