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Corporate Philanthropy: The Benefits of Volunteer Grant Programs

VolunteeringBy Adam Weinger Has your company considered instituting a volunteer grant program? These charitable programs, which are also known as Dollars for Doers programs, are offered by companies as a way to encourage and support volunteerism among employees. Volunteer grants are just one of the many types of corporate giving programs, but over the last five years they've become the most prevalent type of corporate volunteer program offered. The concept is straightforward. For each hour an employee volunteers with a nonprofit organization, the company will make a monetary donation to that same nonprofit. To promote ongoing volunteerism, many companies require employees to volunteer a minimum number of hours before a Dollars for Doers grant is issued. Why should a company consider offering a volunteer grant program? Volunteer grant programs provide many benefits to the company offering the program. Like all types of corporate giving, the company:
  • Generates goodwill and positive publicity
  • Attracts and retains top talent
  • Creates tax benefits for the corporation
Additionally, volunteer grant programs offer a set of unique benefits by:
  • Promoting volunteerism in communities near corporate offices
  • Enabling employees to gain recognition within their communities
  • Providing an incentive for employees to track volunteer hours
If you’re a business interested in expanding your corporate giving programs to include a volunteer grant program, check out the business case to be made for increased corporate giving. Which companies offer these programs? A study of corporate employee giving programs shows that 40% of Fortune 500 companies offer volunteer grant programs. If you work for a corporation looking to expand its corporate philanthropy or are involved in nonprofit fundraising, you should take a look at some of the best-in-class employee giving programs. These include: Microsoft - One of the largest corporate donors. The company offers a variety of employee giving programs with highlights that include:
  • Volunteer grants of $17 per hour
  • Over 4,400 employees requesting volunteer grant requests in 20111
  • Over $6 million donated through the company’s volunteer grant program in 2011
IBM - Offers nonprofits the option of cash grants or a larger technology grant. Highlights include:
  • Volunteer grants of up to $3,500 in technology grants or $1000 in cash
  • Employees must volunteer for a minimum of 8 hours a month for five months.
  • Over $10 million donated through the company’s community volunteer grants in 2011
ExxonMobil’s - The company's Volunteer Involvement Program is one of the oldest. It was initiated in 1996 and offers:
  • $500 grants for every 20 hours volunteered
  • Up to $2,000 in volunteer grants annually for each employee
Want to learn more? If you want to further pursue starting up a new employee giving program, there’s a great case study on Land O’Lakes Corporate Volunteer Program. You can also check out the resources for companies interested in creating volunteer grant programs. If you’re a nonprofit, learn more about some of the largest employers who offer volunteer grant programs. Does your company already offer a volunteer grant program? Tell us about the strategies your company has implemented to promote the program? --- [Image credit: cityyear: Flickr Creative Commons] Adam Weinger is the founder of Double the Donation, a company focused on helping nonprofits increase the amount of money they raise from corporate employee matching gift and volunteer grant programs. Follow Double the Donation on Twitter  
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