Have You Met Your Match?
Thousands of companies, representing more than 15 million people, have matching-gift or volunteer-grant programs. Corporate matching-gift programs are charitable-giving programs created by corporations in which the company matches donations made by employees to eligible nonprofits. Employees can double the impact of their donations by utilizing the existing matching-gift programs that are in place at thousands of employers. The standard match is dollar-for-dollar up to a set limit that normally ranges between $2,000-$10,000 per employee each year.
Volunteer-grant programs, also known as "dollars for doers" programs, are charitable-giving programs set up by corporations in which the company provides a monetary donation to eligible nonprofits as a way to recognize employees who volunteer. Grants normally are valued at $10-$15 per hour volunteered with a minimum volunteer requirement of about 20 hours per calendar year for each employee. Volunteer-grant programs provide an easy way to raise money from volunteers without asking them to take out their checkbooks. Since they're already actively giving their time to nonprofits, it is reasonable to expect that they'll take a few extra minutes to request grants from their employers — grants that could equal hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars for a nonprofit.
How do they work?
Unfortunately, matching-gift and volunteer-grant programs are hardly uniform across organizations. In general though, the corporate guidelines do specify the following:
- Which organizations are eligible? Examples include schools, arts and cultural organizations, community groups, etc.
- What is the matching-gift ratio? How much are volunteer hours worth?
- What is the maximum annual contribution per employee?
- Which employees are eligible to participate? Examples include part-time, board members, retirees, spouses, etc.
- How do employees submit grant requests? Microsoft developed an internal website. Pepsi and Aetna contract out the program administration to third-party companies. American Express and Harley-Davidson use paper applications.
Although many specifics vary, the process can be summed up in five steps: