In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, corporate philanthropy reached new heights in 2020. And that rising trend is expected to continue.

According to The Voice of Corporate Philanthropy in Response to COVID-19 Worldwide report, 43% of corporate leaders say they intend to revise their disaster relief strategy, and 26% intend to expand their employee engagement programming.

It’s clear that companies are doing more to provide support in this time of need.

If you’re planning to increase your corporate giving efforts this year, the thought process at times can be overwhelming. You may be asking yourself ‘where do I begin?’

When in doubt, start with the basics.

Corporate philanthropy refers to the investments and activities a company voluntarily undertakes to responsibly manage and account for its impact on society. It can come in several different forms, including volunteer grants – when companies provide monetary grants to organizations where employees regularly volunteer – or corporate sponsorships – when companies provide financial support to a nonprofit that in return acknowledges that the business has supported its activities, programs or events.

The following three programs are popular, efficient ways to jumpstart your corporate giving.

3 Corporate Philanthropy Programs to Start Giving

1) Employee Engagement Program

Employee engagement programs come in different shapes and sizes. With Employee Matching Gift programs, for example, companies financially match donations that their employees make to nonprofit organizations.

Another option is Employee and Board Grant Stipends, when companies award grants to employees and/or public boards to donate to the nonprofit of their choice.

A third route is implementing a Volunteer Program by partnering your team with nonprofits to provide specialized support.

Which is right for you? Ask your employees to provide input.

It’s best practice to select an employee engagement program that aligns with your company values . TOMS shoes company has matched every pair of shoes purchased since its founding in 2006 with a donated pair for a child, providing more than 95 million kids with the footwear they need for protection against infection and disease and access to education, according to the company’s 2019 Impact Report.

By engaging your employees in philanthropy and aligning your cause and nonprofit partners with your company’s values, mission or vision, you benefit from high employee engagement, employee retention and the ability to attract top talent. Corporate philanthropists also see a more positive work environment and enhanced customer relationships.

2) Community Impact Program

Through a community impact program, you can grant money to local nonprofit organizations that align with your giving priorities to make the most impact in your community. With this approach, companies define grant criteria, intake grant applications from nonprofit organizations sometimes working with a community foundation partner, and select nonprofit applicants to receive grant funding.

WD-40 Company employees, for example, created a grant program to address the root causes of economic instability to give more San Diegans in their community a pathway to prosperity.

Through the WD-40 Company corporate-advised fund at The San Diego Foundation, employees granted $189,000 to seven nonprofit programs that helped individuals and families permanently pull themselves out of poverty.

3) Corporate Scholarship Program

Corporate scholarship programs award scholarship dollars to universities on behalf of students seeking support to continue their studies, encouraging college education and workforce development.

This is one of the most effective ways to execute your corporate philanthropy strategy and see an immediate impact.

Cox Communications, for example, established the Cox Charities Fund at The San Diego Foundation in 1999 to provide scholarships to graduating high school seniors for their educational endeavors. Supported by contributions from Cox Communications and its employees, these scholarships are used for tuition, books, fees, room and board and other educational expenses.

Reaching students in Santa Barbara, Orange County, Palos Verdes and San Diego County, Cox Charities Fund has resulted in more $2 million in scholarships to California high school seniors since 2000.

Make an Impact

Whether your company is considering how to give or you’re already making a difference in your community, The San Diego Foundation team is here to help you further your corporate philanthropy mission.

Since 1975, The San Diego Foundation has helped passionate, socially-responsible companies find ways to create positive impacts in communities across San Diego.

Learn more about how our Custom Corporate Giving program could be a fit for your business.