A Guide to Corporate Giving Programs

Stéphanie Grawehr November 15, 2021

What is a corporate giving program?

A corporate giving program is an initiative where companies give their time, money, or resources to a charity, foundation, or NGO. Corporate giving programs started when company owners decided to take on more corporate social responsibility initiatives and give back to their communities. 

Alongside volunteering programs and other CSR initiatives, companies started with corporate grants for good causes. These grants were centrally decided and delivered on a quarterly or yearly basis. 

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What are the different types of giving programs?

A corporate giving program usually entails at least one or two of the following setups. The type of giving program a company uses will often depend on the workforce, the company culture and objectives, the cause, and the company’s overall CSR structure.

1. Gifting or in-kind donations

First on our list for different types of giving programs is gifting. Gifting is usually referred to when a company doesn’t give cash, but they give other things that a nonprofit may need. 

For example, this could be clothing, technology, food, medical supplies, or something else. 

The Covid-19 pandemic brought this type of giving to the forefront, with companies showing their solidarity to help struggling communities. For example, Lombard Odier partnered with peers to provide 33,000 free meals for hospital staff, and Firmenich donated 100 tons of hand sanitizer for the USA and Switzerland. 

These are just a few of the fantastic cases emerging to help our global community get on its feet and can certainly inspire your own gifting or in-kind donations. Other examples of gifting come in the form of goods collections, where employees donate previously loved goods or purchase new ones dedicated for a donation to a nonprofit such as a food drive, or school supplies.


2. Employee grants & donation matching

Employee grants include ways that companies can reward and support employees and their favourite cause, multiplying the support provided to the cause.

Employee donation matching 

Employee matching programs are when a company matches the cash donations of employees. This means that if an employee raises $100, the company will match their donation with $100 of company funds. 

Employee matching programs usually have a company limit. For example, the company will match up to $100 per employee, or if the company has 7,000 employees, the company will match up to $10,000 worth of total employee efforts. 

There are different types of employee donation matching as well. For example, 1:1 matching means the company will match the exact amount of dollars raised by the employee. Or, 2:1 matching means the company doubles the donation!

These details are often listed in the employee matching policy. 1:1 or 2:1 employee donation matching can drastically encourage employee volunteering and donation efforts.

Employee volunteer grants

Employee volunteer grants can be broken down into two types. 

  1. Grants to cover volunteering expenses: for example, an employee can apply for a grant that will financially support the volunteer efforts they wish to participate in. For example, the company will cover the costs of the volunteer’s travel, on-site meals, and general costs incurred to make volunteering an option. 
  1. Dollars for Doers: employees receive a financial grant for the number of hours they volunteer for a chosen cause. They can then put this financial grant into their cause. 

This is a great option for volunteers who cannot financially support their chosen organisation but have the time to do so and still wish to earn money—and better support the organisation.

Employee grants help reward and praise your internal volunteer champions. Employees that have shown a great effort to support your overall initiative or those that have met certain criteria throughout the quarter or financial year can receive cash lump-sum grants to go toward their cause. 

Read more on how to start a corporate volunteering policy here. 

Team volunteer grants

This type of grant is great for team building! Companies can form cross-department teams or pit departments against each other in a friendly challenge to see who can make the most impact with their volunteering hours. The ‘winning’ team is awarded a cash grant to help their cause.

3. Corporate grants

Corporate grants

There are a few different types of grants that a company can choose to award. Most grants usually rely on an application for the grant from the receiver—generally, an NPO or other social purpose organisation. They can also be decided by leadership—or a corporate giving internal committee—and awarded to those that meet certain criteria.

Community grants

Community grants usually refer to a cash donation that supports the local community of a business. These types of grants are usually applied for by local nonprofits, or even small businesses. Community grants are the company’s efforts at lifting local communities and their people. 


Although these types of grants are traditionally only given by companies with a physical office or presence somewhere, this is beginning to change given the number of companies that now operate entirely online. 

In this case, companies are working with employees to select vulnerable, or minority communities that resonate with their mission, and therefore both parties wish to support. 

For example, this can be the LGBTQI+ community, domestic violence victims, or children in high-poverty areas.


4. Sponsorships

Sponsorships have been around for a long time, and they still are for a good reason. A company can choose to sponsor an event of a good cause, or nonprofit. In doing so, you’ll often see company branding throughout the event, and the company will usually get some ‘air time’ with the attendees. 

This type of giving program enables the nonprofit to host an event that reaches a wider audience and therefore can be a greater success.

What are the benefits of corporate giving to companies?

There are a lot of benefits of corporate giving for companies. It could probably be an article in itself. However, we’ll try to keep this short!

Employer branding

First and foremost, corporate giving does wonders for employer branding. A survey found that 73% of all adults would not apply to a company unless its values aligned to their own personal values. 

While 53% of workers said a job where they can make an impact is important to them. All companies can make a positive impact with their corporate giving program. That’s where you’ll be able to better attract and recruit top talent. 

Company culture, employee retention & engagement

There are many workplace benefits your corporate giving program can bring. Corporate giving and employee giving programs can help to retain employees, engage employees, and build a more positive workplace culture. Purpose-driven employees show 5x higher levels of wellbeing and 4x higher levels of engagement in the workplace. 

Brand recognition & trust


Customers want brands they can relate to, recognise, and trust. 81% of millennials want companies to be good corporate citizens. A study found that consumer buying decisions are 60% based on the image of the company and 40% based on the product itself. 

The same study found that 42% of a company image/opinion stems from its CSR initiatives. Corporate giving programs are core pillars to your CSR initiative, and therefore your branding efforts. 

Investment opportunities

“The more your company can show its purpose in delivering value to its customers, its employees, and its communities, the better able you will be to compete and deliver long-term, durable profits for shareholders.”

Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO, Blackrock.

We know that customers are looking for ethical brands, but in recent years, investors are looking for the same. Larry Fink’s annual letter to CEOs in 2021 boasted a 96% increase in sustainable investing since 2019.

“Essential to this transition has been the growing availability and affordability of sustainable investment options. Not long ago, building a climate-aware portfolio was a painstaking process, available only to the largest investors. But the creation of sustainable index investments has enabled a massive acceleration of capital towards companies better prepared to address climate risk.”

Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO, Blackrock.

Positive impact 

Positive impact is a huge benefit to any corporate giving program. Whether your business can participate on a small or massive scale, any contribution you can make toward bettering the planet will be greatly received for generations to come. 

Countries and leading CEOs in some of the world’s biggest businesses are committing to positive impact. Net-zero emissions are a great example of these efforts. 127 governments worldwide (accounting for 60% of global emissions) are considering or have already committed to net-zero emissions. 

As Larry Fink said himself, “momentum continues to build”, and your business can be a part of that. 


Corporate giving efforts are tax-deductible, both for employees and corporates. This means that if you hold on to the receipts for any expenses you’ve consumed throughout the year, during corporate giving initiatives, you’ll be able to claim back some of your spend in some countries.

What are the benefits of corporate giving to employees?

Let’s build on some of the benefits of corporate giving for employees covered in the previous section. Many benefits to employees also benefit the company, as companies want happy people working with them. However, there’s even more out there. 

A sense of purpose

70% of employees say their sense of purpose is defined by their work. Companies have the power to give employees a greater purpose, making happier and more fulfilled people.


Employee engagement

From purpose stems engagement, happiness with the company, and even willingness to advocate for the company. We already know that purpose-driven employees make for 4x more engaged employees, but there’s more: 


Helping projects people are passionate about

It may seem obvious, but it’s well worth noting. Companies can give employees opportunities to give back in ways they were never able to do so independently. A corporate giving program enables employees to make a larger impact on the causes they’re really passionate about.  


Employee development is a massive benefit to a corporate giving program. In organising grants, raising money, and organising or participating in volunteering initiatives, employees can develop new soft and hard skills to prosper in their personal and professional lives.  

Team building

Whether it’s cross-team/cross-department collaborations or bringing closer teams that work together daily, corporate giving initiatives provide employees with new ways to bond and connect. In turn, this develops their loyalty and sense of belonging to the workplace. 

PwC did exactly this by uniting their employees to share skills for good. 


What are the benefits of corporate giving to nonprofits and society?

Lastly, the benefits to nonprofits and society. There are quite a few benefits for those on the receiving end of corporate giving programs; let’s explore a few.

Funding for their projects

It can be hard to raise funds for nonprofits. Finding the time and internal resources to do so can be de-prioritised when you have more pressing issues at hand—like working to help beneficiaries. Corporate giving programs can give these organisations the much-needed cash injection they need. 

Larger exposure

Introducing a nonprofit to an entire workforce or workplace event can drastically boost the nonprofit’s exposure—outside of the company initiatives. With this visibility and a first experience supporting a nonprofit, employees tend to continue to volunteer, raise funds, and work with nonprofits beyond what the company initially sets up. 

Greater opportunity to meet the mission 

No matter what’s provided to a nonprofit, all of these things help them to meet their mission. Perhaps they’ll even help to expand their mission, set higher goals and achieve more! 

What are the costs to companies?

There are, of course, a few costs involved when setting up a corporate giving program. Remember that certain costs can be tax-deductible, so keep that in mind when looking at yearly spend. 

  1. Fund matching

First up, matching funds are the most obvious expense. No matter the size of your corporation, you may want to put a  cap on your matching program. This can help manage your budget and employee expectations. 

  1. Employee resources

Secondly, your company needs to be prepared to dedicate resources to this. Whether that’s the HR resources time, or maybe you have a CSR team at hand to take corporate giving on. It will take internal organisation time if you want to do it right. 

You’ll also need to consider your employee’s time—if you’re running a Dollars for Doers program, then volunteer time off should be accounted for. 

  1. Technology 

Lastly, spending on the right technology to support your efforts is key. To give your corporate giving program the best chance of success, and cut down on employee resource time, technology needs to be in the mix. 

Your corporate giving software provider can also help connect you with nonprofits, facilitate events, and track the impact of your corporate giving program—helping you build reports to showcase what you have achieved.

Corporate giving and volunteering software, like Alaya, can help you with reporting.

Examples of corporate giving programs

There are lots of corporate giving program examples out there that we love. Here are a few to help inspire your own corporate giving programs:

1. ADM employee matching & Dollars for Doers program

ADM uses a 1:1 employee matching initiative to enable their corporate giving. The ADM Cares program raised $2.9 million for education in 2019, $1.8 million for hunger relief, and the colleague matching program raised $761,000!

2. Firmenich employee matching Program

Firmenich are doing some incredible things with their ESG ambitions. To help them achieve their global giving goals, Firmenich set up a 1:1 employee matching program for donations toward Partage. The fragrance firm aims to match any employee donation. 

3. Walmart: Dollars for Doers

Walmart donates $250 for every 25 hours of employee volunteering, or $500 if employees volunteer for 50 hours. This came as a huge initiative as the company pledged a $1 million match challenge for an El Paso Giving campaign.


Wrapping it up

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the concept and the world of benefits it can bring. 

Figure out a corporate giving framework that fits with your culture, CSR mission and larger company mission. Once you’ve got that locked down, win buy-in by showcasing benefits and reporting on key metrics. Next, work with leadership to make data-driven decisions on how you can improve your corporate giving impact. 

Corporate Giving FAQs

What are the 5 different types of corporate giving programs?

The different types of corporate giving programs are: Gifting or in-kind donations, Employee grants & donation matching, Corporate grants, and Sponsorships.

What are the costs of corporate giving to companies?

The costs involved when setting up a corporate giving program include fund matching, employee resources, and technology.

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