According to corporate giving studies, more than $4-7 billion in corporate matching gift revenue goes unclaimed by eligible nonprofits and donors each year. Unfortunately, the biggest obstacle to charitable causes collecting those funds is a widespread lack of knowledge about available employee giving programs.

Now, nonprofits are doing what they can to increase awareness of corporate and workplace giving programs to begin closing that gap⁠—but a massive roadblock remains at the source of the issue.

Some companies don’t always inform their staff of philanthropic opportunities, and employees oftentimes lack the motivation required to participate in these programs.

But that can (and should) change.

After all, a lack of workplace giving involvement not only means that mission-driven organizations are missing out on potential corporate dollars. It also means that the companies who have worked hard to organize, launch, and manage these giving programs are not reaping the maximum benefit that employee giving can bring.

That said, if your business is looking for new and better ways to promote employee giving participation among your workforce, this guide will help you explore three things you can do. We recommend that you:

  1. Set broad employee giving participation guidelines.
  2. Simplify the employee giving process.
  3. Allow employees to submit matches directly where they give.
  4. Emphasize mission impact to employees.

When you implement these practices into your company’s workplace giving strategy, more employees will be bursting to take part than ever before.

Let’s begin with our first tip!

1. Set broad employee giving participation guidelines.

As you aim to increase employee giving participation, one of the first places to start is by taking a look at your program guidelines.

Let’s explore a few aspects of your giving programs that you may be able to adjust in order to drive participation:

  • Employee eligibility: Each company that organizes a workplace giving campaign gets to determine exactly which types of employees are eligible to participate. More than likely, all full-time employees will qualify⁠—but you can choose to include gifts made by part-time staff, retired workers, and the spouses of employees as well! And when you open up your employee giving programs to all sorts of staff members, you’ll be sure to see increased levels of participation.
  • Qualifying types of nonprofits: Similar to the above, your company has the ability to decide which kinds of nonprofits may receive corporate giving funds through workplace giving. While some companies may choose a particular type of cause or mission, others will enable any registered 501(c)(3) organization to function as a beneficiary. Still, other businesses may choose a type of nonprofit to exclude (such as houses of worship and other religious organizations), while the rest remain eligible. As you set your workplace giving guidelines, keep in mind that the more categories of nonprofits that fall eligible for your employee giving efforts, the more likely your employees will find charities that align with their personal values and that they’d like to support.
  • Minimums and maximum gifts: If you want to increase your employee giving efforts, it’s a good idea to keep your minimums low and your maximums high. After all, not every employee has the ability or desire to make a major donation to a nonprofit⁠. If your minimum threshold is set too high, few individuals are likely to participate. At the same time, maximums that are too low can cause employee donors to question whether their participation is all that impactful in the first place, and again, you’ll miss out on potential employee gifts.
  • Submission request deadlines: Your employees are busy people. If you set giving deadlines that arrive too quickly, many potential participants will not get around to taking the required action until it’s too late. When you give your staff ample time to prepare and submit their workplace giving request, you allow more individuals to get involved⁠—thus elevating your employee giving levels.

If your criteria for participation are too strict or narrow, they’re likely causing a significant barrier to entry. And that’s exactly what you don’t want when it comes to increasing employee engagement with your giving programs!

2. Simplify the employee giving process.

Ensuring your employee giving programs are quick and easy to get involved with is one of the best ways to drive employee giving participation.

Consider these three things you can do to simplify giving for your employees:

  • Effectively communicate program participation criteria. We mentioned above how crucial it is to broaden your program participation guidelines in order to ensure more of your staff are eligible to take part. On the same note, it’s just as important that you communicate those guidelines to your employees⁠—otherwise, they’ll never know how easy it is to get involved and how much of their support is likely to be eligible. You’ll also want to promote employee giving participation among several programs by highlighting your corporate giving opportunities at multiple internal touchpoints.
  • Offer a multitude of easy ways to give. There are a ton of ways to give to a nonprofit cause, even within the range of a workplace giving effort. An employee may make a gift directly to the organization through their website, give via a peer-to-peer fundraiser, send a check in the mail, donate through a third-party workplace giving platform, and more. Studies show that the vast majority (more than 96%) of employee donors prefer their employer giving programs to encompass support through all of these avenues rather than narrowing the options to a single giving channel.
  • Ensure a streamlined request process. Even for your most charitable-minded employees, there are only so many steps they’re willing to take in order to participate in your workplace giving programs. And the more steps involved in the request and submission processes, the less likely each person is to follow through from start to finish. Luckily, one of the best ways to streamline these processes is by working with a dedicated employee giving software provider that offers a user-friendly employee experience. Some of these providers are even rolling out matching gift auto-submission, which allows donors to request their corporate matches in a single click directly from the gift confirmation page!

The easier it is for an individual to support a cause, the more likely they are to participate⁠—whether that means volunteering or donating, financially or otherwise.

This statement is true regardless of whether you’re on the nonprofit end running a fundraising campaign or an employer organizing a workplace giving initiative. That said, providing an optimal giving experience often leads to an increased ability to do good.

3. Allow employees to submit matches directly where they give.

Although some corporate giving vendors require giving to be processed through their own software systems and passed along to the nonprofit to qualify for workplace giving opportunities, studies show that donors would rather contribute directly to the organizations they support.

In fact, an estimated 86% of donors reported a preference for contributing to a nonprofit through their website, while 8% of survey respondents “indicated a preference for P2P, direct mail, or another form of [direct] giving.” On the other hand, only 6% of donors stated a preference for giving through a workplace giving software provider.

When it comes to nonprofit giving, donors want to give in a way that feels most personal to them⁠—and that means straight to the organization with as few roadblocks as possible. And the same is true for submitting their workplace giving (i.e., matching gift) requests!

If an individual could complete their end of the matching process within the initial giving experience without having to leave the organization’s website, it would reduce and eliminate a significant number of matching gift roadblocks.

In the end, that means more corporate giving revenue for nonprofit organizations, additional engagement opportunities for donors, and elevated program participation (and satisfaction) for companies and corporate software vendors.

The easiest way to do so? Utilizing matching gift auto-submission!

Matching gift auto-submission overview

With this new workplace giving software functionality, a company’s employees can submit their matching gift requests in just a few clicks directly where they gave to the organization. And more than 75% of the largest peer-to-peer focused nonprofits are already eligible to receive automatically processed match requests⁠—just by being equipped with Double the Donation’s tools!

Organizations that qualify to receive auto-submission matches

4. Emphasize mission impact to employees.

According to workplace giving research, approximately 81% of employee donors cite a nonprofit’s mission as one of if not the most important factor going into their decision to support a fundraiser. As such, communicating the effect that your company’s giving programs have on charitable organizations (and the causes behind them) is essential.

Here are two things you can do to highlight mission impact as you grow your employee giving:

  • Share employee giving success stories. If your company has participated in a workplace giving campaign before, it can be extremely impactful to provide employees with positive examples to look to as they choose whether or not to participate in your charitable and philanthropic initiatives. For example, you can share relevant facts and figures such as “we raised $12,000 to feed more than 2,400 families in our community in our 2021 campaign, or “your employee giving dollars provided 1,780 students with much-needed school supplies to support their education.”
  • Offer a high match ratio. The higher the matching gift ratio your company offers, the more individuals are likely to get involved. If you offer a 3:1 matching rate, for instance, you can let employees know that their own contribution impact will be tripled in size⁠—enabling an initial gift of $50 to create $200 worth of mission value. That can be a more significant contributing factor than if your match had been at a lower rate, such as .5:1⁠—an employee may not be as motivated to turn their $50 gift into $75 as they would be for $200.

Ideas like these can help employees see that their participation in corporate giving programs can make a real difference⁠—especially on causes that they care about.

Another way to drive employee giving participation through giving impact is by leveraging a fundraising thermometer. While this tactic takes a more abstract approach for visualizing giving impact (rather than a concrete, mission-focused perspective), a continually updated fundraising tracker can allow employees to watch as their contributions help increase total giving toward a common goal.

When you leverage these powerful best practices for your company’s giving initiatives, you’ll benefit not only your own bottom line but your employees’ satisfaction, engagement, and retention, as well as nonprofit causes working to make the world a better place. Otherwise, you risk missing out on these key advantages and more, allowing your carefully crafted giving programs to fall by the wayside.

Best of luck and happy giving!

To learn more about employee giving and how your business can drive participation, check out these other educational resources from thought leaders in the CSR space: