What is employee giving and why is it important?

Creating a successful employee giving program

Creating an employee giving program will help your people to feel proud of the business they work for. Many of the world’s top companies have a workplace giving program through which they support nonprofits and engage with their local communities.

As an employer, you are leading by example. In this article, you’ll get a better understanding of what this type of program is and how you can introduce one into your organization effectively.

What is an employee giving program?

Employee giving programs (or corporate philanthropy programs) are an opportunity for companies to engage their people in small acts of kindness that contribute to major change and impact.

A workplace giving program can involve making tax-deductible donations to nonprofits and providing funding for volunteer grants.

For more on what employee giving is, why it matters and how to get employees of all levels involved, check out this episode of The Social Impact Show by Benevity.

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What are the 5 main types of employee giving?

Below are five elements you can offer to your employees in a workplace giving program.

1. Employee donation matching

Within your workforce, it is likely that many of your people will want to make donations to a worthy cause. With donation matching, the employer matches the donations contributed by the employee.

When an employer provides a matching gift, it creates a larger impact for the recipient nonprofits.

Donations can be made through automatic payroll deductions. Employees can set up these donations in a few clicks and leave them running for as long as they wish. 

There’s usually a cap on the amount the company will match per employee.

Ultimately, the donations the nonprofit receives can be doubled, tripled or even quadrupled through this type of corporate giving. Therefore, donations — little or large — go that much further. This assures employees that no matter what they’re giving, they’re making a difference. 

2. Gifting or in-kind donations

Charitable giving doesn’t need to be just about donating money. In fact, there are some nonprofits who would benefit from material items such as clothing, food and medical supplies.

Those employees who might not have the money to make donations can help this way. It’s important to never assume that everyone can give money. For some, it might not be possible.

Encourage employees to give gifts or in-kind donations — it all helps the chosen nonprofit organizations.

3. Employee do-good grants

Employee grants can be a way to reward employees taking part in your workplace giving and volunteering program.

Instead of the employee receiving a financial reward personally, they give it to a nonprofit. The employee doesn’t apply for the grant, but their hard work is recognized with it. 

For example, an employee could be rewarded for promoting volunteerism in the workplace or for contributing to events and campaigns — be it with their time, in-kind donations or something else.

Grants are a great way for employees to share their success and make an impact — even if they’re not in a position to donate financially. This type of reward also encourages employees to do good in the workplace more regularly. 

4. Grants for volunteering expenses

Your company can award a grant to help support an employee with any volunteer opportunities they wish to participate in.

Many companies will provide grants to cover costs for travel, meals and any other general expenses.

5. Dollars for doers

You can give your employees rewards currency based on the number of hours they’ve volunteered. Employees can then donate these rewards to a nonprofit of their choice.

Employees track their volunteer time, whether it’s for a specific nonprofit or for an act of kindness. They may have participated in a group volunteering event organized by your company or offered their time independently,  

What are the benefits of employee giving?

Well, where to begin?

The benefits are great for your company’s reputation, as well as for your employees and the communities they serve. If you want to start an employee giving program, here are some benefits that will help you win buy-in from stakeholders.

Increase in employee engagement

Employee giving programs will enable your people to go the extra mile with their charitable giving and volunteering.

They can also help increase employee engagement, since your people will know you have a workplace culture that’s committed to corporate social responsibility.

Businesses and leaders need to build trust with their employees if they hope to increase engagement. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, businesses are now the most trusted institution, and employees globally place a 77% level of trust in their employer to do what is right. 

Employee giving programs demonstrate your company’s commitment and they help fulfill that ever-growing employer-employee relationship.


Employer branding

Aligning your company’s values with your people’s values will be positive for your business and your reputation as an employer.

Fundraising and assisting your people in making an impact with nonprofits will help improve your workplace culture and increase employee engagement.

Investment potential

By supporting nonprofits, fundraising and actively engaging in corporate giving, there’s an ROI in the form of new customers and investment opportunities. 

Larry Fink of BlackRock (one of the most influential investors globally — BlackRock manages over $10 trillion in investments) has affirmed this. “Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose,” he said 

3 top employee giving programs

There are many examples of successful employee engagement programs. Take inspiration from these companies when creating your own program.

Google’s matching gifts program

Google’s employee matching program matches up to $10,000 1:1 for every employee! Full-time and part-time employees are eligible, as well as board members. 

Their employee matching policy covers donations for most nonprofits, including health and human services, educational, arts, cultural, civic, community and environmental organizations. 

The slate is wiped clean each calendar year, so employees will receive matching for their donations the next year too. 

ADM’s dollars for doers program

In 2020, alongside various other employee giving initiatives, ADM’s dollars for doers program really stepped up. It helped provide COVID-19 emergency support to over 10 million people, assisted over 6 million students and donated over 389 million meals across the globe. 

ADM Cares aligns with the company’s business strategies and sustainability objectives while helping vulnerable communities and providing employees with a greater sense of purpose.  

Bank of America’s gift matching program

Bank of America’s commitment to corporate social responsibility through monetary gifts and volunteering is apparent. 

They encourage their employees to contribute to and fundraise for the nonprofits they care about — and then double their people’s impact with donation matching.

Annually, they provide more than $25 million in matching gift contributions and they were honored in 2018 by Fortune for being a Best Workplace for Giving Back.

Implementing a successful employee giving program

So, how do you go about implementing an employee giving program for your business? We have you covered with a step-by-step guide below.

Start with funding

Firstly, you’ll need to set a budget. Think about your company’s values and how much you’re willing and able to allocate to your program. You may need to build a business case.

Speak to board members and ensure you have the support of everyone in senior leadership. It’s important to get executives involved in your program, as employees will notice if they’re not participating.

Communicate with leadership early and often, and tell them why this program matters. Ask them which causes they’re personally passionate about and — if it’s authentic to your company culture — consider a volunteer event aligned with what they care about.  

Recruit those who are interested

Some employees may want to volunteer while others may want to make donations each month. Approach your people and generate interest in the programs you’re offering. Let them know what’s in it for them and why it should matter to them.

Find out which employees would be interested in helping to lead your company program. They can act as volunteer ambassadors within their respective departments. When your employees are advocates, they will help to build out your program.

Create a plan

When planning your giving program, a defined timeline will be important. Some campaigns will be most effective with a short time frame, while others can run for longer.

Keep in mind the time of year you’re launching your program — don’t let it get lost in seasonal hype. 

By setting limited time periods for campaigns, you can motivate your people to respond quickly to the fundraising or volunteer opportunities you’re providing. When you make an impact fast, your campaign will gain traction. 

Launch your corporate giving program

When it comes to launching your program, be sure to involve the right individuals and teams.

By recruiting a network of local champions or ambassadors, you can ensure your program is universally appealing and all your teams are aware of what’s going on.

When looking for local champions or ambassadors, ask leaders for recommendations and consider those who show enthusiasm by immediately signing up for your program. Having passionate employees share with their peers the reasons why they care about a cause is an effective way to encourage more impact.  

Your launch activities can include:

  • Workshops to introduce the program.
  • Video teasers to get your employees excited about what’s to come.
  • A company-wide newsletter or announcement to share program details.
  • A giving campaign and volunteering event to kick-start it all.

How to run an employee giving program on a small budget

For small budgets, seeding campaigns are a tactic that works well. Putting donation currency into your employees’ accounts shows you care.

And it will incentivize your employees to support the causes they care about. Even a small amount like $5 or $10 makes people more likely to donate and participate. Remember to let your employees know you’ve seeded their accounts. 

You can generate extra excitement by running a seeding lottery or raffle where one employee is awarded with a higher-than-normal amount. 

When data software company Splunk launched their program, they gave every employee $10. And one employee was randomly selected to receive $10,000, which they could then donate to a cause of their choice. This launch event led employees to log in, become engaged and give to nonprofits. Within the first week, 62% of Spunk employees donated to 1,300 nonprofits! Find out more about Splunk’s impressive giving program in this video. 


A platform for employee giving

Companies like yours can benefit from using an employee giving and matching tool for programs like this. 

Benevity’s Employee Engagement Solution can support your efforts toward helping the community and meeting your corporate social responsibility goals.

Employee giving FAQs

What is a corporate giving program? 

It’s an initiative that encourages employees to give back to their community and the nonprofits they care about. These corporate giving programs contribute greatly toward supporting those in need. 

How do you incentivize employees to donate? 

You can give rewards in the form of donation currency — e.g., an hourly rate for volunteering. You can match your employees’ donations so their impact goes even further. And you can organize campaigns on the runup to awareness dates and in response to major events.

How do you ask an employee for donations? 

Find causes that employees care about and make donating as easy as possible, like automatic payroll deductions. Rewards are a great way to incentivize employees to donate. Reiterate the benefits of helping those less fortunate, and employees will likely be more inclined to donate.