Corporate Matching Gifts are More Common Than You Think

Last year, LWSF received 546 matching gifts and volunteer grants, which helped us raise more than $50,000 in corporate matches alone.

During Microsoft’s annual month of giving in October, several teams from Microsoft visited our Pantry Packs warehouse to assemble a total of 2,073 weekend food packs that were distributed to more than 900 students in the Lake Washington School District experiencing food insecurity.

This physical packing work is vital to the success of the program. But there’s a bonus: for every hour a Microsoft employee volunteers with us, Microsoft donates $25.  

It’s an incredible program, but it’s not uncommon. Many companies have employee giving programs that generously match an employee’s monetary contributions to qualified nonprofits. Like Microsoft and Boeing, many will also donate money whenever an employee volunteers time. 

In fact, last year, Lake Washington Schools Foundation raised more than $40,000 through corporate matches and volunteer grants. 

How does it work? Let’s take a closer look at the two most common forms of corporate philanthropy:  

  • Employee matching gifts: Donations offered by companies to nonprofits that their employees have already supported.  
  • Volunteer grants: Monetary contributions made by a company to a nonprofit that their employees have volunteered for. 

What are corporate matching gift and employee volunteer grant programs?

Corporate matching gift programs are charitable giving programs created by corporations in which the company matches donations made by employees to nonprofit organizations or educational institutions. Donors can double their impact by utilizing the matching gift programs that are in place at thousands of companies. 

Employee giving programs have been around since 1954, when the GE Foundation created the Corporate Alumni Program, the first corporate matching gift program. Today, the GE Foundation matches over $35 million annually to 501(c)(3) organizations and accredited educational institutions (including K-12). Since then, thousands of companies have created similar employee giving programs.  

The most common match ratio is 1:1, meaning that the company will donate the exact same amount as the employee did. Each company will set a dollar amount that they will contribute in matching gifts per employee each year. Employees can then make as many matching gift requests as they like until they hit that maximum dollar amount. 

Volunteer grant programs, also known as “Dollars for Doers” programs, are charitable giving programs designed by companies to provide a monetary donation to eligible nonprofits where their employees volunteer as a way to encourage community engagement. 

If you volunteer for a nonprofit organization like ours and work for a company with a volunteer grant program, you can request a volunteer grant from your employer to increase your impact on our organization. These volunteer grants can be set amounts (such as $750 for 50 hours volunteered) or hourly amounts (such as $25 per hour volunteered). 

Last year, we received 500 matching gifts and volunteer grants, which helped us raise more than $40,000 in corporate matches alone!  

You can help us reach this figure again by searching for your own match-eligibility here. Immediately gain access to detailed information about your employer’s corporate giving programs and assess your eligibility by searching our database of companies that offer employee matching.

We’ll provide you with as much of the following as possible:  

  • Up-to-date, company-specific program guidelines 
  • Minimum volunteer hours required to qualify for a matching donation 
  • Links to the online matching gift request forms or downloadable PDFs offered by your employer 
  • Our contact information (Tax ID, address, fundraising contact), which you may need for your matching gift request 

How common are corporate giving programs?

Corporate giving programs have gotten more popular with time. More than 65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gift or volunteer grant programs, and countless smaller companies have followed suit.  

Some companies have gotten creative with their corporate giving, offering higher matches to organizations in a specific sector (educational, cultural, environmental, etc.) or even matching funds raised by employees in peer-to-peer campaigns. 

A few examples of these programs include: 

  • Microsoft matches each employee’s donations of money, products, and time to nonprofits, at a 1:1 ratio, up to $15,000 a year. The match of volunteer time is $25 per hour that an employee volunteers. 
  • Verizon provides $750 grants for 50 volunteer hours and matches up to $5,000 annually  
  • IBM provides $1,000 grants to nonprofits where an employee has volunteered for 40 hours. They also match up to $5,000 annually for current employees or retirees.  
  • BP, in addition to similarly generous matching gift and volunteer grant programs, matches funds raised for nonprofit walks, runs, etc. and offers every employee an annual $300 grant to donate to any nonprofit organization, no initial donation or volunteering required. 

Thousands of companies, representing more than 18 million people, offer matching gift or volunteer grant programs. 

We hope you’ll take a few extra minutes to see if your company offers employee giving grants — grants that could equal hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars for the nonprofit organizations and educational institutions you care about – like us! 

Jamie is the Development Officer for Lake Washington Schools Foundation.

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