How to Start a Corporate Employee Engagement and Matching Gifts Program

Talk to your employees first

It is important to get them on board from the start, and allow them to contribute to the workplace policy on how donations from employees will be matched.

  • Find out from your employees how they perceive the donation matching program.
  • Ask them what special ideas they have for tailoring the program to their workplace.
  • Find out anything else that your employees feel is important about having such a program in their workplace.

Take some time to research major companies with programs in place whose ethos and interests match with your own company's.
Some area companies with matching gift programs which support The Salvation Army in Chicago are:

  • Illinois Tool Works Foundation
  • BP Foundation
  • Bank of America
  • CNA Foundation

If you would like to talk to any of these matching gift program managers, we would be happy to reach out on your behalf to make an introduction.


As part of forming the policy for your corporation, consider the following issues:

  • Whether there are limits to the donation matching
  • Whether there are limits to the number of employees who can participate, or whether there will be seasonal, etc., rotations.
  • What forms of verification you will need in place from your employees
  • Whether eligible gifts will be part of your payroll deduction, or what other method will work best.
  • Whether you will limit the types of charities that will qualify for a match.
  • Need to meet statutory and regulatory requirements. 

You will need:

  • A policy with guidelines and/or rules as outlined in the prior step.
  • A dedicated person or people to administer the program.
  • Instructions on how to apply for the program within your company, including dates, deadlines, expectations of receipt proofs, etc.
  • Forms for employees to fill out.

While this might feel a little constraining for your employees, it has a number of benefits:

  • You can be certain that the charities are reputable.
  • Your company can check the taxation deduction applicability of chosen charities.
  • You will have more options in marketing your organization’s connection to the charities. The combined efforts of your employees may qualify you for recognition from the charity or being able to use their name and logo in your communications.
  • Sharing with customers, clients and employees who your company is supporting can be a big marketing coup. This is especially relevant with The Salvation Army, one of the most recognized nonprofit brands, not only in the US, but across the world.

Consider whether your company will match volunteer hours with a financial contribution. Many organizations will provide a dollar donation for every hour an employee volunteers with an organization. This communicates your commitment to your employees’ passion to give back to their community and provides sustainable support of the organization’s volunteer programs.

Other engagement opportunities can also include timely company-wide events such as school supply drives and backpack packing for back-to-school. The Holiday season also is a great time for food drives or collecting toys.

The Salvation Army has the resources to partner with you and your employees to find meaningful engagement projects throughout the year to benefit those in need across Chicagoland.


You might consider sponsoring staff to participate in special days, months, or events that seek to raise awareness and funds for specific issues such as youth alternatives to violence, education, music programing, human trafficking, or homelessness. Again, your company can make use of such events in marketing your commitment to the community as well as raising goodwill through participating. The benefit of partnering with The Salvation Army is the breadth of programs and services that we provide is guaranteed to find a fit with the diverse passions of your employees, customers or clients. 

  • Many companies use a payroll deduction program for employee donation matching. This is fairly simple to administer, easily traceable, and provides a method that is useful for meeting taxation and statutory requirements.
  • It's a good idea to get your company lawyers and accountants in on the process of developing a good program.
  • Consider whether your company will match in-kind gifts, either with similar/same in-kind gifts, or financial resources to the same extent.
  • Consider what parameters your company will expect from charities it supports - such as developing a baseline of why your company helps charities and working from there to craft minimum requirements that charities wanting to participate in your program must meet. The Salvation Army is committed to being one of the most efficient and effective organizations where you can invest your time and money and we are happy to help you develop success metrics for all of your charitable partners if you so desire.

These guidelines are provided only as examples of how other organizations handle their matching gifts program. Please be sure to consult with your own legal and accounting advisors as to how to set up your own program to best suit your own tax and financial situations as well as any regulatory requirements.

For more information on these projects and a full listing of sponsorship benefits, please contact one of our advisors listed below:

Scott Justvig, CFRE
Executive Director of Development and Communications
Office: (773) 205-3526

Dan Facchini, CFRE
Director of Corporate Leadership Gifts
Office: 773-205-3514

Connie Hetzler
Corporate Leadership Gifts Advisor
Office: 773-205-3536