Today, the success and growth of educational institutions relies not only on the efforts of educators and their staff but also on the financial and other support of their surrounding communities. One powerful way that individuals and corporations contribute to the advancement of these institutions is through workplace giving.
This practice, often facilitated by generous employee giving programs, empowers a company’s workforce to engage with their favorite charitable causes—and have their employing companies get involved as well. Most often, these causes are inclusive of educational institutions like yours!
In this blog post, we’ll delve into the vital role that workplace giving plays in advancing educational institutions, uncovering the benefits it brings to both the schools and the communities they serve.
Let’s explore the following topics together:
- Getting Started: The Basics of Workplace Giving for Schools
- Incentivizing Individual Support for Schools with Workplace Giving
- Marketing Workplace Giving to School Alumni and Donors
- Democratizing Corporate Philanthropy for Education
- Bonus: 9 Companies with Education-Inclusive Workplace Giving Programs
From enhancing access to education to fostering innovation and research, workplace giving is a transformative fundraising tool that provides schools like yours with the funds they need for long-term success. Join us to discover the remarkable ways in which workplace giving is shaping the future of education by reading on.
Getting Started: The Basics of Workplace Giving for Schools
The impact of workplace giving on the development and enrichment of schools, colleges, and universities cannot be overstated. But before we dive deep into the key advantages of a well-built corporate fundraising plan, it’s important to build a solid understanding of workplace giving as a whole.
And that includes the basics here.
Types of Workplace Giving Programs to Consider
There are tons of workplace giving initiatives a company can offer, and thousands of businesses participate in corporate philanthropy this way. Getting started, however, we recommend focusing on a few key opportunities for your school: matching gifts and volunteer grants.
- Matching gifts are by far the most popular type of workplace giving initiative, often comprising a significant portion of a company’s overall philanthropy. When a donor employed by a matching gift company donates to a qualifying nonprofit or school, the employer matches the donation (typically dollar-for-dollar). This encourages staff members to give back (thus increasing engagement and school donations even before taking into account the corporate match) and empowers institutions to do more with their fundraising dollars!
- Volunteer grants, which are sometimes referred to as “Dollars for Doers,” are another leading form of workplace giving program and are often tied closely to matching gifts. But in this program, a company agrees to provide financial support to schools and other organizations based on the volunteering efforts of its employees rather than their monetary contributions. Participating employers offer generous grants, generally based on the number of hours an employee volunteers with a cause. This empowers individuals to make a positive difference in their communities while benefiting the institutions they support with their time. For your school, promoting the opportunity can be a great way to increase volunteerism and communicate the tangible impact that volunteer hours provide your institution.
If you’re interested in checking out additional workplace giving program types—from payroll deductions and employee fundraising campaigns to paid volunteer time off, charitable giving stipends, and more—check out our complete guide to winning workplace giving strategies here.
Equipping Your Development Team with Workplace Giving Technology
Managing—not to mention optimizing—workplace giving initiatives for your school can be challenging without the right tools in your toolkit. But equipping your development team (or whoever’s in charge of fundraising at your institution) with innovative workplace giving software can go a long way toward helping you pursue corporate philanthropy opportunities more effectively.
Luckily, 360MatchPro is the industry’s leading provider of matching gift and volunteer grant technology for the education and nonprofit sectors. By investing in a matching gift platform like 360MatchPro, you can streamline the matching gift process from beginning to end.
This ultimately leverages automation to identify match-eligible donors and guide them through the necessary steps to secure those additional funds for your school.
Want to see it in action? Check out our complete list of inspirational matching gift case studies here to learn more.
As we dive into some of the most prominent advantages of workplace giving for educational institutions, keep in mind that investing in the right technology will enable your team to see greater results with fewer demands of time and effort.
Incentivizing Individual Support for Schools with Workplace Giving
Workplace giving initiatives empower educational institutions to fund their programming with corporate philanthropy. But a lesser-known benefit is that it encourages individual giving (of time and money) as well.
Thus, by promoting workplace giving opportunities like matching gifts and volunteer grants to your school’s supporters, you can…
Elevate gift conversion rates
A recent corporate giving study reports that more than 84% of survey participants indicated that they’d be more likely to give charitably if they know a matching gift is being offered. As a result, fundraising appeals that mention matching gift opportunities see an average 71% increase in response rate.
Why? Donors love seeing their dollars make a significant difference in the causes they care about. Matching gifts enable the same gift size to go twice as far, thus driving on-the-fence supporters to make the leap to giving.
Increase donation sizes
Similarly, donors also reported being more likely to give in larger amounts when a corporate match is available—with 1 in 3 indicating they’d contribute more if matching is applied. And again, highlighting matching gifts in fundraising appeals results in a 51% increase in an organization’s average donation amount.
This finding can be attributed to an individual’s incentive to reach their company’s donation minimum in order to qualify for a corporate match. Not to mention their desire to make an even larger impact by contributing more (thus driving their corporate match higher, as well).
Just like donors are more likely to give financially when matching gifts are available, volunteers are often incentivized to contribute their time when volunteer grants are offered! They’re able to see their time, effort, and skills making an even greater impact on their school community and will be increasingly eager to do so.
Marketing Workplace Giving to School Alumni and Donors
Unfortunately, many donors and volunteers remain unaware of their companies’ workplace giving programs. Without being informed of the chance to amplify their support, they won’t be able to take the steps to do so.
That’s why it’s crucial to employ a proactive approach for marketing matching gifts and volunteer grants wherever you can.
Specifically, we recommend:
- Mentioning matching gift opportunities in all school fundraising materials (including flyers, informational packets, and mailings).
- Highlighting volunteer grants in your regular volunteer communications, newsletters, etc.
- Publishing workplace giving information prominently across your institution’s website (with a dedicated matching gifts page, a section about matching gifts and volunteer grants on your “Ways to Give” page, in blog posts, and more).
- Employing a matching gift search tool (like 360MatchPro) within the donation process, in follow-ups, and on your website to assist supporters in locating the information they need to participate in their employers’ programming.
- Hosting a dedicated matching gifts drive where you heavily promote corporate matching gift opportunities and encourage donors to complete the submission process by a certain deadline.
- Sharing about employee giving programs on your social media pages.
- Including matching gift information in donation acknowledgments and follow-up emails and volunteer grant information in volunteer thank-you letters.
- Utilizing multimedia elements such as images and videos to demonstrate the impact of workplace giving participation and show how easily supporters can get involved.
- Leveraging direct mail marketing efforts for top matching gift and volunteer grant prospects.
Marketing matching gifts and other workplace giving programs to supporters also provides an excellent way for your school to engage with its donors, volunteers, alumni, and more in new and exciting ways. Since it’s not another financial appeal, it allows you to diversify your asks while retaining your institution’s place at the forefront of your audience’s mind for even longer.
Democratizing Corporate Philanthropy for Education
Workplace giving is just one type of philanthropic programming under the broader corporate giving umbrella. More specifically, these initiatives go beyond traditional corporate donations by actively involving employees and empowering individual team members to play a significant role in the decision-making process of their companies’ charitable giving.
And by doing so, companies can ultimately offer a more democratized giving program with equal opportunities for all sorts of charitable causes to get involved—rather than focusing their support on a few select organizations.
So make the most of these programs for your educational institution! Consider these practices that outline how you can get started and optimize your strategy for maximum impact.
Seek workplace giving programs within your donor base.
From a nonprofit or school’s perspective, one of the greatest aspects of workplace giving programs is how accessible they are to fundraising organizations of all shapes and sizes. And it’s something that your existing donors have an actionable role in pursuing on your behalf.
To make the most of the opportunities, there are a few steps you can take. First, make an effort to identify and communicate with parents, alumni, and supporters who work for companies known to offer workplace giving programs. Take time to educate your supporters about the benefits of workplace giving, including matching gifts and volunteer grant programs.
From there, you can provide clear instructions on how to participate, such as sharing relevant forms or links to online portals. The less research a donor or volunteer has to do on their own to participate, the better the chance that they’ll ultimately complete the process to solicit corporate funds on your behalf.
Finally, be sure to leverage your existing fundraising campaigns and events to promote workplace giving, emphasizing the impact it can have on enhancing the educational experience for your students, staff, and overall community.
Pursue additional corporate partnership opportunities.
Once you’ve begun developing relationships with the companies your donors and volunteers work for through employee giving initiatives, don’t stop there. Examine additional opportunities as well!
Consider reaching out to the companies that are already supporting your school through workplace giving programs and see if they’re interested in taking your partnership to the next level. This might mean pitching a sponsorship for an upcoming school event, collaborating on a fundraising initiative, or exploring an in-kind partnership. The opportunities are endless—especially once you already have your foot in the door.
And it can start with a simple message like this:
“Hi [name of corporate partnership coordinator]! My name is [name] and I am the [development coordinator/fundraising team leader/other role] at [school]. I am reaching out to you because we’ve noted that our school received [number] donations and identified more than $[total value of donations] in matching gift revenue from your company in the past year.
We see that you are dedicated to charitable giving, and it seems that we have a lot in common already! Are you interested in partnering with our team as a corporate sponsor for our upcoming [fundraising event/program/project]?”
Meanwhile, you can also explore corporate partnerships with companies that don’t offer existing workplace giving programs. You’ll still want to emphasize your shared audiences, but instead use the opportunity to communicate the value of a partnership with your school—even if they’re not ready to dive headlong into corporate giving. For example, you might promote the chance for the company to offer a one-off matching gift program exclusive to your institution as a way to sample employee donation-matching.
Bonus: 9 Companies with Education-Inclusive Workplace Giving Programs
Workplace giving is becoming an increasingly popular offering, with businesses across every sector establishing matching gift programs, volunteer grant initiatives, and more. Though there are far too many to list here, we wanted to spotlight a few companies that boast particularly generous, standout, and education-inclusive programs.
As the philanthropically-focused branch of Google, Google.org focuses on providing nonprofit and education grants, donation matching, and team volunteer opportunities to support a wide range of causes through funding, innovation, and technical expertise.
By doing so, the company encourages employees to donate time and money to support the communities in which they live and work. Additionally, Google employees may participate in “GoogleServe,” a month-long volunteer event aimed at addressing community needs.
Currently, both full-time and part-time Google employees qualify to request generous donation matches of up to $10,000 per person per year to educational institutions (K-12 included), art, cultural, civic, and community organizations, and more. The company even offers a fundraising match, in which it doubles donations collected by an employee on behalf of an eligible cause, and a volunteer grants initiative, where Google donates $10 for every hour a team member volunteers for a nonprofit.
With a variety of giving opportunities to consider and more than 150,000 employees worldwide, Google is a great place to begin your school’s workplace fundraising strategy!
Microsoft’s workplace giving program, called “Microsoft Philanthropies,” is committed to empowering nonprofits and educational groups to foster positive social change in the world around them.
The company offers a robust employee matching gift program, effectively doubling donations to eligible nonprofits and schools. All current team members are encouraged to give generously, with matches available up to $15,000 for each employee on an annual basis.
And it doesn’t end there! Microsoft also provides volunteer grants, giving employees the opportunity to support causes they care about by donating their time and skills—which are then stretched even further with the corporate volunteer match.
All in all, Microsoft boasts the world’s most widely used workplace giving program, with more than 65% of employees participating in matching gifts. In the last year, Microsoft employees contributed over $255 million through the matching gift program—and volunteered over 720,000 hours—to 32,000 nonprofit causes.
Dell’s workplace giving focuses on driving social change and technological innovation through strategic philanthropy and employee engagement. The company offers a workplace giving program, with donation matching offered up to $5,000 per employee to any vetted nonprofit or school. Additionally, Dell employees qualify to request grants for the nonprofits and schools they volunteer with each quarter through the business’s Community Service Program.
These efforts aim to encourage and incentivize employees’ support for mission-focused organizations of their choice. Dell also supports education initiatives through the “Dell YouthConnect” program, which increases technology access and educational resources for youth, in addition to other nonprofit and school partnerships across the globe.
Coursera is an online learning platform that supports various social impact initiatives through its workplace giving program and overall CSR initiatives. This company encourages its employees to contribute to nonprofit and educational advancement and provides donation-matching opportunities to amplify their individual impact.
Each year, Coursera staff can request between $20 and $500 for the organizations they support, inclusive of K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and more.
Coursera also partners with schools and nonprofit groups to offer free or discounted access to its online courses, empowering individuals from a range of backgrounds to gain valuable skills and knowledge.
5. Cengage Learning
Cengage Learning, a major publisher of education materials, offers a generous workplace giving program that focuses on education and literacy initiatives. The company encourages its employees to give back by offering donation-matching programs to support schools, education-based nonprofits, and literacy-focused organizations.
Matching donations at a 1:1 ratio of up to $500 per year, Cengage incentivizes employee giving, particularly learning causes that align with the company’s own mission.
Additionally, Cengage Learning also partners with educational institutions and nonprofits to develop innovative solutions that enhance learning experiences for students and more.
With an overarching mission centered around language education and accessibility, Duolingo supports language learning initiatives and offers free online language courses to individuals, classes, and schools worldwide.
Through their workplace giving program, Duolingo employees are encouraged to contribute to educational causes and most other nonprofit groups, with the company providing donation matching to amplify their impact up to $500 per year.
Aramark’s workplace giving program aims to empower underserved communities primarily through education, workforce readiness, and food security initiatives. Aramark also provides dedicated grants, matching donations, and in-kind support to nonprofit organizations that address these themes—and incentivize their employees to do the same. Its matching gift program is divided into two components: an education-focused initiative available up to $2,000 per team member per year and an additional option for other nonprofits up to $250 per person annually.
The company’s volunteer initiative, “Aramark Building Community,” also encourages its staff to participate year-round, with concentrated efforts on an annual day of service.
“Crayola Cares” is Crayola’s philanthropic initiative dedicated to supporting arts education and fostering creativity and ongoing learning in children. The company encourages employees to participate in volunteer activities and fundraising events and offers donation-matching programs to support arts-focused nonprofits.
Each year, employees are encouraged to request matches for personal donations to higher education programs, public and private K-12 schools, and nonprofit arts and cultural organizations—up to $500 in each category. And the company offers additional grants to the organizations an employee fundraises for through peer-to-peer events like walk/run/rides!
Crayola also partners with schools and organizations to provide art supplies and resources, ensuring that children everywhere have access to quality arts education.
9. Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company (and its subsidiaries) participates in corporate philanthropy in a number of ways—including a generous matching gifts program of up to $25,000 per employee per year.
Also notable is its volunteer program, “Disney VoluntEARS,” which encourages employees to make a positive impact in their communities through service opportunities. VoluntEARS are eligible to request up to $2,000 in grants for the nonprofits and schools with which they volunteer their time. Meanwhile, employees recognized as “VoluntEARS of the Year” qualify for additional Disney grants on behalf of the organizations they support.
Finding new avenues for support and maximizing available resources is crucial for schools everywhere. With workplace giving opportunities like matching gifts and volunteer grants incorporated into your institution’s overall fundraising strategy, you’ll be well-equipped to make the most of every ounce of support that comes your way.
Best of luck!
Keep learning with these recommended resources:
- Matching Gifts: Your Guide to Growing Your Revenue with Automation. Dive deeper into our #1 recommendation for workplace giving—matching gifts! Raise more through the programs when you automate your strategy and simplify the process for donors, too.
- 6 Matching Gift Secrets From Top Peer-to-Peer Nonprofits. What can your school learn from peer-to-peer focused nonprofits? Find out in this guide. Explore best practices and little-known tips and tricks to optimize your matching gift fundraising here.
- Matching Gift Auto-Submission + CSR Platforms | What to Know. Matching gift technology continues to improve, and one of the most future-focused functions right now is auto-submission. Find out how to leverage auto-submission for your school!