Many companies offer matching gift programs to encourage employees to contribute to charitable organizations. Most programs are not only generous about giving money, but are also willing to donate to a broad spectrum of organizations. Matching gift programs are designed to be the means by which companies support employee charitable giving.
Herbert Thal of Pennsylvania, who has been a friend to ProLiteracy for nearly 20 years, recently told us about why he gives to ProLiteracy and takes advantage of GE’s matching gift program. Mr. Thal worked as an electrical engineer at GE for 33 years, 11 in Schenectady, New York, and 22 in the Philadelphia area. He and his late wife, Joan, raised five children, who are now successful adults. After taking early retirement in 1989, he continued to work as a consultant.
Q: Why did you decide to donate to ProLiteracy?
A: “I feel that it is critical for everyone to be able to read and write. I make modest donations to several charities that provide services that I feel are important. As I recall, I read about Frank Laubach and was so impressed by his interest in teaching people to read that I decided to donate to his charity, Laubach Literacy (now ProLiteracy).”
Q: How did you find out about GE’s matching gift program?
A: GE provides all employees with information on all the employee benefits. Employees can nominate any charity for consideration in the matching program as well. The GE Foundation provides GE's corporate support of charities, and the matching program encourages employees to provide support to charitable programs as individuals.
Q: Can you describe the process to match your donation?
A: Originally there were paper forms that were sent by the employee to the charity, which then confirmed the donation and forwarded the forms to GE to receive the matching amount. Now it is all done online, essentially as follows:
- The employee (or pensioner) opens the benefits website using a password.
- The employee searches, using the state where the charity in question is registered, to see if the charity is eligible for a match.
- If the charity is eligible, the employee provides the amount, date, whether the donation is cash or equities, and any restrictions. The rest of the process is completed between GE Foundation and the charity without any other action by the employee.
- The history of all submitted donations, including whether or not they have yet been matched, is available on the website at any time to the employee. The employee can simply click on the name to apply for a match for another donation to any charity already in his or her account.
- Some charities send a letter or email to the employee acknowledging receipt of the matching funds (based on my own experiences). (ProLiteracy does this)
The GE Foundation extends the gift-matching benefit to pensioners as well as to current employees.
If you want to double your impact through matching gifts, see how your employer does it by going to www.doublethedonation.com/proliteracy. As Mr. Thal illustrates, matching your gift is simple. You can help ProLiteracy double our impact by matching your gift through your employer today.