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With over 1.5 million nonprofits operating in the United States alone, nearly every life has been touched in some way by the essential services nonprofits provide. Whether you have adopted a pet from a shelter, received donated blood, or spent an afternoon at your local park, you have benefited from the work of a nonprofit. And while recognizing and celebrating the social sector and all they do should happen year-round, today is particularly special because it’s National Nonprofit Day!

Held annually on August 17, National Nonprofit Day was established in 2017 as a day to recognize nonprofit professionals for their contributions and to educate individuals about the importance of uplifting nonprofits’ efforts by making donations, volunteering, or offering support of any kind. It was founded by notable Author and Speaker Sherita J. Herring and commemorates when the Tariff Act was signed into law, exempting nonprofits from Federal Income Tax.  

National Nonprofit Day is near and dear to us at Bonterra. Every day we see firsthand the impact that nonprofits have on their local communities. We are excited for the opportunity to celebrate the meaningful and impactful work that our customers do on this dedicated day.  

The relevancy of National Nonprofit Day in 2022

It has been a pivotal year for nonprofits. Many are still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic and are in the midst of determining what is next for their organizations. On top of that, nonprofits are also feeling the direct effects of inflation, including increased costs to operate and flat or decreased donations. There is also a direct correlation between inflation and a community’s need for the services provided by nonprofits, especially in health and human services. This can lead to significant burnout from nonprofit professionals, resulting in a high employee turnover and understaffed organizations.  

National Nonprofit Day provides a unique opportunity to recognize the fundamental work that is being done by nonprofits across the country. Despite an onslaught of recent hurdles, they continue to persevere and do the critical work that supports individuals and communities in need. Whether you’re a community member, an individual donor, or a corporate foundation, everyone can help support nonprofits on August 17 and beyond. To kickstart some ideas, we’ve compiled a list of ways everyone can celebrate!

Take a year-round approach to National Nonprofit Day

As a nonprofit:

National Nonprofit Day was created to celebrate all that you do! Today is about shining a light on the incredible work being done at your organization and the many roles you, as a nonprofit professional, play to fill the growing needs of your community. But the celebration shouldn’t end after August 17, take a year-round approach by implementing these engagement strategies every day.  

Utilize the #NationalNonprofitDay hashtag: Let the world, starting with your followers, know that your organization is celebrating this nationally recognized day! Craft a simple yet personal message on social media, sharing what the day means to your organization and the significance of uplifting the voices of the nonprofit sector. Make sure to use the specially created hashtag #NationalNonprofitDay to reach a larger audience of individuals passionate about celebrating the day.  

Put the focus on stewardship: While National Nonprofit Day may seem like a natural fit to launch an impromptu fundraising campaign, we encourage you to flip the script today and place emphasis on stewardship efforts. Take a moment out of your day to send kind messages to your donors, volunteers, and advocates, acknowledging the significant impact they generate in furthering your organization's mission. Explore how your organization can establish an effective donor stewardship practice in just eight easy steps!  

Share volunteer opportunities: Use National Nonprofit Day to rally new volunteer support by sharing any upcoming or ongoing opportunities. Offer actionable ways for individuals to give their time to your cause. By providing context around the critical role that volunteers play in your organization, you can inspire your supporters. In your messaging, be sure to include statistics on the impact that volunteers have already made for your organization so future volunteers can be confident in the work they will be able to provide in support of your cause. The national value of a volunteer’s time is currently estimated at $29.95 an hour, making it so important to ensure volunteers feel recognized for their significant contributions.

As a volunteer:

Through your volunteer service, you have likely created strong bonds with an organization whose mission you are passionate about supporting. Use your voice in the community to uplift the work of your favorite organization on National Nonprofit Day by trying out some of these ideas.

Research volunteer opportunities: There is no shortage of volunteer opportunities available, and nonprofits are always excited to bring new supporters on board. While researching causes you would be excited about serving, we recommend determining the type of volunteer opportunities that would be a good fit for your schedule and skill set.  

  • Virtual or in-person
  • One-time commitment or ongoing project
  • Local or national organization  

You can find both local and national opportunities through volunteer matching sites such as Mobilize.  

Thank your volunteer coordinator: Send a kind message to your contact at the organization you volunteer with to show appreciation for their efforts in creating and managing fun and engaging volunteer projects. Let them know what keeps you coming back as a volunteer and the skills and knowledge you have gained from your experience. Plus, consider adding a testimonial to your message that the volunteer coordinator can use in future recruitment efforts. In a notably under-thanked profession, your words will go a long way in making the organization’s staff feel recognized for their contributions to the community.  

Tell your volunteer story: Highlight the work you have done as a volunteer through your social media accounts. Let your peers know how you were introduced to the organization, why you are passionate about taking part in their mission, and how others can get involved alongside you. By sharing your personal story, you can generate more awareness and support for the organization you serve and educate others on the importance of volunteer work in your community. Be sure to include photos in your post, tag the organization’s account, and utilize the #NationalNonprofitDay hashtag to make your story more engaging!  

Don’t have a specific organization in mind or are unable to commit to a volunteer shift? You can still make an immediate impact for a worthy cause today. Consider trying one of these five action-based initiatives:

  • Visit your local blood donation center
  • Collect garbage and recyclables while walking on your favorite trail
  • Spend 15 minutes going through your closet for clothes you are ready to donate
  • Drop off a box of non-perishable food to a food pantry
  • Take a stack of previously enjoyed books to your community’s school library
As an individual donor:

As an individual donor, National Nonprofit Day is a great starting point for getting involved with local organizations and supporting causes you’re passionate about. But your engagement shouldn’t stop there! Integrate giving into your everyday life with our suggestions below.  

Get connected with local nonprofits: Support causes within your own community by getting involved with local nonprofits. Not sure how? Join their mailing list, subscribe to their newsletters, and follow them on social media! Once you get to know the nonprofit, you’ll better understand their needs and how you can offer support.

Set up a recurring donation: Give back to causes you care about on a regular basis by setting up a recurring donation. Many companies offer payroll deductions or credit card giving, making it easy for employees to set up recurring gifts weekly, monthly, or annually. Talk to your employer and see how to do so!  

Run a P2P campaign: When it comes to peer-to-peer fundraising, there are tons of ways to engage your friends, family, and community members in your efforts. Whether you host something as simple as a bake sale or go big with a walkathon, there’s no shortage of great ideas to get everyone involved in your fundraising strategy. Looking for more ideas? Check out this list from CyberGrants!  

Leverage social media: National Nonprofit Day is all about elevating organizations that are making an impact. Celebrate causes you’re passionate about and highlight how you’re giving back on social media. Consider sharing photos or telling a personal anecdote about why that nonprofit is important to you. And don’t forget to use the hashtag #NationalNonprofitDay so others can easily locate and interact with your posts! And there’s no need to stop after August 17—keep sharing your efforts year-round to help nonprofits drive maximum impact.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg! There are dozens of other ways to get involved on August 17 and beyond. Show us how you’re giving back by tagging us on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.  

As a grantmaker:

National Nonprofit Day was established to honor the impactful work that is accomplished by nonprofits across the country. As a grantmaker, the obvious way to celebrate is by writing a check. However, we recommend taking this opportunity to assess your grantmaking process to understand existing hurdles and identify ways to better support your nonprofit partners year-round. Below are a few suggestions for getting started.  

Focus on collaboration: Did you know? Only 36% of nonprofit leaders believe their grantors share the knowledge needed to improve the organization’s operations. To better serve your nonprofit partners, place emphasis on communication and collaboration. Giving nonprofits a resource rather than just a check is exactly what they are looking for in a partner.  

Embrace transparency: How can your organization prioritize transparency? Be clear on what it will take to move through the grant application process, eliminating as many surprises as possible. Be direct with qualifications and the procedure your team will be working through in order to award the grant, including deadlines and times to expect results.  

Streamline operations: Assess your application process and identify ways to simplify and streamline the process for nonprofits. Consider the application and approval process, reporting requirements, and disbursements—how can you make each of these steps faster and easier for nonprofits?  

Expanded grantmaking: Grantmakers often award the same types of grants to their nonprofit partners, but these may not always effectively meet an NPOs needs. As you begin to better collaborate with NPOs, consider expanding the types of grants you offer. Here are some grant types to consider:  

  • General operating support: This type allows a grantee to decide how funds are used, although most foundations and grantees have conversations about expectations and intended outcomes.
  • Capacity building grant: This grant type funds core organizational skills and capabilities, such as leadership, fundraising, and management.
  • Project support grant: This grant funds a particular program or project.
  • Capital grant: A capital grant funds the purchase or construction of a building, land, or major equipment.
  • Innovation grant: This grant type funds projects that experiment with fresh solutions to social problems. Innovation grants are key for foundations because few organizations have the same luxury of funding projects perceived as risky.

Make it public: Publicizing your partnership also helps the nonprofit gain exposure and hopefully boost donations. Going public doesn’t mean just putting out a press release, either. Let the world know what your money actually did by highlighting your nonprofit partner and their work on social media or in your organization’s newsletter or blog.  

As a corporation:

If you’re a corporation, consider honoring National Nonprofit Day with a point-in-time giving program for your employees. Below are a few ideas to kickstart your initiative and empower your workforce to get involved.  

Matching gifts: Many of your employees likely already have plans to support causes or nonprofits that matter to them on August 17. To double the impact of their efforts, implement a dollar-for-dollar matching program! Matching programs offer a powerful opportunity to maximize impact, and they’re proven to boost participation. But don’t just take our word for it—84% of donors say they’re more likely to give if a match is offered, and 1 in 3 indicate they’d give a larger gift if matching is applied to their donation.

VTO (volunteer time off): It’s no secret that making time to volunteer can be difficult. This National Nonprofit Day, encourage your employees to support causes they care about by offering paid volunteer time off (VTO). VTO is a form of PTO that allows employees the flexibility of volunteering during the workday while still getting paid!

Dollars 4 doers (D4D): After an employee volunteers, match their time with a monetary donation to a nonprofit of their choice. As a result, you’ll be able to increase participation, deepen community impact, and demonstrate authentic support for causes that matter to your employees.

Charitable spending account (CSA): Make it possible for anyone to participate in your program by offering a CSA. Provide your employees with a giving budget ($25, $50, $100, etc.) and a timeframe, but the rest is up to them. As a result, employees can use the funds to support any cause they care about, making National Nonprofit Day participation a no-brainer!  

Credit card giving: By making it possible for your employees to donate with a credit card, you’ll help build a dedicated and recurring donor base. Recurring employee giving can also help nonprofits build a more reliable source of income. When donors set up recurring gifts through their credit cards, it's easier for the nonprofit to forecast their income and budget for the year.  

These campaign ideas can be applied to any point-in-time giving program! So, when the next giving holiday or awareness month arrives, leverage these ideas to engage your employees and continue to drive maximum impact.  

Additional resources:

Stay up to date with the nonprofit sector year-round by exploring these resources.

Make the celebration last all year

While days like National Nonprofit Day, Giving Tuesday, and Philanthropy Day are important for awareness, involvement, and donating—the only way to make a true impact is to contribute year-round. Whether you set up recurring giving, volunteer your time and resources, or spread the word about the organizations you're passionate about, any action can and will make a difference. So, save these resources, tips, and considerations and apply them today and beyond to create more impact in your communities.

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August 17, 2022