November 11, 2010; Source: San Jose Mercury News | At Yahoo, 60 percent of employees donate money to the Yahoo Employee Foundation (contributions are matched dollar for dollar by the company, up to $1,000 a year). An employee board receives and reviews grant applications from nonprofits and hears brief presentations from the applicant nonprofits and employee sponsors. The Yahoo Employees Foundation meets twice a year to go through this process, often involving board members in meetings, sometimes taking several nights to review all of the applications. Some recent presentations include a proposed computer lab in Ghana, an Indian nonprofit that gives out scholarships, and a Los Angeles charity that delivers food to the sick and homebound. This past October’s meeting awarded grants to 38 of the 53 applicants, bringing the Yahoo Employees Foundation’s grant total in 2010 to $2.2 million.
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The Yahoo model appears to invest employees with authority to make the funding decisions based not just on their own pre-campaign interests, but on a deliberative process of receiving and reviewing grant applications. It is a process that empowers employees and gives them a sense of involvement in all phases of the charitable process, not just the part in which they make the charitable donations.—Rick Cohen