Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a business model that guides businesses in committing to play a positive role in society. For many companies, this can mean reducing their environmental impact, improving diversity and inclusion, and following fair labor policies. Another common way to implement CSR initiatives is to participate in corporate philanthropy through matching gift programs.
Corporate philanthropy includes any of the activities that a corporation or business performs to promote the well-being of others (typically through donations of money or time). These programs are instrumental in helping the business build a strong reputation. Not only do customers appreciate socially responsible companies, but prospective and current employees also value working for businesses that are committed to social good.
Because of these benefits, corporate philanthropy initiatives such as matching gift programs can be viewed as an investment in your business, helping you maintain strong relationships with customers, retain employees, and even reduce internal costs. In this guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of matching gift programs and why it’s important for your business to have one:
There are many different ways that your business can participate in CSR. Let’s get started by defining matching gift programs, one of the simplest (yet most impactful) ways to encourage employee giving and help nonprofits further their purpose.
What is a matching gift program?
Through a matching gift program, a business will financially match donations that their employees make to eligible nonprofits. The most common match ratio is 1:1, but your company’s match ratio could be anywhere from 0.5:1 to 4:1 depending on your budget.
The matching gift process works like this:
- An employee makes their donation to a nonprofit and checks their eligibility.
- They submit a match request form to you (their employer).
- You follow up with the nonprofit to confirm the gift and then contribute to that organization.
There are a variety of other employee giving initiatives your business could start in addition to a matching gift program, from team fundraising challenges to in-kind donation drives to corporate volunteerism efforts. However, matching gifts are one of the most popular because the donations employees already make are doubled at no extra cost to them. These programs help them make an even greater impact on the causes that they are passionate about and show that your company supports them in their philanthropic endeavors.
There are a wide variety of benefits associated with CSR for both your business and its employees. CSR programs help increase employee loyalty, improve company culture, and reduce turnover by making employees feel connected and valued.
Matching gift programs can also have a positive impact on employees’ mental health. Contributing to a worthy cause through financial donations and volunteering boosts mental and emotional well-being. Matching gift programs not only encourage and spread awareness about giving to nonprofits but also give employees the power to contribute more than they could on their own.
1. Improved employee morale
In addition to improving your employees’ mental health, giving can also increase employee morale at your company. As a leader at your business, you know the value of building a positive workplace with employees who are happy and fulfilled in their jobs. But there are other benefits that stem from having happy employees besides a pleasant work environment:
- Increased productivity. Happier employees tend to have more energy, be more focused on their work, and ultimately achieve more each day. More productive employees help your company set and accomplish ambitious goals to expand your operations.
- Higher quality work. In addition to getting work done faster, satisfied employees are more likely to go the extra mile. Employees who are happy in their roles are often more creative, pay closer attention to detail, and work better in teams.
- Better retention. Happy, driven employees are the most likely to remain with your company for years to come. Retention rates can have an impact on your bottom line as it’s much more expensive to hire and train new employees than it is to retain current ones.
Boosting morale at your business with philanthropic opportunities can also build a stronger company culture. Your employees might band together to donate to their favorite cause and help them reach their fundraising goal with the help of your company’s matching gift program. Or, you could organize company volunteering days at some organizations where the business has matched employee donations to build connections and relationships outside the office.
2. Incentivizing giving
Nonprofits depend on financial gifts from supporters to fund their programs, pay staff members, and make a difference in beneficiaries’ lives. By encouraging employees to give through a company matching gift program, you can help nonprofits continue to make a positive impact, expand their operations, and further their purpose.
To boost the impact of your matching gift program, consider these tips:
- Regularly share information about your matching gift program with employees. Make sure each employee knows that you have a matching gift program, understands how a matching gift program works, and receives instructions for requesting a matching gift. You can share lists of well-known or even local nonprofits with brief descriptions of their purpose to inspire employees to give.
- Setting a low minimum amount. By having a low minimum gift threshold to qualify for matching gifts, you’ll make it easier for employees to get involved regardless of their charitable budget size. 93% of matching gift companies have a minimum match amount set at or less than $50.
- Broadening your matching gift program eligibility. Often, full-time employees are eligible to submit matching gift requests at their company. However, you can boost participation by allowing part-time employees, retired employees, and employees’ spouses to access the program as well.
Furthermore, your business can incentivize giving through your matching gift program by recognizing the employees who contributed the most at the end of the year. Reference your matching gift data to determine which employees donated the most. Then, award them with a recognition eCard and a small incentive (like a gift card or their favorite snack) to encourage other employees to follow their lead.
3. Attracting talented employees
When your company recruits new hires, you need talented, highly qualified candidates. And these prospective employees have equally high standards for their potential employers. They will not only look into your company’s culture and work environment but also carefully consider your business’s compensation and benefits.
In addition to a competitive salary, the talented candidates you want on your team need a more complete compensation package that includes:
- Health coverage. Be clear about what health coverage you offer, including medical, dental, vision, and disability, and the providers you work with. Some employees may be interested in opting out of your employee health plan and instead receiving a credit they can use to purchase their own insurance.
- Yearly bonuses. Communicate your pay structure and how annual bonuses will be distributed, whether they’re based on commissions, meeting specific business goals, seniority, or another system. You might also offer additional bonuses, such as extra paid time off.
- Workforce development opportunities. Ensure new hires know that your company empowers them to build a long-term, fulfilling career. As candidates move through the hiring process, discuss the paths for advancement open to them and how your business will support their growth.
- Philanthropic opportunities. Employees want to work for organizations that are making a positive difference in the world. In fact, nearly 60% of employees who work at a business with a corporate philanthropy program they feel proud of are more engaged in their jobs. This means that offering philanthropic opportunities, such as volunteer days and matching gifts, can help you find new hires and boost your current employees’ motivation.
Keep in mind that the job market is just as competitive on the employer side as it is for candidates. When job hunting, prospective employees are on the lookout for employers who will support them, their interests, and their philanthropic goals. This is especially true for new Gen Z workers, with reports finding:
- 64% believe it’s important for their employer to act on environmental issues.
- 54% would be willing to take a pay cut to work with an employer whose policies align with their ethics.
- 31% would turn down a job from an organization with poor environmental, social, and governance standards.
To stand out among the sea of other companies looking for qualified new hires, highlight your commitment to supporting the causes employees are passionate about.
4. Partnerships with community organizations
Matching gifts can be a gateway to further partnerships with nonprofits and other organizations in your community. These partnerships will help you develop your corporate philanthropy initiatives, allowing you to reinvest in the community. Aside from that, they will also allow you to:
- Set yourself apart from the competition. The same study found that 69% of Americans are less likely to support companies that are only in the business to make money. Demonstrating your interest in nonprofit missions will help set you apart from your competition, resulting in more clients, more employee applicants, and greater financial success for your business.
- Access marketing opportunities. Mission-driven organizations often offer marketing perks to businesses that partner with them. For example, if you sponsor a local nonprofit’s next charity auction, they might include your company’s branding on their promotional materials. This allows you to reach new potential customers that may not otherwise have known about your business.
- Network with other community members. Your involvement with nonprofit organizations offers more than just brand exposure—you’ll encounter people and groups that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Partnering with a nonprofit may help you get in touch with other organizations or key leaders in your community, and you’ll ultimately be able to build stronger relationships with these figures.
While you’ll likely match gifts to nonprofits your employees care about, other nonprofits will reach out to you directly for support. Keep an open mind to the different organizations you can support, especially if their missions align with that of your company.
5. Improved company reputation
Partnering with nonprofits through matching gifts and other corporate philanthropy programs shows your company’s commitment to social good, empowering you to win the support of your community. A focus on corporate philanthropy through a matching gifts program positions your company as socially responsible in the eyes of:
- Employees: 71% of employees consider it important to work for a company that invests in philanthropic endeavors. Because matching gift programs allow employees the flexibility to choose a nonprofit to support, this is a surefire way to secure their commitment to your company.
- Customers: 77% of consumers are inclined to purchase from companies that work to make the world a better place. With a philanthropic reputation, your company will secure the loyalty of your existing customers and garner the support of new consumers.
- The community: Other company leaders, shareholders, and institutions will be more likely to support your business if it has a charitable reputation. Plus, you’ll have an impressive impact report to clearly lay out how your charitable giving has improved the community.
Remember, you can leverage corporate giving software to raise awareness and manage your matching gifts program. This will help employees notice your giving programs and start thinking about ways to give back.
You’ll probably focus on promoting matching gifts to your employees and not to the greater community. But to maximize the benefits you reap from corporate giving, you’ll need to look beyond matching gifts to other philanthropic programs. Thoroughly research potential initiatives that would benefit your business, such as sponsorships, volunteer grants, automatic payroll deductions, and annual giving.
Matching gift programs benefit companies in many ways, from recruiting to retaining new employees to boosting productivity. These benefits can help your business grow by increasing your revenue and building a positive, productive company culture and reputation. As an added benefit, your company can empower employees to help nonprofits achieve their goals, whether they contribute to the organization’s next giving day or push them across the finish line at a fundraising event.