An Estimated $4 – $7 Billion in Matching Gift Funds Goes Unclaimed Per Year

There are billions of free donation dollars that are missed every year through employees that don’t take advantage of their matching benefits. I work at a Fortune 500 company in the U.S. that offers 50% matching for up to $2000 worth of donations ($1000 free dollars) every year. They even allow me to donate to the Long-Term Future EA Fund. There are 50,000 employees at my company and I’m confident most of them do not take advantage of this benefit.

In individual cases you can give money to your coworkers to donate. I’ve already spoken to one of my friends at work who is fine doing this. They may even be able to benefit from a tax write off (I’m not sure the legality of this). If you can individually convince a few friends at work to do this, that is a couple thousand extra dollars a year that can be donated.

Larger scale we could create an organization that takes advantage of these missed opportunities. For example, there are already companies[1] that front you money so that you can take advantage of your employee stock purchase program. Why couldn’t there be a similar organization that allows individuals to fully take advantage of their donation matching benefits. Further, our organization could even pay people to donate. If a company is offering a 50% match up to $2000 it would even make sense to incentivize individuals with an additional $100 (or more) if they would just take the steps of receiving money from us and donating it to an EA approved organization.

To clarify, if a person was working at the company I do and didn’t previously donate we could send them $2100. They could keep $100 and donate the other $2000 to an EA approved organization. That would give the organization an additional $900 that they otherwise would not have received.

  • An estimated $4 – $7 billion in matching gift funds goes unclaimed per year.

  • 65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gift programs.

  • Over 26 million individuals work for companies with matching gift programs.

  • An estimated $2 – $3 billion is donated through matching gift programs annually.

  • Over the last three years, the percentage of Russell 1000 companies publicly disclosing that they offer employee matching gifts grew by 11.8%.[2]

Some questions and caveats that I have:

  1. How would we confirm that they donated the money?

  2. What is the legality of doing this?

  3. Companies will start to decrease their matching benefits before we could reach the $4 - $7 billion limit.

  4. If the company finds out that you are individually doing this with your colleagues it could hurt your reputation.

  5. Has this idea already been thought of?

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