Finding the Right Recipient: Employer Matching Gifts Programs

Matching-gift programs are a bonus that often goes unnoticed by employees
Jan 11, 2013 9:00 AM ET

Every year since he adopted his 4-year-old son from South Korea, Sean Walton, of Bedford, Mass., has made a donation to the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute in New York., which advocates for adoptive families. Through its matching-gift program, his employer, Loomis, Sayles & Co. in Boston, matches his donation dollar for dollar.

"It's a great benefit because it gives the employees a say, as far as where the company donations go," said Walton, a bond trader.

Walton is among the millions of Americans who take advantage of their employers' matching gifts, a use-it-or-lose-it perk. Typically, the employee must provide proof of the donation and of the charity's 501(c)(3) status. Some employers have preapproved recipient lists, while others give employees carte blanche.

Although these programs generate millions of dollars in donations each year, they often go unnoticed by employees.

"Their rules and criteria are buried in the employee handbook," said Michael Montgomery, a Huntington Woods, Mich.-based nonprofit consultant. "It's usually up to the employee to find them."

Read more about Employer Matching Gifts Programs at the Chicago Tribune.