How workplace giving supports tangible change

Nonprofits are connecting to a new generation of donors by partnering with America’s Charities.

Donating through a workplace giving campaign – that is, employee-sponsored charitable giving – can make a world of difference for the nonprofit organization you want to help.

When you write a check to your favorite charity, it may not go as far as you think. While individual donations are important, they must be processed piecemeal and are often restricted to certain uses, which costs nonprofits time and labor and limits the impact of funds. Workplace giving donations, on the other hand, are aggregated and unrestricted, saving organizations valuable resources and ensuring that funds are put to the best possible use.

The Salvation Army, for instance, has put workplace giving donations toward a variety of important programs that assist communities, giving them flexibility to focus their own fundraising efforts on special projects such as supportive housing for young, homeless mothers and their children. Thanks to these efforts, The Salvation Army can give women a place to stay, plus access to classes on subjects like money management that can help them put their families “on the road to stability,” said Major James Hall, area commander for The Salvation Army National Capital Area Command.

The Salvation Army’s story isn’t unusual. Across the nation, workplace giving campaigns are allowing federal and private-sector employees to make recurring charitable donations to the causes of their choosing. And because the donations are unrestricted, nonprofits have the freedom to “put the funding where it’s most needed,” said Hall. On top of that, participating in workplace giving is easy for the donor, and having a donation deducted from each paycheck all year long allows employees to give more over time without it feeling like such a large lump sum. When you add up the myriad benefits that workplace giving has for everyone involved, it creates a more efficient and impactful donation system for donors and charities alike.

The power of linking nonprofits to employees who want to give back

When nonprofits are more visible and accessible to employees looking to give back, donations can increase substantially. For instance, about two years ago, The Salvation Army teamed up with America’s Charities, an organization that helps approximately 140 member nonprofits plan and execute employee giving campaigns. The partnership has allowed The Salvation Army to reach “a wider audience” of potential donors, according to Hall. It’s also led to a higher volume of donations; on average, those participating in workplace giving campaigns donate five to 10 times more than annual donors, according to Jim Starr, CEO of America’s Charities. And the regularity of the donations, which are gathered before reaching employees’ bank accounts, adds up over time.

The consistency of the donations that The Salvation Army received through the partnership has been a boon, too. Most nonprofit organizations receive a flood of donations at year’s end, when holiday giving is in full swing, but funding dips during the spring and summer, according to Hall. With workplace giving campaigns, donations are collected in the fall and dispersed to nonprofits in the spring. “We can count on that income in advance, so we know how to adjust our budgets accordingly,” he said.

America’s Charities also bundles funds from multiple workplace giving campaigns so that nonprofits can avoid the administrative headache of processing thousands of different donations. Additionally, they give the nonprofits they work with support during the complicated application and filing processes; each state and locality has different requirements for receiving donations, said Starr, “and we’re experts in what those [requirements] are, so we’re able to get our members into those campaigns successfully.”

Giving exposure to nonprofits in need

The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), the federal government’s workplace giving program, is instrumental in keeping the workplace giving tradition alive. Each year, the CFC raises millions of dollars annually for health and human services nonprofits across the globe, such as Feeding America and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation. Ahead of the campaign, America’s Charities “maximizes the visibility and exposure of nonprofits” by connecting them to charity fairs where they can meet with federal employees face to face, according to Starr.

For Feeding America, which has been an America’s Charities member since 2001, public exposure has helped tremendously. “We are able to engage supporters who may not know much about us, connect them to our mission via giving and volunteer opportunities and build deep relationships with these employees,” said Teresa Gruber, manager of employee engagement at Feeding America. In turn, they’ve been able to raise more money to feed more people; today, the nonprofit serves 46 million people annually and has 200 member food banks across the U.S.

America’s Charities also gives Feeding America access to speaking events and charity fairs and boosts exposure for its Hunger Action Month campaign each September. Several of Feeding America’s corporate partners have donated more and for a longer period of time since starting workplace giving campaigns, and that has supported “impactful work in advancing our mission,” Gruber said.

Bringing colleagues together around a cause

Workplaces that give back also experience benefits: Employees stay at their jobs longer and gain leadership skills when they donate or volunteer together, according to Gruber. And a 2017 report by America’s Charities found that employees are more motivated to donate or volunteer through the workplace when they can collaborate with their colleagues. “Working around a common cause to make a difference in the community connects employees to one another in a unique way, adding greater meaning to their relationships,” Gruber said.

Most employees also want to be able to choose which cause or nonprofit they help, the report found. A broad mix of nonprofit causes are typically accessible through the employer-sponsored giving programs managed by America’s Charities, including animal welfare and cancer research. With all of this information at employees’ fingertips, choosing a cause to support might be the toughest part of a workplace giving campaign. When Hall meets people who want to give back but aren’t sure how, his response is often, “What is your interest? What is your priority in your life?” he said. “Most people will say, ‘I’m into addiction treatment,’ or, ‘I’m into feeding or youth programs,’ and [then] I’m able to talk about the programs and what we do.”

And employees may even have a number of causes to choose from within each charitable organization. Often, a nonprofit’s overall mission includes numerous services that donors might be unaware of. While The Salvation Army is focused on helping families in crisis, for example, that quest extends to feeding families, providing emergency rent and utility assistance, after-school programs and addiction treatment.

Thanks in part to workplace giving campaigns, The Salvation Army’s list of offerings continues to grow. The organization launched a new 24-hour anti-human trafficking shelter last July in the greater Washington, D.C., area, and Hall has high hopes for The Salvation Army’s partnership with America’s Charities.

“Within the first year that we became fully active, we met the previous year’s [funding] goal,” he said. “This year we’re looking to exceed it.”

To learn more about Workplace Giving, visit America’s Charities at

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