As the labor market has tightened, employee benefits have evolved and companies have begun offering more robust and diverse financial perks as ways to hold on to valued staff. Corporate matching programs are a particularly popular benefit. These programs support philanthropy by allowing employees to donate to or volunteer for the cause of their choice. In fact, according to Forbes Magazine, the 20 most generous companies donated $3.5 billion in cash in 2015, much of it via employee matching programs.
Exemplary donation programs are a solid indicator of company culture. Sara Almeida, who has worked for an enterprise technology company for more than a decade, uses her employer’s matching benefit to support causes that are meaningful to her.
“I’ve always been interested in giving back,“ Sara says, “but working full-time, and occasionally overtime, means free time is scarce. Now when I’m looking to volunteer or donate, I’m more compelled to follow through knowing my contribution [will be] double what I can give. It’s a great motivator! It makes me grateful to work somewhere that incentivizes us and also supports what we are passionate about.”
She isn’t the only employee who feels this way. “Many of my coworkers take advantage of this employee benefit,” Sara continues. “We’re all very different, so some may donate to local arts nonprofit centers, while others go build houses with Habitat for Humanity. There aren’t any sanctioned causes—it’s whatever speaks to you.”
Sara’s employer uses Benevity, which supports resources such as giving programs, and also maintains a robust database with information about charities, grants, and volunteer opportunities. Benevity is used by industry leaders such as Google, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and others.
On the recipient side, Double the Donation can help nonprofits and schools get paired up with corporations that have a match program. Double the Donation offers a gift-matching lookup tool to help donors find qualifying companies, as well as a plugin that can be added to a nonprofit’s website to help boost matches and reach.
Leading by Example
Regardless of the size of your organization, setting up a matching program is a worthy addition to your employee benefits package. It’s a tangible extension of leading by example, and speaks to your organization’s values. Additionally, offering incentives for volunteerism and philanthropy keeps your staff content—and may even contribute to retention. A 2011 study by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) noted that matching gift programs “can be instrumental in attracting and retaining employees, as they foster goodwill and increase employee engagement.”
When it comes to company involvement, many companies focus on corporate matching, but you could also—or alternatively—provide an opportunity for hands-on work and paid time off (PTO) for volunteerism. For example, at NuStar Energy, based in San Antonio, TX, employees are given up to 60 hours of PTO to volunteer every year.
According to a study published by the federal Corporation for National and Community Service, approximately 63 million U.S. residents volunteer annually. That breaks down to approximately 7.9 billion volunteer hours, valued at $184 billion. These numbers have seen a steady increase over the years, thanks in part to companies that offer philanthropic and volunteer-related benefits.
Rhienna Renée Guedry is a Louisiana-born Portland transplant best known for her writing, illustration, and curation of the best Halloween parties this side of the Mason-Dixon.