August 26, 2018; TechCrunch
Bright Funds, a workplace philanthropy startup that was recently featured by TechCrunch, aims to empower employees to more readily access corporate matching donation funds by eliminating the need for separately filing donation receipts with their companies in order to claim the matching contribution.
Bright Funds has an approach that is somewhat unique. While other companies, like Double the Donation, focus on the receiving end of the donation, Bright Funds starts with the business that offers the matching funds. Bright Funds acts as a one-stop-shop for these companies, providing the resources to set up or manage a corporate philanthropy or volunteering system. Since the majority of matching funds programs are done through cumbersome paperwork systems, getting everything onto an expertly managed portal can be a game-changer.
The potential value of such companies as Bright Funds is clear. Double the Donation reports that unused corporate matching gift funds can total up to $10 billion every year, with only an estimated nine percent of employees opting to participate. By streamlining their charitable services through Bright Funds, corporations would enable their workers to donate far more effectively than before.
While improved philanthropic effectiveness for “every individual” sounds great for nonprofits, what’s in it for the companies giving the funds? It’s simple—the big draw for Bright Funds-managed firms would be their ability to increase employee engagement and recruitment, which may help these competitive companies attract top talent.
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NPQ has written extensively on the value that employee engagement provides an organization—particularly in the case of nonprofits—and most notably when it featured a 2014 study by Nonprofit HR. It asserted “that if nonprofit leaders ‘dedicated the same time, attention and resources to their people as they do to fund development, the sector as a whole would be more successful.’” And why’s that? “Happy, engaged employees are [the] best brand ambassadors because they will tell anyone and everyone how great [their] mission is, how much they love their work, and how effective the team is.”
Bright Funds’ matching funds programs includes what they call their “Shared Values model,” a strategy that taps into the need that “employees [have] to be empowered and supported by their company for personal causes [and] to be part of something bigger than themselves.”
Through this model, Bright Funds comes to a similar conclusion that Nonprofit HR did back in 2014: “[This] will not only touch the hearts of employees and encourage them to spread the news of the great work to their personal network, [but] it will also amplify the story to the rest of the professional world.”
Not only is Bright Funds making matching donations programs more accessible, but it’s expanding the donation base; the firm claims that companies using the app have seen employee donations rise 40 percent. Hopefully, over time, these kind of services can make employee matching funds accessible to many more people.—Moshe Hecht