How to Set Up an Employee Giving Program

Do any of your employees show interest in charitable giving?

Whether they do or not, we'll bet they want to. You (the employer) lead by example, which means giving your employees the resources to make a social impact.

Employee giving programs help your workforce feel proud of what they work for. Here's everything you need to know about setting one up.

What is employee giving, exactly?

Employee giving—also called workplace giving or corporate philanthropy—is an employer-sponsored program or campaign that allows employees to make charitable contributions directly from their paychecks (or another payment method). Automatic payroll deductions are especially common because they make setting up regular tax-deductible donations easy.

Your employee giving program could be as simple or complex as you’d like. They range from matching gift contributions and annual corporate initiatives to volunteer grants, disaster relief, and cause-related marketing.

Some employers choose to sponsor charitable giving annually or periodically throughout the year. Others establish year-round programs employees can opt into.

Interested in setting up a charitable giving stipend? Click here to learn more.

Why is workplace giving important?

Whether you want to offer continuous support for a cause, make a one-time donation, or help employees become philanthropists, workplace giving is incredibly valuable for you and your employees.

It gets your employees excited.

Employee engagement. The backbone of your company culture and the reason your best people show up at all.

Globally, about 20% of employees are engaged at work (hence statistically high turnover rates). Engaged employees produce better work and become brand ambassadors for your business. Then, you outperform your competitors by 2.5x.

According to 2021 research from Gallup, employees of companies that make a social impact on their communities are twice as likely to be engaged at work, 5.6 times likelier to trust their leadership, and have a 360% better chance of recommending your company to their peers.

Giving your employees a greater sense of purpose through a workplace giving program makes them more passionate and productive.

You 100% need one for CSR.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, employees put an extremely high (77%) level of trust in their employers to do what's right. And six in ten Americans say staying silent on social issues is "unacceptable" for companies.

Your company's corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy is more than just a nice PR move—it's evidence you care about the world your employees inhabit, and are trying to make a difference in it.

Letting them donate to their favorite charity makes them feel like a part of that change, and it's one of the easiest ways to demonstrate you're living up to your company's values.

There's strength in numbers.

Since companies are judged on contributions from a CSR standpoint and employees care about it a ton, you have to do something.

Workplace giving campaigns make it easy for that something to have a massive impact. Take Apple, for example.


Since 2011, Apple's employee giving program has grown into a multifaceted global program that includes the basics like matching gifts and volunteer grants. But it also offers training, events, and local programs with nonprofit partners worldwide.

Instead of a few one-off payments that "tick the box" for CSR, Apple as a company has contributed $725 million, logged nearly 2 million volunteer hours, and supported roughly 39,000 nonprofits globally.

It's tax-deductible.

Employee donations (and employer matches) are tax deductible. That means you can both save money on your taxes while supporting a just cause.

Plus, employee giving programs are sometimes associated with tax credits or deductions for employers who contribute financially or in-kind services (including volunteer work) to charity, which is another way to save money and make a difference at the same time!

Your company will have higher investment potential.

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said it best: "Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose."

According to CECP's Investing in Society study, brands perceived to have a high positive impact showed a growth in brand value of 175%, while those with low positive impact had a growth of only 70%.

Based on both investor opinions and statistical facts, companies that achieve higher employee engagement through workplace giving programs are significantly more investable.

Types of Workplace Giving

According to America's Charities, there are three types of workplace giving:

  • Private sector campaigns: Annual, periodic, or year-round campaigns that invite tax-deductible donations from employees.
  • Combined Federal Campaign (CFC): The world’s largest and most successful annual workplace giving campaign, designed to help federal workers support nonprofit organizations.
  • State and local public sector campaigns: Programs that offer employees the opportunity to donate to nonprofits in their community.

Private companies may also choose to sponsor a special cause or event, such as sponsoring a charity walkathon.

Launching Your Employee Giving Campaign While Ensuring Companywide Engagement

No matter what, you need buy-in from your employees. Otherwise, nobody in the company will offer their support.

To ensure employee participation and the success of your new program, follow these steps:

1. Get funding.

Before doing anything, you need to decide how much you can spend on the program and if there are external organizations you'd like to partner with.

With other company leaders, your exec team, and the board, consider your company's values and how much you can reasonably allocate.

Here, getting everyone involved is paramount (employees will notice if your top leaders don't participate).

Communicate with leadership team members as early and often as possible and learn what kinds of volunteering and donation projects they might be personally passionate about.

2. Get initial employee buy-in.

Once you have things squared away with management, find the first employees who will join your cause.

Find one or two people from each department who are passionate about volunteering, donations, and community impact. Have them act as advocates for the program and include them in the planning and ground-level communication.

3. Plan your program.

After assembling a small committee, you can move forward with the planning. For their relative ease of implementation, the most popular employee giving programs revolve around matching donations automatically deducted from payroll.

But your employee giving campaign doesn't have to revolve around money. Here are a few ideas for alternative activities:

  • Company-sponsored volunteering days or tournaments
  • Upcycling projects that benefit local organizations
  • Gift card donation drives for the less fortunate
  • Clothing/food/toy drives
  • A silent auction supporting a local nonprofit partner

If you have a remote team, you can send them a remote work stipend they can use for charitable causes, or you could launch a virtual fundraising drive, such as a "Giving Tuesday" campaign to foster friendly competition toward a donation goal.

Pro tip: Maximize employee engagement by creating a signature workplace giving campaign, such as a "Dress Down" day where employees pay a few dollars to dress casually for one day.


Sprout Social took this a step further by organizing Philanthropy Week—teams chose organizations within their communities they aligned with, then teamed up during the week to volunteer and raise funds for their respective causes.

4. Launch it across your organization.

Believe it or not, this step is more strategic than you think.

When employees feel like there is a reason for workplace giving, they're more likely to get into the spirit. It helps to plan your launch around the same time as another notable milestone, such as:

  • A big holiday (e.g., Christmas, Thanksgiving, Ramadan)
  • A special company-wide event (e.g., a leadership summit)
  • End of the fiscal year or end of a quarter
  • The beginning of a new season, like spring or fall

When you've decided on the right time to launch, start with internal communications, like emails and newsletters. Tap into your employee ambassadors to spread the word on social media.

Then, directly communicate with employees who don't use digital platforms often (like those in manufacturing or operations).

5. Track your program's success.

Pay close attention to the metrics that illustrate your program's success. You can track progress in terms of money raised, volunteers recruited, and overall impact.

Metrics to follow include:

  • Employee participation percentage
  • The number of donations employees and leaders make
  • Average amount donated per person
  • Number of volunteer hours provided

You'll want to track these metrics for two reasons: investors and stakeholders can use the data to gauge the success of your giving program, and you can use it to inform future campaigns.

Set up a system that will allow you to easily collect data from donors, volunteers, etc., and report on key metrics with ease.

With Compt, employee giving has no barriers to entry.

We'll be the first to admit it... Managing all this on your own might be hard. Tax compliance, data tracking, administration, employee recognition—the list goes on.

If we were you, we'd use software to put the whole program on autopilot.

With Compt, setting up and managing an employee giving program is easy. You can decide whether to match donations, give one-time employee stipends for charitable causes, or set up recurring donations.

Your employees and prospective new hires want to work for a socially responsible company. With Compt, it's easier than ever to be one.

We can't think of a reason not to set up an employee giving program. Click here to see how Compt can help.

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