Matching gifts are often overlooked

Paid vacations, sick leave, health insurance and retirement plans are benefits companies commonly offer their employees.

But, as part of their commitment to corporate philanthropy, many employers offer another benefit that is frequently overlooked: a matching gift program designed to support the nonprofits their employees are passionate about.

Today, one-third of all employees in America are baby boomers (age 52 and older). Nearly half say they don’t expect to retire until they are 66 or older, and 10 percent say they will never retire.

Not only are boomers a large population of the workforce, but they are one of the largest charitable donor generations.

According to Blackbaud, a supplier of donor management software, 72 percent of baby boomers donate to charity, with the average boomer giving $1,212 to an average of 4.5 charities.

Companies both large and small often match gifts. Since there are no universal guidelines and programs vary from company to company, donors are rarely aware of whether their employer or their spouse’s employer offers a matching gift program that could double their donation.

As a result, the median employee participation rate for matching gift programs is at a very low 9 percent and an estimated $6 billion to $10 billion of matching gift funds go unclaimed every year.

Companies determine how much to match employee donations based upon a preset ratio that could match up to 100 percent. Individual matches may range from a minimum of $25 to a maximum of $20,000.

 Internet research highlights the matching programs for three of the larger employers in the Conejo Valley.

One matching gift program provides staff members the opportunity to increase their monetary donations to their favorite eligible charitable organization. Their company’s foundation matches every dollar donated by an individual staff member from $50 to a cumulative total of $20,000 annually.

Another program allows associates to give to nonprofit organizations across the country. A 50 percent match increases the impact of these gifts. In 2013, associates of this organization nationwide gave about $4.5 million through the program. Paired with the foundation match, that total was raised to $6.8 million.

According to its website, the third program offers an easy way to execute the matching gift program and encourage donors to apply.

Charitable giving by individuals makes up the vast majority of contributions received by nonprofit organizations. A Giving USA 2015 study estimates that individual giving accounted for 72 percent of all contributions received by nonprofits in 2014.

Whether you are donating to a charity as a year-end contribution, in memory of a loved one, because you are moved by a recent life experience or in response to a friend’s request, check to see if you or your partner’s employer offers a matching gift program.

Multiplying your donations is good for you and good for the cause. Contact your human resources department to see if your company has a matching gift program.

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Andrea GallagherAndrea Gallagher

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