9 ways businesses can honor National Nonprofit Day

If there’s one thing most of us learn about life, it’s that you have to be mindful of doing good.

As a business owner or manager, it’s easy to get caught up in daily operations and focus on budgets and bottom lines and employee schedules and…forget about the good things going on in your community.

Nonprofit organizations are the face of all of those good things, and National Nonprofit Day is set aside to help us be mindful about remembering and celebrating what they do.

What Is National Nonprofit Day?

National Nonprofit Day, celebrated on August 17, is your chance to applaud those who are doing amazing things in your community.

Founded by author and speaker Sherita J. Herring in 2017, National Nonprofit Day brings attention to the importance of nonprofit organizations, and all of the vital services they provide. From community food banks and affordable housing, to legal services and education, nonprofit organizations provide an incredibly large variety of necessary help that would otherwise be unmet by corporations and governmental agencies.

There are 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States, with over 64 million volunteers helping to keep these organizations running. That means that about 25% of people in the United States do some kind of volunteer work each year. 

There’s clearly a volunteer spirit, but there is also room to grow, especially considering the important and labor-intensive work nonprofits provide the nation each year. 

While most giving to nonprofits occurs during December, the opportunity to highlight and support these organizations exists all year around.

How to recognize National Nonprofit Day

Everyone is free to celebrate National Nonprofit Day, and many people who are involved in nonprofits take the day to bring attention to their organization, what they are doing, and to let people know how they can join in. Nonprofit organizations do so much good, and definitely deserve some attention. 

But wouldn’t some action by those outside of the nonprofit realm be better than simply a one-day salute to the importance of nonprofits? 

By making National Nonprofit Day a focus of your business, you can increase the attention and also give your employees and customers a chance to get involved in doing good. Even better, you might get someone interested in volunteering at a nonprofit who hadn’t given it a thought before.

There’s no shortage of creative ways to celebrate National Nonprofit Day, but here are a few to get you started.

Make a donation to a nonprofit

The easiest way to help a nonprofit is to make a donation to them.

Some businesses build donations into their pay by letting employees choose organizations they’d like to make a charitable donation to directly from payroll deductions. Others let employees donate to their favorite organization knowing that you’ll match it and double their giving power.

A different approach would be to have your employees pool together personal donations, or hold a publicized fundraising event, with the final donation coming from (and possibly matched!) by you, their employer.

Not only is it a great way to raise public awareness, but it might spur a good-hearted competitiveness that results in robust donations to worthy causes.

Ask employees about their favorite nonprofits

With 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S. alone, there are clearly many you and others aren’t aware of.

But your employees might be.

Why not celebrate National Nonprofit Day with a special lunch or in-house event where employees can share their favorite nonprofits? Or, survey your employees ahead of time so that you can plan events for the day knowing which nonprofits are of interest to your team.

This is both a great way to discover nonprofits you and others may not have been aware of, but also find out more about your employees and their interests. It can be a great team-building exercise, and also give you a better understanding of what issues concern your employees.

You may even want to provide an opportunity for community members and customers to share their favorite nonprofits, or even vote for the nonprofits they think are making the biggest difference in their community.

Thank volunteers

Remember how many volunteers are giving their time nationally? Chances are pretty good that you have some on staff.

This is a great chance to highlight them for their good work, and to thank them for all they do. Feature them on your blog, your social media, or even in your in-house publications or communications.

Don’t just stop with staff, though. 

Let your employees nominate community volunteers they know of who are making a big difference, and feature them as well! 

By highlighting and thanking volunteers, you not only give them much-deserved accolades, but you also draw attention to the nonprofits they are giving their time and energy to. It might inspire others to volunteer or become involved in those nonprofits.

Thank donors

People who give generously to nonprofits deserve to be publicly thanked (unless they’ve requested anonymity). Recognition of donors for their participation in specific events or year-round giving can be done much like you thanked your volunteers.

Highlight who they are, and what they’ve given. Interview them to give them a chance to voice why they donate, and maybe inspire others to do so. 

Promote education on community issues

Every community is unique, and National Nonprofit Day gives you the perfect opportunity to educate your employees and customers on the issues impacting people where they live.

If you’re not sure where to start, consider what your employees told you regarding their favorite nonprofits. Ask your employees what they think are the most important community issues. Have brainstorming sessions on ways you could educate the community and each other. Perhaps you will:

  • Bring in an expert or someone from a nonprofit to share information with employees. Provide a free lunch or make it a fun venue for all to enjoy.
  • Have an open house or nonprofit fair where community members can meet the leaders of these organizations and find out what they do and why.
  • Host a banquet, BBQ, or street fair and invite volunteers and donors to be guests of honor, giving the community a chance to learn what they do.
  • Feature relevant content on social media and other digital platforms.
  • Highlight those who have been helped by nonprofits, giving a face and real-life story to the issue.

Education and awareness are the first step towards getting people involved or supporting nonprofit organizations, and you have a platform and audience that can make a difference.

Partner with local nonprofits

Give your employees a chance to help out local nonprofits, both on National Nonprofits Day, and after. 

The average volunteer gives nonprofits about 137 hours of work each year. Would your employees even be able to do this if they wanted to?

Contact these nonprofits and find out how they could use the most help. It might be in fundraising, sorting donations, or serving a hot meal. Then, let your employees know and open the door for them to help out. In this way, you can give them a chance to find out where they might want to get involved without worrying about losing hours or vacation time at work.

Use social media to enable participation

Be sure to celebrate the day on social media and let your customers and followers know both what your team is doing and how they can join in supporting or cheering them on.

Using the hashtag #NationalNonprofitDay, you can provide them with an avenue to participate, donate, or pay it forward. Provide donation links, websites of your employees’ favorite nonprofits, or even information on local events where they can give back.

Remove barriers to helping nonprofits

It’s good to celebrate a national day, but what do you do afterwards?

If celebrating and encouraging partnerships with nonprofits is new to you, or isn’t something you do much of outside of seasons or promotional days, let this year be the start of a culture shift. 

Not only can you simply encourage employees and customers to do good alongside nonprofits all year, but you can actually enable them by removing barriers that keep them from participating.

  • Integrate online giving. Almost 10% of donations come from mobile devices. Do you make it easy for people to give online through your app or website?
  • Be a drop-off point. Are there local nonprofits who could use some help finding locations for donation drop-offs, or monetary donations? Get on the map and become just that place where people come to help their favorite nonprofit.
  • Regularly feature nonprofits. If you’ve found out what nonprofits your employees like, have you considered featuring a new nonprofit each week so both employees and customers can give to them through your online platforms or in-store POS? Could you make it easy to roundup customer totals and donate to the featured nonprofits if they wanted?
  • Have nonprofit-focused benefits. Included in your employee benefits could be options that allow employees to volunteer some time at a local nonprofit and not take vacation time, or even be paid their regular wage during that time. You have many employees with skills that nonprofits need, and would love to have access to. By paying your employee, you are donating their skills to the nonprofit.

Jumpstart a season of giving

As we said earlier, most donations are made in December. Why not start a season of nonprofit focus and giving with August 17 as the kickstart?

As a brand, you can do this by:

  • Planning community events, both in-person or online, to strategically keep the focus on nonprofit activity. 
  • Regularly featuring nonprofits and working with them as they gear up for the December seasonal push. Ask how you can help them meet their yearly goals.
  • Creating content, products, or services that are themed around a nonprofit. Donate a portion of those proceeds to the nonprofit.

By celebrating National Nonprofit Day, you can either start or build on a culture that promotes giving. By having a work culture focused on good causes, you’ll create a strong sense of community in your employees as well as make giving a natural part of each day.

Start planning now how you will celebrate National Nonprofit Day. Begin contacting local nonprofits, working with employees, and creating promotional content so that when August 17 arrives, people truly have all eyes on nonprofits and all the good they do.

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