- What if I told you you could save over 60% on everyday essentials like food, housing, medical expenses, or continuing education? Would you jump at that opportunity?
- How about if you learned that your employer was withholding thousands of dollars of your salary each year without you knowing it? Would you try to get it back?
- Imagine I told you that there was a way for you to get a discount on your taxes without hiring a team of tax consultants. Would you try to take advantage?
- Now, what if I told you that this chance was going away forever in a month’s time…
If you work at a large company that offers corporate matching donations, you could be missing out on a huge savings, and time is running out!
If you have ever considered contributing to causes of any kind, or volunteered your time to an organization you care about, you probably want to see them to the most good and reach the most people possible. This is about maximizing your impact when you give time and money to the causes you care about.
Many companies will match every donation, dollar-for-dollar, up to some maximum dollar amount. This is a huge deal. It effectively doubles the amount of good you can do with your donation! When you max out your corporate matching charitable contributions, that means twice as many mosquito bed nets, twice as much money for medical aid, twice as many shelter beds for the homeless… You can do twice as much good for the same amount of money. Some companies will match donations 2x or even 3x in some cases!
“Wait, I thought this was all about personal gain?”
Actually, it kinda is…
That’s what happens every year you don’t use your corporate match…
When you don’t activate your company’s matching contributions, your employer gets to keep the money. Not only do you miss the chance to have a greater impact on your chosen charities, your employer gets to keep you working away for less money! If the average software development engineer (SDE) at Microsoft makes between $75K and $150K base salary, each $15K match not used represents a 9% – 17% pay cut! Microsoft can avoid paying its employees hundreds of millions of dollars each year if you don’t use your corporate match. Don’t give them the chance!
Many companies in the tech sector are good corporate citizens and offer generous matching for charitable donations (see the table below). Unfortunately, not everyone has gotten on board with matching, so employees at places like Amazon and Facebook are out of luck. If you work in big tech and your company isn’t stepping up, speak out and help get them on the donation train!
While it should probably be enough to get to double your impact for free, charitable contributions are tax deductible in the U.S. and many other countries, as long as you itemize your deductions when doing your taxes. This means that every $100 you donate only costs you $60-$70. Your donations are effectively on sale and that’s before the company match!
It might hurt to think about giving up your hard-earned money, even if it’s to do some good in the world, but look at it this way… When you donate using a corporate matching donation and deduct the taxes by itemizing, you’re not even paying the majority of your contribution!
Sample Donation Breakdown
Look, I don’t mean to make you feel cheap here, but you’re getting 64% off the price of your donation… If you don’t take that deal, people might start to think you’re a bit selfish.
Imagine you are going to work at your company for a total of 10 years… Each calendar year, your employer offers its charitable match. You take it, or you don’t. If you take it for 10 years, you get 10 years of benefit. Skip any years, and you lose out on your total benefit. 2017 is almost over, and so is your opportunity to take advantage of this year’s corporate match!
There’s no other way to say it – you use it, or you lose it. Donate before the end of the year, or lose that extra compensation, lose that tax credit, and worst of all, lose the chance to contribute to a cause you believe in.
Humans are very good at procrastination – why do now what you can put off until tomorrow? Or the next day? Or next week? Or next year? Few decisions have real consequences when you put them off – a little extra credit card interest when you don’ t pay down your card, or a dentist’s appointment you can re-schedule. Except, this isn’t preventative maintenance, and you can’t just decide to start flossing next month. When 2017 is over, the window on corporate matching donations closes, and you’ve lost one of your best chances to make a big difference with your charitable giving.
If you’ve stuck with me this far, you now have two things to do:
- Check to see if your employer has a corporate match.
- Donate using that corporate giving benefit to maximize your gift.
Surprisingly, many companies make it pretty difficult to find their gift matching programs. They are often managed by outside companies with names like Benevity or CyberGrants. Even more perversely, there are companies that manage databases that collect this gift matching contact information, which they then sell to charities for money.
Fortunately, you can use some of these search engines on charity websites to find your donation information. You are not obligated to donate to that charity – you can just use their database to find your employer’s information. Try one of the following links to find out how to reach your company:
Some folks have favorite charities all lined up, and that’s great! Get out there and make a difference by donating using your company’s match! If this is your first time donating, or if you’re having trouble making a decision, here are some suggestions and resources.
GiveWell is an organization that vets charities for the greatest impact of donations. That means they emphasize charities where the money can go the furthest, which has them focusing on global public health in sub-Saharan Africa. For the biggest bang for the buck, check out their recommendations, which include:
Against Malaria Foundation
The Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) is a United Kingdom-based charity that provides long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) to populations at high risk of malaria, primarily in Africa.
LLINs are distributed through partnerships with the International Red Cross, the Malaria Consortium, and others, with partners responsible for all costs of distribution. Distributions include malaria education for the local population, and they are documented through reports, photos, and video. Post-distribution check-ups are carried out 6, 12, 18, 24, and 30 months after the initial distribution to assess net usage and conditions. (Source: Wikipedia)
Schistosomiasis Control Initiative
Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) is an initiative that helps governments in African countries treat schistosomiasis, one of the most common neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), caused by parasitic worms.
SCI assists Ministries of Health across Sub-Saharan Africa and Yemen to develop national Schistosomiasis control programs. The SCI helps governments with logistical support: mapping the prevalence of the disease, formulation of a strategy plan, requesting and obtaining praziquantel from the donation program managed by the World Health Organization (WHO), and training of staff for implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the program. (Source: Wikipedia)
Deworm the World Initiative
The Deworm the World Initiative is a program led by the nonprofit Evidence Action that works to support governments in developing school-based deworming programs in Kenya, India, Ethiopia, and Vietnam.
Deworm the World supports the governments of India and Kenya in their respective national school-based deworming programs, and works with the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative in supporting Ethiopia’s national school-based deworming program. (Source: Wikipedia)
GiveDirectly is a nonprofit organization operating in Kenya and Uganda that aims to help people living in extreme poverty by making unconditional cash transfers to them via mobile phone (through M-Pesa in Kenya and MTN’s Mobile Money system in Uganda). Approximately 90% of donor funds are sent directly to recipients, with the remaining 10% split between fees for the transfers and recipient identification and follow-up costs. (Source: Wikipedia)
Watsi is a nonprofit healthcare crowdsourcing platform that enables individual donors to directly fund medical care for individuals in developing countries without access to affordable medical care. Watsi was the first nonprofit funded by seed accelerator Y Combinator.
Medical partners included Nyaya Health, Dr. Rick Hodes, Wuqu’ Kawoq, Children’s Surgical Centre, CURE International, African Mission Healthcare Foundation, Hope for West Africa, Project Muso, Lwala Community Alliance, Living Hope Haiti, Floating Doctors, Burma Border Projects, Partner for Surgery, International Care Ministries, The Kellermann Foundation, and World Altering Medicine.
In 2016, Wasti partnered with Patientco, a healthcare payment technology company, to fund medical procedures throughout the world. (Source: Wikipedia)
mRelief provides an easy-to-use platform online and through SMS that enables Americans to find out if they qualify for social services. Our mission is to restore dignity by transforming access to social services. We are building the new UI for social services making food, housing, health, utilities assistance available under one platform and in a way that is mutually beneficial to families and the overall discipline of social services. (Source: mRelief)
Zidisha is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that allows people to lend small amounts of money directly to entrepreneurs in developing countries. It is the first peer-to-peer microlending service to link borrowers and lenders across international borders without a local microfinance institution intermediary. The organization is named after the Swahili word zidisha, which means “grow” or “expand”.
The Zidisha website facilitates microlending transactions between individual web users worldwide and computer-literate, low-income entrepreneurs in developing countries. Users can fund loans, which borrowers use to develop businesses that improve their families’ incomes. Borrowers can share business updates and communicate with lenders as they repay loans. (Source: Wikipedia)
New Story crowdfunds houses for homeless families living in danger.
New Story partners with organizations on the ground that identify families living in conditions exposed to dangers like rape, theft, and sanitation borne disease. They tell the stories of these families on their crowdfunding platform. Donors can give directly to a family, and when the home is built 2-3 months later, donors receive a video of the family they helped moving into their new home. Local contractors build the homes, providing jobs and stimulating the economy. (Source: YC Blog)
If you are a lucky employee with a corporate gift matching benefit, I hope this inspires you to take action this year. If you do decide to make a donation, I’d love to hear about it in the comments! If you have any questions or feedback, please mention those as well! Finally, when you’ve finished making your own donations this year, please share this article with anyone you think could benefit. The more people we turn on to the potential of corporate matching donations, the greater our collective impact!
Thanks for reading!