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6 Questions to Answer in Your Workplace Giving Guidelines

To ensure maximum employee engagement, it’s always helpful to review your workplace giving guidelines. Or, if you’re starting out, to create those workplace giving guidelines!

Thousands of companies are continuing to launch and develop corporate social responsibility initiatives in order to engage and retain their workforce while boosting their image among consumers. If your business falls within that category, you’re probably looking for new ways to elevate your efforts and get more employees further involved⁠—and the answer is workplace giving.

Workplace giving programs enable corporate employees to take a hands-on role in their employers’ CSR endeavors. However, not every company organizes its corporate giving efforts in the same way. It’s important that you provide your teams with the information they need to get involved. And luckily, strategically crafted workplace giving guidelines effectively communicated to employees can play a massive role in boosting employee participation in these programs.

As you draft your program guidelines, we recommend that you answer the following questions:
  1. What workplace giving programs are being offered?
  2. What types of organizations are eligible to receive funding?
  3. What types of employees are eligible to participate?
  4. What are the donation eligibility criteria and match ratio?
  5. When must a workplace giving request be submitted?
  6. Where can employees find additional information?

In this guide, we’ll walk through our suggested workplace giving guideline content as well as how to answer each question in a way that provides employees with the maximum amount of information needed.

Ready to get started? Let’s dive in!

1. What workplace giving programs are being offered?

There are many types of corporate social responsibilities that a business may choose to pursue in regards to the greater good. Even within the narrower “workplace giving” umbrella, there are tons of programs you might decide to include in your CSR initiatives. These include:

  • Matching gifts: Employers financially match charitable donations made by their employees to qualifying nonprofit causes.
  • Volunteer grants: Employers provide nonprofits where their employees regularly volunteer with predetermined sums of money in response to volunteer hours worked.
  • Impact Dollars: Employers distribute lump sums of corporate dollars to each employee, who are then able to allocate the funding to their favorite charities.
  • Payroll deductions: Employers allow their staff to automatically deduct a certain amount of each paycheck to allocate towards pre-approved nonprofit causes.
  • Annual campaigns: Employers partner with a nonprofit organization to host a fundraising campaign, encouraging employees to give to a charitable cause at a particular time of the year. 

We recommend that you incorporate multiple of the above program types into your overall workplace giving strategy⁠—and whichever ones you do choose to implement, be sure to communicate their existence to your employees. You can’t expect your staff to participate if they’re never informed of the programs being offered in the first place!

2. What types of organizations are eligible to receive funding?

Even within a single of the above-mentioned categories, not all workplace giving programs are created equally. Each company also gets to decide which types of nonprofits and causes they’ll support through their CSR initiatives.

Here are a few typical qualifying organization criteria based on mission type:

  • All 501(c)(3) nonprofits: Companies that contribute to all 501(c)(3) nonprofits have the widest range of eligible workplace giving recipients⁠—the only criteria to meet being registered as an official nonprofit organization with the IRS. 
  • A narrow group of missions: Other companies choose a more specific category (or categories) of nonprofit missions to which they will give. For example, a company whose mission statement reflects a need to protect nature and wildlife might focus its CSR efforts on giving to environmentally-focused organizations.
  • Common exceptions: Still, some corporations decide they’ll give to all nonprofit causes except those in certain categories⁠—the most common exclusion being to churches and other houses of worship.

Furthermore, other frequent stipulations require the receiving organizations to be registered with and approved by a company’s CSR software platform. Have further questions here? Reach out and our team at Selflessly can help!

Regardless of the criteria in place for eligible nonprofits, the idea behind the selection process is that available organizations should be legitimate charities.  You can align these with your own companies’ mission and values.

3. What types of employees are eligible to participate?

As you draft your workplace giving policy, one of the most essential pieces requires determining the types of employees who are eligible to participate in your giving programs. Most companies choose one or more of the following categories:

  • Full-time employees
  • Part-time employees
  • Contract employees
  • Retired employees
  • Spouses of employees

Nearly every participating company will offer workplace giving benefits to full-time employees. However, part-time workers, retirees, and employee spouses are less common.

Just remember, the more categories of eligible participants you open your programs up to, the higher level of employee participation you can expect! Within the Selflessly software, you have the ability to choose various amounts for each employee based on your criteria.  

4. What are the donation eligibility criteria and match ratio?

Beyond the nonprofit and employee eligibility, workplace giving participants must also ensure their donation itself qualifies for their employer’s giving program.

When it comes to matching gifts, these criteria are most essential to an employee looking to determine whether their donation is match-eligible and what size gift they can secure on behalf of the organization they support (and therefore, are most essential for a business to include in their program guidelines):

  • Minimum donation size: Employee gifts must be higher than this predetermined number in order to qualify for a company match. And the minimum amount tends to be pretty low⁠; CSR research shows that 93% of companies offer a minimum donation size of less than or equal to $50, with the average bottom threshold landing at $34.
  • Maximum donation size: Inversely, employee donations should be below their company’s maximum gift size if they’d like to get their contribution matched. The same studies report that more than 80% of company maximums fall between $500 and $10,000 (average at $3,728).
  • Match ratio: Once employee donors recognize their gifts as match-eligible, the match ratio determines how much their employee match will be worth. The most common ratio is dollar for dollar (with 91% of companies opting for this route). 4% match at a lower rate and 5% at a higher one. Some businesses’ match ratio may even fluctuate depending on the season in which the gift was made. For example, we mentioned how Glick Co. reported a typical 1:1 matching gift rate throughout the year, with the ratio jumping to 2:1 in December and 3:1 on Giving Tuesday!

On the other hand, there should be similar guidelines in place to determine your employees’ volunteer grant and other workplace giving eligibility and grant size. Rather than a minimum donation size, volunteer grant recipients must meet a minimum threshold of volunteer hours worked with an organization to qualify for a company grant. 

You should also provide employees with information regarding the grant amounts they’ll be able to secure for their favorite organizations. 80% of companies offer between $8 and $15 per volunteer hour. Communicating your chosen rate is a great way to motivate employees to get involved as volunteers with charitable organizations in your community.

5. When must a workplace giving request be submitted?

Next, there’s also the matter of determining and communicating the deadline by which a workplace giving request must be submitted to qualify for a corporate grant. And again, these criteria vary from company to company.

Many businesses choose from one of the following deadline structures:

  • Calendar year (i.e., December 31st)
  • Calendar year with extension (e.g., January 31st of the following year after an employee makes a donation)
  • Fiscal year (by the last business day of the company’s financial reporting period)
  • Number of months after the donation is made (e.g., six months following the date of the donation)

No matter which deadline format your business chooses, the most important part is ensuring employees are aware. Then they can plan and request their corporate contributions accordingly.

6. Where can employees find additional information?

Providing employees with optimal workplace giving guidelines (including answers to all of the questions above) should drastically reduce the number of inquiries your staff will have regarding these programs. However, even the most detailed guidelines can spark additional questions or points of confusion⁠. Especially if you’re rolling out these programs for the first time.

Make sure you’re prepared for this by incorporating within your workplace giving guidelines instructions on how employees can locate the supplemental information they’re seeking. This might include a contact person (likely an People & Culture or HR Rep) to reach out to, an internal or external web page with additional guidelines, as well as a detailed explainer in your company policy handbook and/or onboarding paperwork.

The most successful workplace giving programs⁠—whether that be employee matching gifts, individual dollars for doers, teamwide volunteer grants, or something else entirely⁠—readily provide staff participants with the information they need to get started. Remember, not only should your program guidelines be entirely comprehensive, but they should also be easily accessible to each and every employee.

If you have further questions, feel free to reach out anytime — [email protected]

Good luck!

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