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New Technology Streamlines Corporate Giving

October 8, 2000
Related Topics: Ethics, Featured Article, Technology
Corporate giving programs are well-meaning yet often ill conceived. Goodintentions can quickly turn into a logistical nightmare. While energetic,rah-rah volunteers often launch specific corporate giving campaigns, the actualpaperwork -- and there’s lots of it -- falls to HR, which must designate staffto handle it.

Requiring employees to fill out giving forms in triplicate dampens enthusiasmfor corporate matching programs, in which an employer will match a contributionto a charity or non-profit organization.

As a result, the charities themselves suffer. Of the $190 billion donated tocharity in 1999, only $11 billion came from corporate grants and matchingemployee donations, according to the American Association of Fund-raisingCounsel.

A new company,, is looking to improve on that dismal resultby revolutionizing the way corporations donate to charity. Its Internet-basedtechnology makes it easier for companies to administer their charitable givingprograms. Employees can now make donations right from their desktops, with acredit card or through payroll deductions -- and have the amount automaticallymatched by their employers.

It represents a transition "from workplace giving to workspacegiving," notes fundraising expert Adam Corson-Finnerty, co-author of thebook Fundraisingand Friend-Raising on the Web.

Simpler, Secure, and More Efficient

One of the problems with corporate giving programs in the past was poorreporting and handling of data -- on the part of both the companies and thecharities. For example, not long ago, even the venerable United Way sufferedfrom what were viewed as disorganized procedures -- resulting in financiallosses. offers a customized online "Workplace GivingCenter" that offers:

  • A detailed explanation of a company’s corporate giving programs, pluslists of charities.

  • A place to publish customized content, "such as ‘Employee SusanJones just completed a bike ride to raise money for AIDS,’" spokesperson Laura Segal.

  • Management tools and recordkeeping functions to keep better track of wherethe funds are coming from -- and more important, where they’re going.

What does get out of the deal? Usually, a percentage of thedonations made to each charity. And companies who participate are charged a"varying fee, a licensing fee," says Segal.

The charities get a chance to reach a larger pool of potential donors. Andfor that, they’re grateful -- even if it means giving up a little of eachcontribution. United Way of Silicon Valley has already signed on, as haveothers.

" represents the model of financial efficiency,"says Mark Moulton, executive director of Peninsula Habitat for Humanity in MenloPark, California. "We will receive close to 91 percent of eachdonation."

Sara Forslund, associate director of Green Corps in Boston, also praises theprogram. "Charitableway provides Green Corps with an excellent and easy wayto reach donors we normally wouldn’t have the capacity to reach as a smallnonprofit."

How it Works

  • Non-profits sign up with, and are listed with theirdescriptions and contact information.

  • Corporations choose which charities or types of charities they want tooffer on their customized giving centers (a corporate intranet is notrequired).

  • Employees donate money through credit card transactions or payrolldeductions.

  • The donated money is transferred to the charities through an electronicbanking process.

About the Site

With everything from payroll, benefits and 401(k) plans now automated,converting corporate giving programs to an electronic format seems to makeperfect sense. Whether corporate America buys into it remains to be seen. A demoversion of the technology is available on their Web site.

Sources for Related Information

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