This post was created in partnership with Double the Donation, a matching gifts platform.
Many companies are looking to revamp their CSR strategies as CSR becomes more and more important to consumers and employees alike. As a business owner or manager, these types of social efforts should surely be on your mind—but you might not know how to get started or how to scale up your efforts effectively.
That’s why we’ve put together this quick resource to help guide you through the basics of corporate social responsibility, matching gifts, and more. Plus, we’ll cover a few best practices that can assist your team in growing your CSR impact through corporate philanthropy. Let’s dive in!
What is CSR?
CSR, or corporate social responsibility, is an overarching concept that can incorporate a number of different initiatives. For example, a business might support nonprofit causes through corporate philanthropy, establish fair wages, and implement environmentally-friendly business practices. According to Double the Donation, corporate social responsibility “is a term used to describe a company’s efforts to improve society in some way.”
But it’s not just the greater community that reaps the benefits of corporate social efforts. As companies invest in increasing CSR, they receive key advantages such as the following:
- Increased employee engagement. Employees want to work for companies that are doing good in the world. When you boost your business’s CSR, you show your team members that they work for a morally driven company, which tends to result in increased levels of engagement and retention among staff.
- Improved reputation among consumers. Similarly, many consumers prefer to support companies that prioritize healthy and ethical business practices. By practicing CSR effectively, you can increase brand loyalty with existing customers and attract new ones with a positive company reputation.
Experts report that in order to have an effective social impact strategy, your efforts should be authentic and distinguishable while reflecting and aligning with the goals of your community. When it comes to running your business, your community is largely comprised of employees and consumers, so it’s important to keep these key stakeholders’ wants and needs in mind as you expand your CSR.
What are matching gifts?
One of the most impactful forms of CSR falls within the corporate philanthropy umbrella: matching gifts. Corporate matching gift programs are popular types of workplace giving in which companies agree to match donations made by their employees to eligible nonprofits.
Although the exact process differs based on the company, most matching gift programs follow these simple steps:
- An employee makes a donation to a registered nonprofit organization.
- The employee completes a match request form which is submitted to their employer to review.
- The company verifies the initial donation with the nonprofit.
- The company completes its own matching gift.
According to these corporate giving statistics, $2 to $3 billion is donated annually through corporate matching gift programs—yet an additional $7 billion is left on the table. If a significant portion of your company’s matching gift dollars is going unclaimed, this might be a fantastic opportunity to increase your efforts.
How can my company use matching gifts to boost CSR?
Now you understand what matching gifts are and how the process typically works—but how can you use this form of corporate giving strategy to benefit your own business? If you’re looking to improve your company’s CSR programs through matching gifts, be sure to consider the following best practices:
1. Emulate positive examples of corporate giving.
If you’re not sure where to start with a CSR program or are looking to improve an existing program, we suggest looking at successful examples that other businesses are doing. This can give you a better sense of impactful social responsibility efforts and allow you to pick out elements that you’d like to emulate in your own program.
For example, if you’re launching a matching gift program for the first time, take a look at some other well-known companies with particularly noteworthy giving programs. You can even get a feel for average matching gift guidelines such as donation minimums and maximums (often between $25 and $5,000), match ratios (typically 1:1, though some companies match higher at 2:1 or even 3:1), and deadlines (such as one year from the date of the donation or by the end of the fiscal year).
2. Promote matching gift opportunities to employees.
Even if you already have a matching gift program, it’s important to make the effort to promote the opportunity to your employees. According to Double the Donation statistics, “78% of match-eligible donors don’t know their company offers a matching gift program, and only 7% of donors at companies with matching gift programs actually submit a request.”
If your employees aren’t participating in your gift matching program due to a lack of awareness, there’s essentially no point in having the program to begin with. So how can you get the word out to employees effectively? Consider the following strategies:
- Include information about matching gifts and other workplace giving programs during employee onboarding.
- Send out company-wide emails to let team members know about any new or updated giving programs offered.
- Encourage employees to leverage matching gifts in regular communications throughout the year.
Remember, employees love matching gift programs because these types of initiatives allow them to make a larger impact on the nonprofit missions that they’re passionate about—not to mention they tend to feel a stronger connection to the employer who offers these programs. But without taking the time to promote these opportunities to eligible employees, it’s nearly impossible to maximize your efforts.
3. Manage your CSR programs with corporate giving software.
Managing a corporate giving program manually involves juggling a lot of moving pieces. Luckily, the right CSR software can make managing your matching gift program easier than ever. If you’re thinking about investing in a software solution to streamline your matching gift process, consider the following key benefits:
- Tracking all of your data in one place
- Viewing and approving match requests quickly
- Simplifying the request process for employees
If the match request process is long and unnecessarily complicated, fewer employees are likely to participate. If you lack a system in place to manage your requests, it’s highly likely that a portion will fall through the cracks.
Without the right tools, you risk running an inefficient matching gift program that has a less-than-maximum impact on your overall CSR initiatives. If you’re going to spend the time developing an employee giving program, you want to ensure it’ll make the largest impact possible.
4. Track metrics and make improvements.
Collecting data on your CSR programs is important for measuring your social impact. Here are a few matching gift-related KPIs to consider:
- Number of employee gifts matched
- Total dollar amounts donated through gift-matching programs
- Average donation size matched by your company
Once you have this information, it’s a good idea to track your progress over time. If you see that your program is being underutilized, consider revamping your internal promotion strategies to get the word out and encourage employees to participate.
As thousands of companies are looking to expand their corporate social responsibility, staying ahead with well-thought-out programming and the right tools and strategies is critical. Luckily, launching or expanding your matching gifts efforts can be an excellent way to go.
Not only do you get to support nonprofits in their quest to make the world a better place, you also build stronger relationships with your employees who feel as if their values are taken into account. And don’t forget the business value you receive through increased staff retention and improved consumer relations. Good luck, and happy matching!