Leveraging your company’s matching gift programs

With Silicon Valley Gives – our region’s giving day – just over two months away, it’s a great time to review how people making a donation to their favorite charity may be able to benefit the charity even more by taking advantage of an employer’s matching gift program.

In 2015, 90% of U.S. companies surveyed offered a donation matching program to their employees, according to CECP’s 2015 Giving in Numbers. It’s also estimated by Double the Donation that more than $6 billion in money budgeted for matching gifts programs is left on the table annually. That’s billions of dollars to advance social impact globally that goes unclaimed every year. Imagine all of the good that could be accomplished with an additional $6 billion flowing to NGOs.

What are the most common types of corporate matching programs?

Matching gifts: Under these programs, companies will match their employees’ donations to eligible charitable organizations. Keep in mind that the “match” could be dollar for dollar, 50 cents to the dollar or another ratio. Typically, companies specify a per person cap that cannot be exceeded within a given period of time. Matching gifts programs may be offered during some type of promoted annual campaign (often in the fall months), or may be offered year round.

Volunteer grants: Often called “dollars for doers,” these programs drive company donations to eligible organizations where employees volunteer their time. Typically, a company will commit to donating a specific dollar amount per hour of volunteering completed.

Disaster relief campaigns: When a major disaster strikes, companies will often set up a campaign to drive employee donations to particular responding organizations, and will offer an increased match (for example, a two-to-one match) or a match opportunity that does not affect employees’ match “cap” during a specific time period.

Employees seeking a matching gift for a nonprofit should keep in mind:

  • Employee engagement programs, including matching gift programs, often have different match caps or program parameters for company executives or those serving on nonprofit boards. Be sure you know the rules about any additional opportunities available.
  • Understand your program guidelines; your company may not match donations or volunteer time to certain types of organizations (such as churches), for instance.
  • Depending on the partners your company works with to operate its program, it can take some time for your donation and company match to get to the nonprofit organization. Keep this in mind if you’re supporting a time-sensitive project or program.
  • During Silicon Valley Gives, some local employers have established specific matching gifts or prizes for certain nonprofit organizations. For a list of available prizes and matches, refer to www.svgives.org as we get closer to SVGives day, May 3.

Find out more about your company’s matching gift programs! These programs are normally handled by Community Affairs, Corporate Responsibility or Human Resources departments. Or check out your employee handbook (usually in the benefits section) or other human resources information posted on your company intranet.

In 2015, Silicon Valley Community Foundation administered more than $50 million in matching grants to nearly 25,000 nonprofit organizations across 46 countries through its partnership with SaaS employee engagement provider YourCause. Learn more about employee engagement solutions at SVCF.