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News & Press: ABAG's Baltimore Business Journal Column

ABAG's BBJ Column: Corporate Giving Doesn't Have to Be Cash Only

Friday, September 19, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz
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September 19, 2014
By Celeste Amato, Contributing Columnist

Business owners across Maryland tell us that corporate philanthropy — charitable giving directed by a business entity — is highly rewarding to everyone associated with their business.

In the same way that a business plan helps a company stay on course toward its financial goals, a charitable giving program, however informal, can help a business achieve its charitable goals and effectively support the communities it serves. A corporate giving program can include direct cash gifts, sponsorships, or donations of employee talent and expertise to nonprofits or any combination of these and other options.

There are several ways your company can support causes and organizations in addition to cash grants.
Offering non-cash giving options enables your company to better achieve its program goals and meet more community needs than can be met by cash giving alone.
Donations of goods or services can expand your company’s charitable giving. These contributions can consist of products, supplies, property, or excess inventory. They can also include services such as printing, website development, and use of meeting rooms. In-kind gifts are tax-deductible within certain limits.

You may offer the time and expertise of employees, allowing them to help an organization on company time. Employee "loans” can be either for single events or projects, or on a regular, longer-term basis. This type of contribution provides nonprofits with expertise to which they would not ordinarily have access, and it increases your employees’ leadership skills and understanding of community needs.
  • There are many ways to engage employees in workplace giving opportunities, ranging from the United Way and other campaigns, to sponsoring company teams in fundraising walks and runs, to encouraging employees to volunteer in a company-sponsored initiative. You may or may not decide to link employee volunteerism to the company’s business goals; many small companies simply encourage employees to volunteer in their communities.
  • A direct cash grant is the most common type of contribution companies make. A company can deduct charitable grants from corporate taxes up to 10% of pre-tax net profits. In addition, there are several techniques you can use to increase the impact of a small charitable giving budget while encouraging giving from other sources, including employees.
  • Matching gift programs are an easy way to support the organizations and causes that are important to your employees. When an employee makes a donation to his/her favorite charity, the company matches that donation dollar-for-dollar, up to a specified limit per calendar year.
  • If your employees are active volunteers, one way to reward their efforts is through a Dollars for Doers program. This giving program makes cash grants to organizations where employees volunteer a certain amount of time. For example, the company might make a $100 donation for every 40 hours of volunteer time.
  • Making challenge grants is a specific grantmaking strategy designed to leverage additional resources for a project or program. The company makes a grant on the condition that the recipient will raise funds from other sources, usually within a certain period of time. For example, if a company gave a large grant it might require that the recipient raise an equal amount from other sources.
A business giving program designed in a way that is comfortable for you and your company, is your commitment to causes that are important to you, your business, and your community.

Celeste Amato, president of ‎the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, can be reached at She is writing a regular column for the Baltimore Business Journal.

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