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12/2/2016 12:00 AM

Experts say donor education and streamlined processes could greatly increase the use of corporate matching gift programs.

Companies have long offered corporate matches of employee donations to charity as a means of encouraging their workers to support organizations of interest to them. These days, such programs have taken on additional weight, as their value as employee engagement tools has become better understood. Yet, research shows that up to $10 billion in corporate matching gift funds goes unused each year, in large part because employees either don’t know about the matching programs or won’t brave the often onerous process for claiming the match.

Corporate Philanthropy Report recently spoke with Bryan de Lottinville, founder and CEO of Benevity Inc., a leading employee giving and volunteering software firm, about the root causes of this issue and what nonprofits and their corporate partners can do to resolve it.

Q: According to your research, a sizeable portion of employee donations take place outside of company giving programs, which effectively leaves corporate matches unused. Why?

A: There are several reasons for the relatively low level of employee take-up of corporate giving and matching programs, depending upon the context. The primary reasons are lack of awareness and the administrative burden of traditional programs. In the time-constrained and media-rich world in which modern employees find themselves, convenience, ease of access and timeliness are important, and many employee matching programs involve onerous formalities and manual processes. This challenge applies to companies’ program administrators as well, who typically have to manage clunky manual procedures or dated software and don’t have the time, support or tools to properly promote or easily execute their company’s giving or volunteering programs.

The typical approach taken by most programs that are not using modern software looks like this: the employee donates to a charity of his or her choice, either by way of a check in the mail to the charity or perhaps on the charity’s website. Assuming they are aware of the matching program, they separately submit a “match request” in accordance with the company’s program requirements; it is submitted by the employee and goes into some kind of approval queue that is administered by the company or perhaps an external party; in order to approve the match request, there is typically an outreach to the charity to confirm program eligibility and that the donation has been made, which results in administrative expense and perhaps delay on the charity side as well.

Clearly, there is a lot of opportunity to remove friction and cost from this process. An automated system provides convenient tools, workflow, enhanced visibility and support to help donors, program administrators and charities execute the process more easily and efficiently.

Q: What are the negative impacts of the traditional, manual system?

A: The clunkiness of this process has negative impacts on all stakeholders in the ecosystem. In some cases, charities have entire teams whose job it is to chase down matching gifts, at significant cost. Others may not even bother, as the vetting, eligibility or approval processes for many corporate programs are perceived as too onerous relative to the funds provided.

One of the most noteworthy developments in the corporate giving or “Goodness Program” space is that the “why” behind these programs is no longer merely about fundraising, but rather represents an opportunity—if not an imperative—for companies to engage their people around social and other causes that may be emotive to them and therefore contribute to their sense of value, meaning and purpose as part of the employer brand. This is particularly true when it comes to recruiting and retaining millennials. The value to a company’s culture of having a robust and highly participative employee giving and volunteering program is increasingly seen to be delivering business impact as well as social value, which means everything that detracts from broad take-up has opportunity and other cost.

Finally, there are problems at the donor level beyond missing the opportunity to engage them around the company’s matching gift budget. By keeping matching gifts a purely transactional interaction (whether manual or not), we are reducing the likelihood that companies and charities can steward donors along the path of deeper engagement with the causes and charities that may matter to them and society.

Q: What can companies do to encourage greater use of their corporate match programs?

A: Increased visibility and donor education regarding the programs is a good start, but this issue has been prevalent for many years, and if education alone was going to solve it, it would likely have been solved by now. Better enabling technology being embraced by corporations to power their employee and customer-facing programs is a major opportunity to effect real change to both program participation and outcomes, including the level of promotion and donor education required to drive success. A user-centric platform can facilitate and streamline communication of workplace giving programs and opportunities, while taking friction out of the process for all participants. It enables companies to easily present match-eligible organizations, make donations and matching doable in real time without approval workflow, and, most importantly, help build awareness and engagement with their giving programs during the entire employee life cycle, providing tools for sharing impact stories, and tips on getting company leaders to demonstrate the value of their program.

What we’ve seen in our clients is that an efficient, easy-to-use system achieves higher levels of participation—and that means greater employee and donor engagement. And studies show that greater engagement leads to greater loyalty, lower absenteeism and, ultimately, higher productivity.

For more information, visit

11/30/2016 12:00 AM

SDG&E’s philanthropy includes support for military veterans, emergency response and preparedness, education and the environment.


San Diego Gas & Electric is a regulated public utility that provides energy services to 3.6 million people through 1.4 million electric meters and 873,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and South Orange Counties in California. A subsidiary of Sempra Energy, SDG&E owns 22,360 miles of power distribution lines and operates about 170 miles of natural gas transmission pipelines and about 8,460 miles of distribution mains. All told, its service area spans 4,100 square miles. In 2015, the company reported sales of about $4.2 billion and employed about 5,000 workers.


SDG&E’s corporate giving program focuses almost exclusively on ways to improve the quality of life for residents in its service area in Southern California. The company supports a wide variety of nonprofit groups and causes, with general giving categories including:

  • Safety and emergency preparedness. SDG&E supports nonprofit organizations that encourage safety and emergency preparedness at home, at local businesses and in local neighborhoods. Some examples of the company’s giving in this area include:
    • The San Diego/Imperial Counties chapter of the American Red Cross. The San Diego/Imperial Counties chapter of the American Red Cross teaches life-saving skills to more than 3.6 million people across nearly 10,000 square miles in San Diego and Imperial Counties.
    • The Burn Institute. The Burn Institute is dedicated to reducing burn injuries and deaths through fire and burn prevention, education, burn survivor support programs, and the funding of burn care research and treatment. SDG&E partners with the Burn Institute to support the Fire Safe Kids Program, the Senior Smoke Alarm and First Responder Program and a Spanish-language Scald Prevention Campaign to address the disproportionately high incidence of burns within San Diego’s Latino community.
  • Military and veterans. San Diego is home to hundreds of thousands of active-duty men and women and veterans, making this a natural giving area for the company. SDG&E supports nonprofit organizations that help military and veteran families with job training and preparation, food assistance, transitional housing and other programs. And it supports military workforce partnerships and career development programs for returning military veterans.
  • Inspiring future leaders. SDG&E’s Inspiring Future Leaders giving initiative supports nonprofit organizations dedicated to the development of the next generation of leaders in San Diego and South Orange Counties. Some examples include:
    • The Barrio Logan College Institute. The Barrio Logan College Institute’s afterschool program offers tutoring, mentoring and college preparatory counseling to children and their families beginning in the third grade. A full 100 percent of the BLCI’s high school graduates enroll in colleges and universities.
    • The Elementary Institute of Science. This science enrichment program is dedicated to nurturing the intellectual curiosity of San Diego’s youth through hands-on experience that stimulates ongoing appreciation and understanding of science, technology and the environment. SDG&E supports the Institute’s Science is Elementary program for underserved kids in Southeast San Diego.
    • The Union of Pan-Asian Communities. The Union of Pan-Asian Communities is a health and human services organization serving over 35,000 low-to-moderate-income Asian, Pacific Islander, Latino, Middle Eastern, East African, African American and other ethnic populations of San Diego County. SDG&E supports UPAC’s High Risk Youth Mentorship Program that helps youth who are underperforming in school and are at risk of joining gangs or are already involved in gangs.
  • Environmental Champions. The company’s SDG&E’s Environmental Champions initiative supports nonprofits whose programs promote environmental education, community engagement and stewardship to the K–12 populations of underserved communities in San Diego County and South Orange County. Some recent examples include:
    • The San Diego River Park Foundation. The San Diego River Park Foundation works to protect and enhance the San Diego River’s natural and cultural resources and to encourage communities to participate in the creation of a river-long park system. SDG&E supports the foundation’s Cool River program that engages underserved youth in hands-on environmental education on the river to develop an understanding of the connectivity of our local natural resources and how to protect them.
    • Olivewood Gardens & Learning Center. Olivewood Gardens is an interactive, indoor-outdoor classroom that empowers diverse children and adults to be adventurous, healthy and active gardeners and eaters through organic gardening, environmental stewardship and nutrition education. SDG&E supports the Gardens’ hands-on sustainable gardening and cooking education programs that serve many local underserved communities.
  • Supporting the local economy. SDG&E supports the local economy through support for community colleges, chambers of commerce, economic development corporations, workforce development organizations, and other nonprofits that provide technical and other assistance to help micro- to medium-sized businesses create and retain jobs. Some examples include:
    • Accion San Diego. Accion San Diego creates economic opportunity for primarily low-to-moderate-income business owners that lack access to traditional sources of credit. SDG&E supports Accion’s technical assistance program that strengthens the financial organization of emerging entrepreneurs.
    • San Diego LISC. San Diego LISC helps nonprofit community development organizations transform distressed neighborhoods into healthy and sustainable communities. SDG&E supports LISC’s Financial Opportunities Centers, which are neighborhood-based personal financial empowerment centers that offer employment and career services, financial education and coaching, and low-cost financial products to encourage investment and savings.

SDG&E’s employees also give back to their local community by volunteering with worthy charitable groups. The company encourages this volunteerism through its Environmental All Stars program, which coordinates service opportunities in partnership with environmental groups. These activities range from tree planting and removing invasive plant species to installing solar panels on homes in underserved communities and taking part in coastal cleanup projects.

For more information, visit the company’s website.

11/16/2016 12:00 AM

Paul Mitchell’s charitable giving spans several focus areas, ranging from animal welfare to cancer treatment and prevention.


John Paul Mitchell Systems, more commonly known as Paul Mitchell, is a manufacturer of nearly 100 hair care and styling products that line the shelves of more than 100,000 hair salons in about 80 countries worldwide. In addition to the iconic Paul Mitchell brand, the company sells products under the Modern Elixirs, Tea Tree Collection, Paul Mitchell LAB and Paul Mitchell Professional Hair Color monikers. In addition, the company operates more than 100 cosmetology schools training some 14,000 students each year in the arts of hair, skin and nail styling. The company is privately held.


Paul Mitchell’s charitable giving spans several focus areas, ranging from animal welfare to cancer treatment and prevention. Some organizations the company has supported in recent years include:

  • Baby2Baby. Baby2Baby provides low-income children ages 0–12 with diapers, clothing and other basic necessities they need to thrive.
  • Grow Appalachia. In 2010, Paul Mitchell co-founder John Paul DeJoria teamed up with Berea College to establish Grow Appalachia, a nonprofit initiative that helps Appalachian families plant a healthy future. Over the last few years, the organization has produced more than 1.1 million pounds of healthy, organic food for thousands of residents in five states.
  • Bright Pink. Bright Pink is focused on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women. Paul Mitchell supports their mission to educate, equip and empower women of all ages to be proactive with their health.
  • Paul Mitchell Schools Fundraising. The nationwide network of Paul Mitchell Schools joins forces every year to raise funds and awareness for various nonprofit groups. In 2014 alone, cosmetology students from 110 Paul Mitchell Schools raised $2.1 million, bringing its 11-year total to more than $13.3 million.
  • The Prostate Cancer Research Institute. The Prostate Cancer Research Institute is a national nonprofit working to improve the quality of men’s lives through education and research. Paul Mitchell supports PCRI in its mission to raise awareness of men’s health issues.
  • The Morris Animal Foundation. The Morris Animal Foundation is a leader in supporting scientific research that advances veterinary medicine. Paul Mitchell supports the organization in its work to improve the health and quality of life for dogs, cats, horses and wildlife around the world.
  • Eyes on Cancer. This nonprofit cancer awareness organization teaches beauty professionals to identify early-stage skin cancer. Through education in the beauty industry, Eyes on Cancer aims to reduce cancer fatality by leveraging those first-line responders that are naturally in a position to spot skin cancer/melanoma at its earliest stages.

The company also engages its customers and the general public in its charitable giving through the #GivingIsMyStyle program. Launched in 2014, the social media campaign encourages fans of the company to share how or why they make a difference in their communities with the hashtag #GivingIsMyStyle, for which the company will donate $1 to one of its nonprofit partners.

For more information, visit the company’s website.

News Briefs
12/7/2016 12:00 AM

Boeing has awarded $6 million in grants to more than 50 nonprofit organizations and education institutions across Washington state.

Boeing has awarded $6 million in grants to more than 50 nonprofit organizations and education institutions across Washington state. The grants are geared toward programs that enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); workforce training; and educational and career pathway opportunities for students—particularly for underserved students who have not historically pursued these career paths, the company said. The grants include a total of $1 million to further support students seeking a STEM education and enhanced learning opportunities at local universities. Grantees include the University of Washington, Washington State University and Seattle University. The other $5 million in grants, ranging from $25,000 to $550,000, are designed to provide a continuum of learning and education resources for Washington’s younger residents, Boeing said.

News Briefs
12/4/2016 12:00 AM

The Ford Motor Company Fund is boosting its investment in Detroit with a $5 million expansion of an innovative community center that serves the city’s east side.

The Ford Motor Company Fund is boosting its investment in Detroit with a $5 million expansion of an innovative community center that will bring services to thousands of students and residents on the city’s east side. In cooperation with the Detroit Public Schools Foundation and Detroit Public Schools, the Ford Fund will launch a second Ford Resource and Engagement Center in Detroit. According to Ford, the new center will be housed at Fisher Magnet Upper Academy on Detroit’s east side, bolstering the educational opportunities for area children and increasing access to essential services for residents. The east side center is modeled after the original center that opened in southwest Detroit three years ago. Located in Mexicantown Mercado, the first Ford Resource and Engagement Center has assisted more than 80,000 local residents through a range of social and cultural services, from providing 1.2 million pounds of food to helping complete more than 6,000 tax returns. In total, the original center has returned $3 in services to the local community for every $1 invested by Ford and the nonprofits that provide services, the company said.

News Briefs
11/30/2016 12:00 AM

Exelon has committed $3 million over three years to help fund a significant expansion of Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man program in Chicago.

Electric utility company Exelon has committed $3 million over three years to help fund a significant expansion of Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man program, with a goal to serve 4,080 male Chicago Public Schools students this year. BAM is a school-based group counseling program that helps young men learn and utilize social cognitive skills, such as slowing down their thinking, considering the perspectives of others and identifying and evaluating consequences before acting. The program model integrates cognitive behavioral therapy, youth engagement and rites of passage work. BAM’s foundation rests upon six core values: integrity, accountability, self-determination, positive anger expression, respect for women and visionary goal setting. Last school year, BAM served 2,751 young men in 50 Chicago schools. According to the company, the expansion represents an increase of 30 percent over the previous year, or an additional 1,300 students.


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  • Meet the Editor

    Nicholas King

    Nicholas King has served as editor of Corporate Philanthropy Report since 2007, and he continues to be impressed with the philanthropic efforts of the nation’s business sector.

    Drawing on an educational background in English and environmental policy, Nicholas began his journalism career in 2000 when he was brought on as editor of Environmental Laboratory Washington Report, a niche-market subscription-based newsletter serving the environmental testing industry. After seven years of honing his craft, Nicholas expanded his writing/editing portfolio to an entirely new field of interest - corporate philanthropy. As editor of Corporate Philanthropy Report, he stays abreast of the latest developments affecting corporate giving—and the charitable/nonprofit sector more broadly—providing his readers the “need to know” information vital for making the best use of their limited charitable dollars.

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