Major gifts, campaigns and special events are the bread and butter for most non-profit organizations. It’s where the big money comes in and where we spend the most staff time and energy. But I wonder what has happened to the smaller streams of revenue that can pad the bottom line. Have non-profits forgotten how to take fundraising beyond special events and campaigns?

Fundraising certainly isn’t easy, but it doesn’t always have to be hard either. Non-profits looking to add some cushion to their core revenue streams should look at things like matching gifts, corporate grant programs and memorial programs. These are revenue options that can bring in significant padding to your income and don’t take much time or energy to implement.

Matching Gifts

I’m always surprised at how many non-profits don’t promote matching gift programs. For those who aren’t familiar with this concept, matching gifts are gifts that a donor gives and their employer then matches. So for every donor that submits their donation paperwork to a matching gifts program, you get double the donation. How fantastic is that?

The best part about matching gift programs is that it requires little to no work from your organization. In most cases, the employee submits the paperwork directly to their employer and the company sends you a check. More and more of these programs are moving to an online format and some companies require you to log in to confirm a donation was actually received. The process is quick, easy and brings money in the door.

Every non-profit should have a reminder about matching gifts on donation forms and online donation screens.

Corporate Grant Programs

The corporate grant programs I’m referring to aren’t those that require you to write a 12-page grant application and submit with fingers crossed. There is a different kind of program that more and more corporations are adopting. It’s a volunteer recruitment program with an added bonus of grant money. You submit your volunteer opportunity to a company – perhaps something like manning a water stop during one of your upcoming walks or bike rides. The company finds a specified number of employees who are willing to volunteer. You get the volunteers and if enough employees volunteer (the number needed varies from company to company) you also get grant money!

This idea is growing in popularity with companies. My favorite company to refer non-profits to for this purpose is Kohls. They allow you to work directly with individual stores instead of going through the corporate office. Their program is called Associates in Action. You can learn more at

The Home Depot is another company that has programs for both outright cash grants and volunteer led programs. More about their foundation can be found at

Memorial Programs

Memorial programs are traditionally participated in by health related organizations and hospitals. Someone who dies from cancer, for example, may request that memorial gifts be made to the American Cancer Society. But memorial programs can benefit any non-profit organization.

Non-profits can create their own donation envelopes specific to a memorial program and ask funeral homes to make them available to families. Many families that are making arrangements don’t have a preference as to where memorials will go. Funeral homes give options to families based on which organizations have contacted them and provided them with materials.

Cultivating a relationship with the funeral homes in your service area can yield a good chunk of change throughout the course of a year. Outside of making sure that the funeral homes don’t run out of envelopes, the maintenance on this fundraising option is minimal. You will want to make sure that you acknowledge each gift that you receive. The funeral home will most likely send you a donor list with contact information for each donation they received on your behalf.

Every organization has its core revenue streams, but who couldn’t use a little extra padding to their bottom line every year? If your non-profit has forgotten how to fundraise beyond special events and campaigns, maybe it’s time to take a look at some of these options.

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