Sarah Ford | March 30, 2015

How Dollars For Doers Programs Bolster Fundraising

 By Adam Weinger

From holding doors open to leading mobility-impaired persons across streets, people reach out and help strangers every day. What do these good-doers receive in return? Perhaps the intimate feeling of having done the right thing or a simple thank you or nothing. And these people are okay with their lack of a reward because they’re good people.

But what if being a good person helped to raise money for charitable causes? Would more people do good?

The idea behind volunteer grants, also known as dollars for doers programs, is to encourage a culture of philanthropy that gives as opposed to aiding fundraising that takes. Corporations reward volunteerism through monetary donations to encourage their employees to be better people and to improve their communities.

What is a volunteer grant?

Anybody with a heart wants the world to beat a little stronger and a little healthier, at least in some way. Employees are passionate about many causes, and they volunteer with the nonprofits that speak to their passions. Not only does volunteering entail potential nonmonetary benefits for volunteers, but many companies reward volunteerism with monetary donations to the employees’ chosen nonprofits.

Essentially, an employee works for a nonprofit for a certain amount of time and, according to how much time the employee works, the employer donates a certain amount of money. It’s volunteerism that pays off for employees, employers, and especially for nonprofits. It’s money that can alter lives that so badly need a little more love.

How do dollars for doers programs work?

People volunteer, which causes fifty dollar bills, featuring the strapping Ulysses S. Grant, to rain down from money green clouds until the volunteers leave for the day. But in reality…

40% of Fortune 500 companies offer dollars for doers programs, as do many smaller employers. Through these programs companies donate to nonprofits according to how many hours employees volunteer with the good nonprofits they find. Some companies donate a set amount for every hour, while other companies require that employees reach certain benchmarks to provoke donations.

A few examples of dollars for doers programs:

  • CarMax donates $10 for every hour an employee volunteers and will give up to $10,000 annually per employee.
  • 3M gives a $250 grant once an employee has volunteered for at least 20 hours in a year.
  • Outerwall (Coinstar/Redbox) donates $150 for every ten hours volunteered up to a maximum of 40 hours, so an employee earns a $150 grant for ten hours and a $600 grant for 40 hours.

Double the Donation maintains a list and database of the top companies with volunteer grant programs or you can ask your volunteers to check with their HR department to learn the parameters of an employer’s grant program.

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