Your employees care about more than just their salaries. To stay at a company for the long haul, they need to believe in the company’s values and feel empowered to make a difference. One way you can achieve this is through corporate philanthropy initiatives.
According to a recent study, 71% of employees say they consider it imperative or very important for their work culture to support giving and volunteering. If you’re looking for new ways to engage your team members and boost employee retention, an employee giving program could be just what you need.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about employee giving, including:
- What is Employee Giving?
- Employee Giving Benefits
- Top Employee Giving Programs to Be Inspired By
- How to Start Your Own Employee Giving Program
- Leverage Employee Giving Software to Empower Employees
Employee giving programs don’t just help you engage your employees—they also allow your business to make a lasting impact on your community. Let’s dive in to learn how!
What is Employee Giving?
Employee giving, also known as workplace giving, is a type of corporate philanthropy that empowers employees to give to the causes they care about. Through various giving initiatives, companies encourage their employees to donate to nonprofits and other charitable organizations, often by providing an additional donation from the company.
Employee giving can be a standalone philanthropy program or serve as part of a wider corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy. For instance, your company might have an employee giving program, sponsor individual nonprofits, and start an energy conservation initiative for your office building.
Depending on your company’s preferences and resources, employee giving may include one or all of the following:
- Matching gifts: Corporate matching gift programs involve your company matching employees’ monetary donations to nonprofits. After setting guidelines for what types of donations are eligible, your company would match qualified gifts at a 1:1 or even 2:1 ratio. If an employee donates $10 and you offer a 1:1 match ratio, you’ll donate an additional $10, giving that nonprofit $20 total.
- Volunteer grants: Encourage employees to volunteer by offering monetary grants based on their volunteer hours. For example, you might give the nonprofit your employee volunteered with $25 per hour. If the team member volunteered 20 hours, your company would donate $500 to that nonprofit.
- Paycheck deductions: Simplify giving for your employees by allowing them to set up recurring donations that come straight out of their paychecks. If an employee wanted to give $20 to their local animal shelter each month, your payroll system would automate the process so they don’t have to do any work on their part.
- Employee grant stipends: Instead of having employees donate their own money, offer a designated amount for each employee to donate to their preferred nonprofit. For example, you might set aside $100 per employee each year for charitable donations.
Each type of employee giving has its own benefits, and some may work better for your business than others. Think about which types of giving would resonate most with your employees or be easiest for them to participate in. If you’re not sure, consider sending out a survey or asking managers for feedback on which types of giving would interest team members.
Employee Giving Benefits
Starting an employee giving initiative at your business is a win-win-win: for your company, your employees, and the organizations they donate to. Employee giving programs offer the following benefits for everyone involved:
Benefits for Companies
We’ve already touched on some ways your company benefits from employee giving programs, but let’s go into more detail about why these programs are so beneficial. With a robust employee giving program, your company can:
- Engage employees. Only some employees get to see firsthand how their work impacts the community. You can make their work more meaningful and boost employee engagement by giving them other ways to make a difference. Employee giving programs empower your employees to make a personal impact on their communities and show them that you support the causes they care about.
- Increase employee satisfaction and retention. Employees want to work for companies that share their values and positively impact the world. By investing in employee giving, you’ll make employees happier and more likely to stay at your company long-term.
- Boost your company’s reputation. Employees aren’t the only ones who care about corporate social responsibility—your customers and clients do too. According to Harvard Business, 77% of consumers and 73% of investors are more motivated to spend money on companies committed to making the world a better place. Demonstrate your commitment to CSR with employee giving initiatives, and your company will strengthen its reputation.
Additionally, regularly interacting with nonprofits through employee giving provides the potential to develop mutually beneficial relationships with those organizations. These relationships can lead to opportunities like sponsorships in the future, in which your business funds a nonprofit’s event in exchange for marketing.
Benefits for Employees
The biggest benefit for employees is that corporate giving programs allow them to impact their favorite nonprofits, schools, and community organizations more. Through matching gifts and volunteer grants, in particular, your employees can double or triple the impact of their gifts.
Along with increasing their personal impact on the community outside of work, employees experience benefits in the workplace. Employee giving programs contribute to a more positive company culture and can increase employees’ trust in their employers. This leads to improved workplace relationships and makes team members feel happier with their jobs.
Benefits for Nonprofits
The organizations your employees donate to, whether they’re nonprofits, universities, churches, or other organizations, gain plenty of benefits from robust employee giving programs. These benefits include:
- Low-cost fundraising
- Increased donor engagement
- More resources to further their cause
- Potential to build a relationship with your business for future sponsorship opportunities
- Ability to make a greater impact on the community
Employee giving programs also allow nonprofits to receive more donations without asking their donors to give any more than they normally would. This keeps their relationships with supporters strong while increasing their capacity to help their communities.
Top Employee Giving Programs to Be Inspired By
Over 65% of Fortune 500 companies have employee giving programs, and they don’t all look the same. Explore a few of our favorite examples to see how your company can get creative with its program:
Microsoft has almost no matching gift minimum. As long as an employee donates at least $1 to an eligible nonprofit, the company matches it at a 1:1 ratio for up to $15,000. Plus, they have some of the highest levels of employee participation for a matching gift program—over 65% of employees participate.
Microsoft also offers volunteer grants with no minimum number of hours required. Whether an employee volunteers for just one hour or 30 hours, Microsoft donates $25 per hour to the organization.
The Walt Disney Corporation stands out as a company with one of the top volunteer grant programs. Disney offers ongoing “EARS to You” grants which give up to $2,000 to nonprofits where employees regularly volunteer. Plus, the company gives out annual grants for “VoluntEARS of the Year.” These annual grants donate an additional $2,500 to organizations in recognition of exceptional volunteer service.
Along with volunteer grants, Disney matches employee donations to nonprofits of up to $25,000 at a 1:1 ratio.
Nike’s employee giving program is unique because, on top of their standard 1:1 match for eligible donations, the company offers an extra “triple match” for donations to sports-related organizations and nonprofits that are part of Nike’s Black Community Commitment.
For example, let’s say an employee donates to a nonprofit sports camp. In this scenario, Nike will match their donation at a 2:1 ratio instead of 1:1. If the employee donates $200, the company will give another $400 to the nonprofit, totaling $600!
How to Start Your Own Employee Giving Program
If you’re ready to follow these companies’ examples and reap the benefits of employee giving, follow these steps to start your company’s program:
1. Establish Guidelines
First, decide which type of employee giving options you’ll offer. You might offer matching gifts, paycheck deductions, volunteer grants, or all of the above. Again, think about which giving options your business’s employees will be most excited to participate in, and prioritize those.
Then, set all of the necessary guidelines for your programs, including:
- Match ratio: Matching donations 1:1 means that your company will match employees’ donations exactly (employee donates $10, you donate $10). Meanwhile, a 2:1 ratio means you’ll contribute double the amount of the original donation (employee donates $10, you donate $20). Some companies also choose a .5:1 ratio, meaning you match only half of the employee’s gift (employee donates $10, you donate $5).
- Matching gift maximums and minimums: Set minimum and maximum donation sizes that your company will match. For example, you might match any gift from $10 – $10,000. In general, higher maximums yield higher participation rates. You can increase employee engagement up to 40% just by setting a maximum of more than $10,000.
- Volunteer grant guidelines: For volunteer grants, decide how much your company will donate per hour volunteered and how many initial hours employees need to volunteer to qualify. Consider also setting a maximum grant amount, such as $2,000.
- Eligible employee requirements: Determine which employees and types of organizations will qualify. Will retired or part-time employees be eligible for your employee giving programs? Will you match donations or provide volunteer grants for any nonprofit or exclude churches and educational institutions?
Finally, outline submission guidelines and deadlines for submitting matching gift and volunteer grant requests. Commonly, deadlines for requests are at the end of each calendar or fiscal year. However, you may instead choose a certain amount of time after the initial donation or volunteer participation, such as six months.
2. Promote Your Employee Giving Program
Next, spread the word about your new program! Let employees know what types of giving opportunities you offer, what the guidelines are, and how they benefit from the program.
It’s crucial to promote your program widely and actively encourage employees to participate to give them the best employee giving experience. To promote the program, you might:
- Add employee giving guidelines to your employee handbook.
- Send out a company-wide email announcing the program.
- Email reminders about upcoming submission deadlines.
- Periodically remind employees of giving options during company-wide meetings.
- Incorporate employee giving into your onboarding process.
- Add your program to Double the Donation’s database for added visibility.
You can also motivate employees to participate with challenges, rewards, or incentives. For example, you might start a holiday giving challenge encouraging employees to donate or volunteer during November and December. Whoever raises the most money can earn a prize.
Similarly, you might set up a matching donation challenge in which you promise to match donations to a particular nonprofit during a certain time frame or up to a certain amount.
3. Monitor the Program’s Success
Once your program is up and running, collect data such as employee participation rates, total funds donated, and total hours volunteered. This data will help you determine how successful your employee giving program is at engaging employees and impacting their communities.
After compiling this information, communicate it with your team members and the general public to demonstrate the positive impact your company is making. Communicate your results by updating employees and publishing a report at the end of the year. Include data like the number of organizations your employees donated to and volunteered at, along with how much your company donated in total that year.
You can also use this data to effectively recognize and thank the employees who participate in your program. What’s more, these insights can help make any necessary improvements in your program.
Leverage Employee Giving Software to Empower Employees
CSR software can help you successfully manage your employee giving program and boost team member participation. These platforms are designed to help businesses track participation in CSR programs like employee giving, but they can also help you manage grants, implement automatic payroll deductions, and simplify the giving process for employees.
Some CSR providers, like Seflessly and POINT, help simplify the giving process even further by offering matching gift auto-submission through integrations with Double the Donation. This functionality allows your employees to submit their match requests with the click of a button—all they have to do is enter their company email when donating and check a box!
Check out this short video to see how it works:
Leveraging auto-submission can boost employee participation rates and lead to more overall donations. Using any type of automation increases a nonprofit’s matching gift revenue by 61%, and auto-submission is expected to boost matched donations by an additional 80-200%. This means that using CSR platforms with auto-submission functionality greatly benefits nonprofits, employees, and your company.
Now that you know the basics, you’re ready to start engaging employees with your own employee giving program. Get your team together to discuss what employee giving could look like for you and the benefits of investing in the best tools to make it happen.
Want to learn more about employee giving and how to achieve success with your own program? Check out these resources:
- The Workplace Giving Guide for Corporate Changemakers. Learn about additional types of corporate giving initiatives and tips for implementing them successfully.
- Developing a Matching Gift Program: A How-To Guide. Excited to offer matching gifts to your employees? Use this guide to develop your own matching gift program.
- Small Businesses with Big Matching Gifts: Examples + Tips. Employee giving isn’t limited to big corporations! Explore these examples to see what employee giving programs can look like for small businesses.