Letter, Opinion

Options abound for businesses to give to charity

Dear Editor,

New England businesses, both large and small, offer charitable support to the many projects and programs that enrich the lives of all New Englanders and therefore play a vital philanthropic role in maintaining the region’s quality of life.

In return, many businesses reap enormous benefits, such as enhanced image, better customer relations and higher employee morale.

We recognize that nonprofit organizations provide services that are vital to our community’s well-being. Most of us support these organizations as individuals — and, increasingly, as employees of public-spirited companies.

Here are seven ways in which your business can make a difference:

1. Direct cash donation. A direct cash grant is the most common type of contribution. A company can deduct charitable grants from corporate taxes, up to 10 percent of pre-tax net profits.

2. Employee matching gifts. When an employee donates to his or her favorite charity, the company matches that donation dollar for dollar, up to a specified limit per calendar year.

3. Dollars for doers. If your employees are active volunteers, one way to reward their efforts is through a “dollars for doers” program. This involves 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.

4. Challenge grants. The company makes a grant on the condition that the recipient 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.

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.

5. In-kind contributions or donations. 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.

6. Loaned talent. You may offer the time and expertise of employees, allowing them to help an organization on company time. Employee “loans” can be for single 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 increases your employees’ leadership skills and understanding of community needs.

7. Employee engagement. There are many ways to engage employees in workplace giving opportunities, ranging from sponsoring company teams in fund raising walks and runs to encouraging employees to volunteer in a company-sponsored initiative.

Today, companies of every size are participating in programs that contribute volunteers and dollars to the community’s nonprofit organizations. These businesses understand that getting their philanthropic programs up and running is a good investment because it pays off in employees who take pride in their own ability to make a difference and in their company’s role in making the community a better place to live.

Martin Cohn,



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