The Workplace Giving Guide for Corporate Changemakers
Workplace giving is a popular—and continuously growing—initiative where corporations equip their employees to support a wide range of nonprofit causes. And in most cases, the businesses give right alongside their team members.
If you’re looking to incorporate this type of philanthropy into your own business practices, you’ve come to the right place. This comprehensive workplace giving guide will share everything you need to know as a business leader to become a top provider in the corporate giving sector.
Here, we’re going to walk through the following essential topics:
- Workplace Giving vs. Corporate Philanthropy
- Common Types of Workplace Giving Programs
- Top Benefits of Workplace Giving
- Getting Started with Workplace Giving: Five Key Tips
As more and more companies prioritize corporate social responsibility (CSR) in their efforts, the need to become a competitively giving business grows as well. Luckily, workplace giving is an impactful (and relatively easy) way to do so.
Whether you’re aiming to launch a workplace giving initiative at your business for the first time or improve upon existing programming, these tips, tricks, and basic knowledge are here to help. Let’s begin!
Workplace Giving vs. Corporate Philanthropy
Workplace giving is essentially a subcategory of corporate philanthropy—and a major one at that.
Think of it this way: all workplace giving is corporate philanthropy, but not all corporate philanthropy is workplace giving.
So what’s the difference? Let’s dive into the two topics.
The most significant differentiator between workplace giving and corporate philanthropy is that workplace giving places a company’s employees in the drivers’ seat of the programming. In these scenarios, team members play an active role in their employing company’s philanthropy.
For example, companies participating in workplace giving initiatives enable employees to choose nonprofit recipients to which revenue will be directed, drive higher amounts of revenue toward charitable causes, and more. And these variables are typically dependent on a particular action (e.g., making their own donation, volunteering with an organization, etc.) on the part of the employee.
Corporate philanthropy, on the other hand, is any act of charity conducted by a business—whether its employees had a say in the process or not.
Examples of this might include a business writing a multi-million-dollar check to a single organization, partnering with a nonprofit cause to sponsor an event or fundraising campaign, or agreeing to donate free or heavily discounted products distributed by the company.
These initiatives are still great but have less of a direct correlation with the company’s employees on a smaller scale.
Common Types of Workplace Giving Programs
Workplace giving comes in many shapes and sizes. The ones you choose to implement should ultimately reflect the company’s goals and employees’ preferences—and locate where the two ideas overlap.
Here are a few of the most-used categories of workplace giving programs (and how they work):
- Matching gifts: Companies financially match the donations their employees make to qualifying nonprofits. For example, Employee A makes a $100 donation to Nonprofit B. Company C confirms the initial donation and submits its own matching gift of $100 to the same organization.
- Volunteer grants: These are similar to matching gifts, but the company provides a monetary donation to an organization in response to an employee volunteering their time with the cause. In this case, say Employee A volunteers for 10 hours with Nonprofit B. Company C once again confirms the volunteer hours, then submits a grant of $200 to Nonprofit B—the equivalent of $20 per hour.
- Corporate volunteerism: Nonprofits organize group volunteer opportunities or events that a company signs its staff up for. Employees work together to help out the organization, the nonprofit receives additional assistance, and the company sees positive benefits from team-building through volunteerism. Company C rounds up a group of Employees A-Z to spend the day volunteering with Nonprofit B!
- Annual campaigns: A company partners with a nonprofit organization to organize and host a team-wide fundraising campaign for a cause its employees care about. Employees work together to raise funding for the campaign and perhaps participate in a fundraising event as well. Now, Company C gathers Employees A-Z to raise money for Nonprofit B and its upcoming 5K run by soliciting donations from their own friends and family members.
- Employee grant stipends: Companies offer a lump sum of money for each employee to donate to the nonprofit cause of their choice. Funding comes from the company rather than employees’ own wallets, but team members have the agency to designate funding to charitable missions that they care about. These are also sometimes referred to as “charitable gift cards” and used as rewards for top job performance. In this example, Company C gifts Employee A a credit of $100 to contribute to their favorite charity, Nonprofit B.
- Paycheck deductions: Typically managed through a company’s payroll or HR system, paycheck deductions enable employees to quickly and easily set up recurring donations to preapproved nonprofits. And it all happens behind the scenes before the dollars have even hit the individual’s wallet. Now, Employee A has the choice to give to a range of organizations—among which is Nonprofit B—and sets up a $50 automated donation directly from their paycheck each month.
If you’re getting started with workplace giving for the first time, we suggest choosing one or two programs above to implement at your company. As you develop and troubleshoot those initiatives, feel free to add more employee giving opportunities down the line.
Top Benefits of Workplace Giving
There are tons of benefits to workplace giving programs, from the perspectives of both the nonprofit receiving funding and the company contributing charitably—not even to mention the employees participating.
In terms of workplace giving benefits for companies, these are some of the top advantages you might see:
- Corporate social responsibility: CSR focuses on companies that leave a positive impact on the world, typically through corporate philanthropy, ethical labor practices, environmental leadership, and more. Because workplace giving falls within corporate philanthropy, it’s a great way to boost your social responsibility—and thus, elevate your reputation among consumers.
- Employee engagement: Employees want to be proud of the companies they work for, and the contributions they help support with their own efforts. When your staff knows you prioritize philanthropy—and particularly support the organizations they care about—they’ll be more likely to be engaged in their role. And with engagement comes higher levels of productivity, happier employees, lower rates of absenteeism, and so on.
- Staff retention and recruiting: Similarly to the above point, employees prefer working for charitable-minded businesses. By highlighting workplace giving opportunities to team members, companies often see higher rates of retention and overall lengthier tenures. And the same goes for recruiting! Corporate giving participation can help give your company a leg up on other competitive employers and help draw in top-performing candidates to your team.
- Tax deductions: A significant motivator for many kinds of corporate philanthropy is, of course, the tax benefits. And workplace giving can be even more beneficial here. That’s because matched donations, for example, can lead to tax deductions above and beyond the typical 10% limit of deductions compared to total annual income!
Workplace or employer giving programs offer many of the same benefits as traditional corporate philanthropy and overall CSR. However, companies tend to see even more direct and impactful results from workplace giving, especially when it comes to internal outcomes among their staff, by placing employees at the center of their efforts.
Getting Started with Workplace Giving: Five Key Tips
Check out these tried-and-true best practices from corporate giving experts as you establish or develop your company’s philanthropic initiatives.
1. Offer numerous workplace giving programs.
We previously mentioned some of the most commonly used examples of workplace giving (to recap: matching gifts, volunteer grants, corporate volunteerism, and more). Each of these program types will bring your company a unique set of benefits—and you don’t have to stick with just one!
For example, some employees will have already been giving to nonprofit causes or tend to lean toward supporting charities with their dollars. Those individuals will be glad to participate in a matching gift program! On the other hand, other employees will be volunteer-focused and more likely to partake in a volunteer grant initiative.
When you offer multiple workplace giving programs, you have a better chance of incorporating an initiative that appeals to everyone.
2. Inform eligible employees about workplace giving initiatives.
Unfortunately, millions of individuals working for companies that incorporate employee giving programs have never been made aware of the initiatives in the first place. As a result, those individuals (and the companies they work for) are not making the most of their philanthropic opportunities.
You don’t want to be that kind of company!
Make sure to educate your existing team members and new employees as they’re onboarded about the giving programs your business offers and how they can get involved. In addition, you’ll want to ramp up promotions anytime you launch a new type of program while also leveraging consistent reminders throughout the year.
3. Incorporate flexible workplace giving guidelines.
Every company that hosts a workplace giving program first creates a set of participation guidelines and eligibility criteria. This typically includes aspects such as types of employees who qualify, nonprofit causes that may receive funding, matching gift ratio or volunteer grant stipend amount, and more.
To encourage employees to get involved with your philanthropic initiatives, we suggest:
- Offering multiple ways to give. Studies show that employees want to be able to participate in their employers’ workplace giving programs in as many ways as possible. That might mean supporting their favorite organizations on their websites, donation tools, peer-to-peer campaigns, direct mail, text messaging, and more. Make sure all of those gift types are eligible for workplace giving eligibility—such as matching gifts.
- Choosing low minimum and high maximum donation match amounts. The greater the range between your company’s minimum and maximum match amounts, the more likely employees are to participate in matching gifts. Make sure your minimum threshold is a feasible figure for the majority of your employees, while the maximum should be lofty to inspire a sense of increased charitability.
- Setting lengthy post-donation submission request deadlines. As you craft your company’s workplace giving guidelines, you’ll need to set a deadline for participation. This is the date by which employee participants must fill out their submission request to be eligible for corporate funding. Offering a lengthy and generous deadline provides employees with ample time to complete their part in the program.
Remember, you want your employees to want to take part. This enables your company to receive the benefits of philanthropy in the first place—including employee engagement, brand development, and even altruism.
That said, the more employees that qualify to participate, the better your program will likely fare.
4. Consider utilizing a workplace giving vendor.
Managing a workplace giving program can be time-consuming and sometimes tricky—from establishing and communicating giving program guidelines to reviewing and approving employee participation requests and ultimately paying out corporate funding to nonprofits. But it doesn’t have to be, and there is a specific category of technology designed to aid businesses in the process: workplace giving software!
If you’re looking to launch a corporate or employee giving initiative within your company but are not sure you have the time and manpower to devote to it, outsourcing program management to a third-party vendor is an excellent idea. This way, you can ensure you’re making the most of your philanthropy without draining your resources.
Here’s what we recommend looking for in a provider:
- Cost — An impactful solution is a valuable investment, but you’ll want to ensure the system you choose is affordable for your business where you are.
- Integrations — Make sure to prioritize workplace giving software that integrates seamlessly with the existing systems you use, as well as with nonprofit and donor-focused technology for optimal giving experiences.
- Programs offered — Take a look at the programs the vendor is offering. Some of the most popular initiatives to consider are matching gifts and volunteer grants, but see what else is available to implement as well.
- Location — Find out whether the system is based where your employees are, whether that’s locally, U.S.-based, or even globally.
- Innovation — Workplace giving technology is constantly evolving. Make sure your provider is up-to-date with new trends and innovative functionality, such as offering tight integrations with nonprofits and auto-submission for streamlined employee experiences.
Some of the more established names in the workplace giving technology space include CyberGrants, Benevity, YourCause, America’s Charities, and more. However, other platforms are quickly rising to the top with standout functionality and optimal user experiences, such as POINT, Millie, and Selflessly.
Each provider offers its own pros and cons to the partnership, so be sure to compare and contrast, focusing on your highest priorities, and make a decision from there.
5. Simplify participation with auto-submission technology.
Most companies establish a set process for employees to request matching gifts and other workplace giving funding. This is typically done through the company’s corporate giving platform (if they’ve chosen to go that route) and often requires detailed information to review and approve the submission. For matching gifts, some companies ask for donation amounts and giving methods, as well as data on the organization receiving the gift—such as their cause, contact information, and EIN.
Overall, the process should only take a few minutes, but it’s still one of the most significant roadblocks to matching gifts actually getting submitted—which is where auto-submission comes in! Now, several companies are rolling out matching gift auto-submission functionality which allows employee donors to submit their matches directly within their online donation experiences, all by entering their corporate email address.
When the entire process takes mere seconds and doesn’t involve the user leaving their current page on the organization’s website, they’ll be more likely to take part—and your company will reap the benefits of them doing so!
Ready to utilize your business and empower its employees to do good in the world? Workplace giving is the way to go—and you’re all set to put these practices into action and begin making a change.
We recommend getting started with two of the most popular forms of philanthropy by far: matching gifts and volunteer grants! Your employees will be increasingly engaged and proud to support your company, nonprofits will benefit from your generous corporate donations, and you’ll see elevated brand reputation and sales efforts—all good for your bottom line.
Read up on top corporate philanthropy tips and strategies with our other educational guides:
- Making CSR More Than Just a Marketing Initiative. Corporate social responsibility can bring excellent marketing benefits to participating companies—but the advantages run much deeper, as well. Find out what CSR can do for your company in this blog post.
- How To Offer the Ultimate Employee Giving Experience. Boosting employee and workplace giving participation (and the benefits you see from these efforts) depends on team members’ experiences with the programs. Here’s how to offer the best possible!
- 7 Employee Engagement Ideas to Promote Philanthropy. Corporate philanthropy and employee engagement tend to go hand in hand. Check out these seven suggestions for companies aiming to engage employees while pursuing the greater good.