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5 best workplace giving programs to engage employees

November 02, 2021
An employee working at a business with a matching gift program smiles while working on her computer.

For-profit businesses can support charitable causes in many ways through various forms of corporate philanthropy. Common examples include grantmaking, in-kind donations, company-wide days of service, and workplace giving. Workplace giving initiatives differ from typical corporate philanthropy efforts in that individual employees take the driver’s seat, as opposed to the corporations themselves.

In this guide, we’ll discuss a few of our favorite kinds of workplace giving programs, how they are uniquely positioned to engage employees, and how corporate social responsibility (CSR) software can help scale your efforts. These programs include: 

  1. Matching gifts
  2. Dollars for Doers (D4D)
  3. Charitable spending accounts (CSAs)
  4. Payroll deductions
  5. Seasonal giving campaigns

Beyond doing good and supporting your nonprofit partners, workplace giving programs are proven to have multiple benefits for businesses. From driving employee engagement and boosting retention to offering name recognition and supporting brand loyalty, there’s no shortage of reasons why you should invest! 

Ready to learn more about our five favorite types of CSR programs? Let’s dive in!

1. Matching gifts

Matching gifts (also known as employer, company, or corporate gift matching) is one of the most common workplace giving programs. Here’s how it works:

  1. The matching gift journey begins when an individual donor makes a monetary contribution to a nonprofit of their choice. This contribution can be made directly to the nonprofit’s fundraising page or through a corporate giving platform. Before, during, or after the donation process, donors are encouraged to research whether their employer offers a matching gift program and, if so, whether their gift would be eligible.
  2. Upon determining that their employer does match nonprofit donations, the supporter submits an online matching application to their company. This match request likely includes basic details about the nonprofit receiving the donation (such as contact information and the employer identification number) as well as a copy of the initial donation receipt.
  3. The company then reviews the request, ensures the gift falls within its eligibility guidelines, verifies the initial donation made with the organization, and submits its matching gift to the nonprofit. Depending on the company’s matching gift policy, they may match the donation at a 1:1, 2:1, or even 3:1 ratio.

As an employer, implementing CSR software can reduce your administrative burden by automating matching gift approvals and routing payments. CSR software also allows employees to to search for eligible nonprofits, check if a match is offered, and track thier impact through personalized profiles.

Matching gift programs are also a great way to double the impact of your employees’ efforts, acknowledge and appreciate their generosity, and show that you care about causes that your employees are passionate about.

2. Dollars for Doers (D4D) 

Similar to matching gifts, Dollars for Doers programs offer a workplace giving opportunity in which companies increase the value of their employees' support. Rather than doubling monetary donations, though, Dollars for Doers programs provide funding to organizations their employees volunteer at regularly.

A Dollars for Doers program generally follows six steps: 

  1. An employee gives back to a nonprofit or cause of their choosing. 
  2. The employee logs their “actions” within their employee giving portal. 
  3. The employee submits a request for a Dollars for Doers grant. 
  4. The employer verifies the action and nonprofit, then makes a donation to the select nonprofit.
  5. The employer can calculate the total “impact” based on the action and the match amount. 
  6. The employer can share impact numbers internally and publicly to promote employee volunteering. 

As an employer, listen to your workforce and figure out where they’re allocating their time and energy. Do they align themselves with certain types of current events? Respond to disasters or crises? Give back to community-based organizations? Once you’ve identified those causes, implement a Dollars for Doers program that shows your employees you care about causes that matter to them. 

When you partner with a CSR software provider, you can highlight featured programs on your dashboard to spread awareness and ensure information is easily accessible to participants. Your employees can also share photos from their volunteer events to inspire others to get involved. 

3. Charitable spending accounts 

In addition to matching gifts and D4D programs, employers have begun to embrace more accessible and flexible ways to engage employees. For many, the easiest way to offer more equitable programming is through a charitable spending account. 

Charitable spending accounts are a unique form of workplace giving in which eligible employees receive a particular dollar amount each year, which can be donated to a nonprofit organization of their choice. Your company can select the budget ($25, $50, $100, etc.) and the time frame (per month or year), but the rest is up to your employees. 

By managing these programs through CSR software, you remove the need to request a match, and donations are recorded immediately, making it easy to give. The efficiency and simplicity of these programs can help you build a more confident recurring donor base for the nonprofits your employees support.

4. Payroll deductions

With payroll deductions, employees are given the opportunity to withhold a predetermined dollar amount from each paycheck they receive. This amount is then routed to a nonprofit that the employee has selected from a list of company-approved organizations.

This makes giving as simple as possible for employees. Once they set up the paycheck deduction, the rest happens automatically, offering them an easy and tax-effective way to make a monetary donation. For nonprofits, payroll donations are reliable, allowing them to plan ahead with confidence. 

5. Seasonal giving campaigns

Another way companies choose to support charitable organizations is through seasonal giving campaigns. Many organizations host seasonal giving campaigns during the months of October through December (otherwise known as the “giving season”) and align employee giving programs with well-known days like Giving Tuesday.

Don’t feel like you need to limit yourself to just one season. There are dozens of holidays and awareness months throughout the year that your organization can celebrate through a workplace giving campaign. 

Consider aligning your next corporate giving campaign with upcoming events like Earth Day, Pride Month, or National Nonprofit Day. This is a great way to engage your workforce in point-in-time giving and encourage a year-round approach to philanthropy. 

Scale your programs with CSR software

Corporate philanthropy initiatives allow your business to earn benefits like employee engagement and brand loyalty while supporting nonprofits that deliver meaningful services to individuals and communities in need. To implement these programs, partner with a CSR software provider to alleviate administrative burdens and streamline processes.

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