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Corporate Philanthropy & Volunteering Blog

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Letter to a CEO: Why Your Corporate Philanthropy Is Languishing

CEO listening

Dear CEO:

Your heart is in the right place, it really is.  

You know that corporate volunteering and giving are essential programs to have in place at your company if you want to create a positive culture and brand, keep your employees engaged, and recruit top talent - especially Millennials.  And giving back to your community is important not just for the benefits it accrues to your company but also, of course, for the support it offers to the nonprofits and causes you care so deeply about.  You’d like to get your company on track with volunteering and giving, and maybe you’re even scoring a few base hits here and there with your efforts.

But...can I be honest here?  You’re going about it all wrong.  And unfortunately, you’re only scratching the surface of your company’s potential, making the lives of your program administrators needlessly stressful, and - worst of all - failing to inspire your employees or bring out the best in them (or even bring them out to participate at all), which undermines the whole point of your cause venture in the first .  

Here’s where you’re missing the boat:     

Fundraising Ideas for Employee Engagement in Corporate Giving

color wars 3

It’s no secret that corporate volunteer programs are a must.  One study (amongst many) shows that almost one-third of U.S. corporations now embrace some form of employee volunteering, representing a growth of nearly 150% in the last few decades.  Millennials in particular are demanding that office perks include the opportunity to volunteer as a part of their company’s supportive, inspiring and innovative program.  I hear it all the time - leaders at companies without these programs are realizing that young people aren’t knocking on their doors that often, and, consequently, their workforce is growing noticeably grayer. 

But if employee volunteer programs function as a corporate fountain of youth (amongst many other benefits, of course), what about employee giving programs?  Are companies also turning to these programs to stay attractive and relevant to the next generation? 

5 Ways to Create Social Impact With Matching Gifts

matching gifts

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Companies like financial services firm Ernst & Young understand that matching gifts programs aren’t just a perk for your staff. Indeed, Ernst & Young doesn’t see these programs as a perk at all: rather than a side project, their matching gifts program is an integral part of Ernst & Young’s overall strategy.

The matching gifts program at Ernst & Young has tight parameters, rewarding employees for donating only to an accredited nonprofit college or university in the United States. Small donations need not apply - the company only tracks donations over $25 (or $100 for more senior personnel), and the donations to a single college or university must be over $2,500 for a calendar year to be matched. Despite the restrictions, or perhaps because of them, the program has flourished, allowing Ernst & Young to maintain close connections with the accounting and business programs at top American universities.

Companies looking to create a matching program of their own are often at a loss for where to start. Even companies with long-standing matching gifts programs would do well to examine potential improvements. Ellen Glazerman, Executive Director of the Ernst & Young Foundation, the nonprofit that oversees matching donations for Ernst & Young employees, was happy to sit down with us and describe how her company’s matching gifts program has thrived.

Here’s Glazerman’s list of the five ways you can maximize the benefits of your own matching program:

Crowdfunding + Corporate Philanthropy = New Fundraising Software


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Crowdfunding is generally defined as an internet-based collective effort between people who pool money to help fund an activity or an entrepreneurial endeavor. Also called crowdsourcing, crowdfunding is used to underwrite a variety of activities, including new products, artistic efforts, political campaigns or scientific research, just to name a few.  In return, if a product or project actually gets developed and produced, investors often either receive the final product, a portion of the profits or small shares of equity.  

In their May 2012 Crowdfunding Industry Report, reports that about $1.5 billion dollars was raised via crowdfunding in 2011.  Crowdfunding platforms (CFPs) like Kickstarter and global site Indiegogo facilitate crowdfunding efforts with big number successes;  since 2009, Kickstarter has raised over $250 million in pledges while Indiegogo has funded over 100,000 projects from more than 196 countries.  Given the rising popularity of crowdfunding, it’s not surprising that the number of CFPs is expected to increase to 530 by December 2012, up from the last count of 452 in April 2012.  

When is Corporate Philanthropy Like a Great Game?

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Crowdfunding is a term generally reserved for raising money to support the next new startup, but it can also be used to define a new kind of employee giving program. This growing trend combines gamification and social media to boost employee engagement and increase community impact. Mix these elements together and you get corporate competitive crowdfunding.

Corporate competitive crowdfunding is the hot new buzzword helping to define one aspect of corporate giving, a charitable category that has been on the rise.  In fact, according to a 2011 report by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, 65% of corporations increased their corporate giving from 2009 to 2010, and 53% gave more in 2010 than they did before the economic downturn in 2007. With so many companies jumping on the corporate philanthropy bandwagon, it’s important to not be left behind.  Crowdfunding is an excellent tool to lead the way.  

Leading Corporate Philanthropy Impact from the Bottom Up


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The best ideas in corporate social responsibility don’t always come from the boardroom or the CSR manager.  Sometimes they come from ordinary folks just trying to do their best.

Case in point, a corporate fundraising effort by AT&T to support Cell Phones for Soldiers, a project that stemmed from the hearts, minds and piggy banks of Robbie and Brittany Bergquist, 12 and 13 years old at the time of the project’s launch eight years ago.  Since the Bergquists launched their effort, Cell Phones for Soldiers has paid for over 168 million minutes of free talk time, provided more than 2.3 million calling cards and recycled over 10.5 million phones to help America’s servicemen and women. Other companies sponsoring CPS include Chevrolet, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Comcast, Recellular and Verizon.

AT&T saw the program as a natural opportunity for employee engagement, not to mention a way to make a direct, immediate and measurable positive change in the community. Few things are going to cheer up a soldier faster than hearing a friendly voice on the other end of the phone.  CPS also gives back in the form of responsible electronics recycling of a related product, taking the proceeds from these recycled phones and using the proceeds to buy international cards for enlisted men and women.

When Corporate Philanthropy & Community Service Mean Life or Death


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While corporate social responsibility is all well and good, you might be one of the people left wondering: so what? Does the cost of corporate volunteering really give your company a return on investment that’s worth it? Sure, you’ve read statistics about employee engagement programs and the difference they make in terms of team morale. You’re just not entirely convinced that there aren’t better ways to get that morale, or even to what degree it translates into a more efficient and profitable business.

If you need a little convincing, Xerox Corporation provides a case study in how a culture of giving back can mean the difference between prosperity and doom.

3 Fundraising Ideas For Corporate Giving

Competitive social fundraiser

One of the best ways for companies to increase employee engagement while improving their communities is through their corporate giving programs.  And the most effective workplace giving happens when companies lead their staff in campaigns that have a little pizazz.

Yes, believe it or not, giving campaigns can be cool.  But how do you put the fun in fundraiser so that your employees actually want to participate?

When casting about for fundraising ideas - ones that also happen to be employee engagement ideas - start with the 3Fs: food, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and first-place.

Allow me to explain.

Best Non-Profit Fundraising Idea? Corporate Philanthropy

corporate philanthropy

For every non-profit, there’s no way around it.

Your cause is relevant and worthy. You’ve identified the need and crafted a breakthrough solution that will ensure tangible impact. 

Your mission statement is both beautiful and inspiring.

You’ve assembled an impassioned, dedicated staff ready to execute your vision. 

All's in place.  Time to get the ball rolling. 

But, oh yeah, there’s just one minor detail left.

You need money to make it all happen.

Fundraising and development are inescapable realities for nonprofits.  And while there are lots of great fundraising ideas out there, one of the most important and poorly leveraged is corporate philanthropy.

Matching Gifts: A Corporate Benefit that Improves Employee Retention?

Matching gifts programs are a big employee perk

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Telecommuting, competitive pay, stock options, extended vacation time, a gym, catered lunches and other attractive benefits will get talented recruits to come work for your company. But once they’ve arrived, how do you keep them?  

Much of the time, the cause to stay is...cause.

Human resources professionals increasingly recognize that one of the most important components of any employee retention strategy is a diverse corporate volunteer program that reflects the values of its employees.  Implementing an internal employee giving and corporate volunteer platform with a variety of non-profit choices allows workers to conveniently support the causes that are near and dear to their heart.  

And when a company offers matching contributions for every donation an employee makes, the message the company sends to the employee is “I care about what you care about.”  

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