By Adam Weinger
Some companies just get it. They understand that nonprofits are out there fighting to make the world a better place, so they institute corporate giving programs that provide more funds, in more ways, to more organizations.
Two popular ways that companies donate to nonprofits are:
- Matching gift programs – Corporations match employee donations to eligible nonprofits, thus doubling or tripling donations.
- Volunteer grant programs – Businesses award money to nonprofits in exchange for employee efforts at those nonprofits.
Like Tom Brady with a football, some companies make corporate giving look easy, and they accomplish great feats as if doing so is simply in their nature. Below are five companies that deserve an MVP trophy for corporate philanthropy.
CEO Tim Cook became Apple’s head honcho in April 2011 and almost immediately instituted a program to match employee donations. In the time since, Apple has matched over $25 million worth of employee donations, resulting in more than $50 million for charities around the world.
In October 2014, Apple informed employees that it will expand its corporate giving program to include all countries in which it has a presence, which extends the program from U.S.-based nonprofits and a handful of organizations in other nations. Apple also announced that its volunteer grant program will give employees $25 per hour for their respective organizations.
Silicon Valley companies have been criticized for a lack of corporate philanthropy, although companies may just differ in how they donate. While Tim Cook is adamant about employees dictating where Apple donates, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg separates his business from his philanthropy. He and his wife gave $120 million to help local schools in 2014, which demonstrates his propensity to acquire wealth and share it personally rather than to donate through corporate giving.
Apple will match employee donations up to $10,000 per year, and most 501(c)(3) organizations or equivalent organizations are eligible to receive matching gifts.
Normal companies don’t offer diverse giving options, but Google is not a normal company. With offices in 70 cities and more than 40 countries, Google’s philanthropy has a deep global reach from New York, to the U.K., to Germany and more.
Google could not give as much as it does without enthusiastic, benevolent employees. Last year, more than 6,500 Google employees volunteered nearly 80,000 hours of service. In total, Google has matched $21 million in employee donations to over 9,000 organizations worldwide.
Google’s community programs include:
- Bay Area Giving: Proud to support local nonprofits that strengthen the community, Google has given over $60 million to Bay Area nonprofits over the past three years.
- Code for America: In an effort to provide better technological support for governments that are slow to embrace technology, Google provides Code for America with an annual gift of $3 million to develop civic technological solutions.
- Roberta: Google believes that robots are a fun, effective way to teach children foundational technological concepts, so they funded Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems to help them develop technology to program and control robots using a smartphone app.
- Programming Education Gathering: Google donated more than 5,000 Raspberry Pi computers in order to provide a computer science education to more than 25,000 Japanese children.
- Raspberry Pi: A $1 million Google grant will give Raspberry Pi computers — inexpensive microcomputers about the size of a credit card — to 15,000 U.K. children who show exceptional enthusiasm for computer science.
In 1983, 200 Microsoft employees raised $17,000 for nonprofits through the company’s first employee giving program. Thanks to matching gifts, Microsoft employees have since donated over $1 billion to charitable organizations. That’s a lot of computers.
But maybe it’s not a lot of computers, because Microsoft saves nonprofits from having to spend too much on technology through product donations. In 2014, over 86,000 organizations in more than 125 countries received technology donations. The gifts ranged from computers to software to refurbished hardware in an effort to affordably bring nonprofits into the 21st century.
Microsoft also offers a volunteer match program, which began in 2005. Nonprofits receive $25 per hour when Microsoft employees volunteer for at least four hours.
For regular matching gifts, Microsoft employees may submit matching gift requests for donations up to $15,000 per year, which is one reason Microsoft is consistently included in the listing of top matching gift programs.
Pepsi is a food and beverage powerhouse, which is why its philanthropy prioritizes related causes, including:
- Healthy lifestyles
- Affordable nutrition
- Access to clean water
- Sustainable agriculture
- Job readiness
- Empowering women
Pepsi offers to match gifts up to $10,000 per year per employer, and it matches at a 2:1 ratio if the employee volunteers more than 50 hours with a single organization. Otherwise, Pepsi matches 1:1.
Pepsi employees strive to improve communities through a number of programs including:
- PepsiCorps: This skill-based volunteer program places Pepsi employees in communities from Ghana, to India, to New Mexico, to aid with projects that relate to Pepsi’s corporate giving initiatives.
- Mother Water Cellar Project in Greater China Region: Pepsi volunteers helped to construct a water purification tower for the benefit of over 700 students and teachers at a school in southwest China.
- Food for Good: Started by employees in 2009, Food for Good has served over 1.6 million free, nutritious meals to inner-city children.
Pepsi also prides itself on strategic grants, through which it donates about $25 million per year. The company loves to support water sanitation efforts, and tends to give large gifts to organizations that are established enough to deliver potable water to millions of people.
Like Pepsi, Shell also supports the community in a big way.
Through a long-standing philanthropic relationship, Shell has donated more than $24.8 million dollars to the University of Texas at Austin. In 2012, Shell and UT signed a five-year, $7.5 million deal to address challenges facing the growing worldwide oil and gas industry. Most of the money will go to research, but nearly half a million dollars will support UT students and programs.
To empower employees, Shell offers a matching gift program. The company matches employee donations between $25 and $5,500 at a 1:1 ratio.
Matching gifts have helped Shell to pursue several philanthropic goals. As of the end of 2014, Shell donations have helped to create more than 35,000 jobs, saved 6.2 million metric tons of CO2, and raised $5 billion for organizations in four continents.
In 2013, more than $335 billion worth of charitable donations were given to nonprofits, and 15 percent of that came from company foundations. Giving by foundations also increased by 5.7 percent from the previous year. When it comes to charitable giving, corporations matter, and the funds they give are a significant portion of the giving pie. Whether it’s through matching gifts, volunteer grants or related charitable initiatives, it’s good to see that some of the world’s largest companies believe in philanthropy and lead by example.
The five above companies are some of the most successful companies in the world. And charitable giving as a core value benefits their bottom line in more ways than just community appreciation.
We hope that employees and companies continue to give back to nonprofits to not only better their local communities, but also improve their business results.
Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of matching gift tools and services to nonprofits. You can connect with Double the Donation on Twitter, LinkedIn, or personally contact Adam.