Dollars for Doers: Rewarding Socially-Minded Corporate Volunteers

Dollars for Doers is ranked as one of the most successful Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs in America, so it’s important that both nonprofits and corporations are familiar with it. Here, we explore Dollars for Doers programs and how companies and nonprofits can take advantage of them to promote goodwill in your community. Plus, we have included guidelines for companies and nonprofits to create a corporate volunteer grant program that benefits businesses, their employees, and the charities they support. 

The Corporate Social Responsibility Model

According to Forbes, 90% of the largest companies are filing sustainability reports and 80% of “mainstream investors” consider the environmental and social impact of companies before making investment decisions. But what kinds of social responsibility initiatives are companies choosing to participate in? Corporations are finding ways to diversify their giving strategy. According to the Points of Light 2018 Civic 50 Report, 44% of Civic 50 companies are making multi-faceted investments to support their Corporate Social Responsibility model. This means that, in addition to donating a one-time chunk of their profits, companies are also donating in-kind services, setting up recurring pledges, and establishing employee volunteer programs like Dollars for Doers.

What is “Dollars for Doers”?

Dollars for Doers is a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative that encourages their employees to volunteer with charities of their choosing. In turn, the company will donate cash grants to these charities based on the number of volunteer hours each employee contributes. This program allows companies to support the causes that matter most to its employees. 

In addition to “Dollars for Doers,” companies with volunteer grant programs may also refer to them as Volunteer Grants, Dollar For Hour, or Grants for Time. 

Dollars for Doers Companies

Companies large and small can affect real change in their communities. The following examples of volunteer grant companies make some of the largest contributions in the United States, offering generous grants to community nonprofits when their employees volunteer:

  • Microsoft:  Microsoft has no minimum hours it will match, so volunteers are not limited to how much they’re able to raise for the nonprofit of their choice. They’ll also grant $25 for every volunteer hour, making Microsoft one of the most generous Dollars for Doers companies in the nation. 
  • Allstate: This insurance company gives the nonprofit of an employee’s choice up to $1,000 in exchange for 16 hours of service at the same nonprofit. This equates to more than $60 for every volunteer hour served. 
  • Verizon: When a Verizon employee volunteers 50 hours with the same organization, the company will donate $750. Nonprofits benefit from sustained volunteer support and a generous monetary contribution.

Why Are Dollars for Doers Programs Beneficial?

When managed effectively, Dollars for Doers programs can be mutually beneficial to businesses and nonprofits.

How Companies Benefit from Dollars for Doers

According to a 2016 report from the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP), Dollars for Doers is the “second most frequently offered” employee volunteer program for American businesses. This program is a popular way for companies to give back to their communities, and they frequently report high success rates with such programs. In fact, 45% of Fortune 500 companies offer volunteer grant programs. Companies that match volunteer hours benefit because they demonstrate authentic support for causes that matter to their employees. Here are more reasons companies–and their employees–win when they participate in a well-managed employee volunteer program:

  1. Employees donate their time to an organization that aligns with their personal values or interests.
  2. Employees can make a difference in their communities, and earn recognition for their efforts, even if they are unable to make a cash contribution. 
  3. Volunteer grants for nonprofits magnify community impact and further incentivize employee volunteerism. 
  4. It’s good publicity; employee grant programs provide brand recognition and greater visibility in the community. 
  5. Companies can boost employee engagement. Social responsibility programs are shown to improve employee morale and create a healthier work environment. These benefits can reduce employee turnover and increase workplace satisfaction. 

How Nonprofits Benefit from Dollars for Doers:

Corporate giving to charities increased to over $20 billion in 2018 and 82% of businesses say their employees want the opportunity to volunteer in a corporate-supported environment. There is no doubt that corporations and their employees are interested in making meaningful contributions to nonprofits like yours:

  1. Nonprofits can work to meet their fundraising goals and volunteerism goals simultaneously. 
  2. Companies tend to be capable of making larger contributions. By developing meaningful relationships with corporate partners, you may be more likely to meet (even exceed) your fundraising goals!
  3. Take advantage of more helping hands. Corporate Dollars for Doers programs typically donate when their employees complete a minimum number of volunteer hours with your organization. So you can count on your corporate volunteers to commit to your cause. Additionally, when volunteers have a positive experience participating with your organization, they may be more likely to volunteer again–and refer your organization to others. 
  4. Employee volunteers can offer valuable expertise. Make the most of professionals who want to contribute their skills or knowledge. Taking the time to match volunteers with the right opportunities can result in deeper engagement and better volunteer retention.

Dollars for Doers Program Guidelines

Dollars for Doers Guidelines for Companies 

How do employee volunteer grant programs work? Here are some Dollars for Doers guidelines to help your company establish an effective, thoughtful program: 

  1. Consider the types of organizations eligible for your Dollars for Doers grant. Most companies choose to accept registered nonprofit public charities with 501(c)(3) status. You may also find it helpful to establish a list of types of organizations who are ineligible. Companies may choose to discount organizations who do not match internal values, for example. 
  2. Establish the minimum number of volunteer hours required. How many hours will your volunteers need to complete in order to receive the grant? This will ensure your volunteers are truly committed to their chosen organization or cause. You’ll also want to provide a time-frame for your employees. Do they need to complete 5 hours of service within a year? 
  3. Decide on the grant amount per hour of volunteer time. According to a survey conducted by Points of Light, corporate matches for served hours averaged approximately $10 for every hour of volunteer service. Some companies will donate per hour of service, others will choose to donate a lump sum if the volunteer reaches a certain number of hours. You will also want to decide if you will cap grant amounts, or determine the maximum number of hours you will match. 
  4. Determine eligibility of employees. Will your company allow part-time employees and interns to participate? Some corporations offer Dollars for Doers grants for retired employees, while others offer grants for teams of volunteers. 
  5. Make it simple to get involved. Look for areas where you can streamline the management of your employee volunteer program. This may include making it easy for volunteers to find approved organizations and sign up for the opportunities they offer. 
  6. Put in place a system for tracking hours. Your company has to account for every dollar spent, so it’s important your employee grant program has the proper systems in place to log and track their hours. The simplest way to keep track of employee volunteer hours is to invest in an online volunteer management software or a smartphone app that allows volunteers to record their own hours and submit for review. 
  7. Share your success. Tracking the volunteer hours of your employees also means you are capturing the impact they’re having on your community. CSR is becoming increasingly important to consumers; they want to know that the companies behind the products they buy are forces for change in their communities. And having concrete data is a powerful way to communicate your impact. Share this data on your website, on social media, and with stakeholders.

In addition to the internal guidelines, companies should establish a Dollars for Doers policy before implementing the program. This policy should be made available to all grant recipients, including the employees who wish to participate in the program and the organizations they serve. 

Dollars for Doers Program Guidelines for Nonprofits

While corporations are largely responsible for organizing their own volunteer grant programs, nonprofits can certainly leverage the relationships with local companies and their employees to make the most of the program. 

  1. Promote Corporate Social Responsibility in your community. While there’s a good chance that larger companies are aware of CSR models, smaller companies or innovative start-ups may just need some inspiration! You may be able to arrange meetings with the management or executive teams of local companies to discuss your cause and why you need help from businesses like them. 
  2. Get to know the types of volunteer grant programs in your community. It’s important to understand the range of grant programs established in your community so you can better plan for volunteer grant programs. You’ll want to consider questions like, how do companies encourage their employees to volunteer their time?  When you get to know the motivations of businesses and their employees, you can target your message to these companies. 
  3. Strengthen your community relationships. While it’s important to build better relationships with the businesses in your community, it’s even more important that you win the hearts of their employees. The best way to engage volunteers is to: (1) be responsive from the moment they sign up for an opportunity; (2) Let volunteers and prospectives know about how their work is making a real difference; (3) Invite employee volunteers to refer a friend or participate as a team; (4) Don’t forget to thank them for supporting your cause!
  4. Match their skills and interests. Get to know your volunteers and their skills or expertise they can offer. You’ll create a meaningful experience so they’re more likely to engage with your organization again. Some volunteer management systems allow you to capture volunteer data, like interests and skills, when they register for your organization’s opportunities, streamlining the onboarding process and simplifying volunteer placement. 
  5. Offer hours tracking and reporting. Not every business will have an automated hours tracking system in place for their employees. If you can track hours on behalf of employee volunteers and provide them with impact summaries, you may strengthen your relationship with these businesses. 

The Volunteer Grant Process 

Typically, nonprofits and corporations will need to agree on a partnership process. The following suggested process is designed to ensure the nonprofit, the volunteer participant, and the business know what to expect in terms of responsibilities:

  1. Eligible employee seeks on community nonprofit and volunteer opportunity. 
  2. If the nonprofit is not already approved: Nonprofit notifies company representative of 501(c)(3) status. 
  3. Employee volunteers with approved nonprofit. 
  4. Volunteer submits grant request. 
  5. Nonprofit validates volunteer’s participation (including hours logged). 
  6. Company issues grant directly to nonprofit on behalf of the volunteer.  

Companies should also provide additional instructions for volunteers and the nonprofit to ensure each party is following protocol for the distribution of funds. 

Businesses can become one of the largest contributors to community charities. Dollars for Doers offers a powerful solution for corporations wanting to improve their social responsibility, reward their hard-working employees, and positively impact the nonprofits they support.

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