Amplifying impact through matching gifts


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As demonstrated by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s 2019 Community Involvement Study, companies are meeting both business and social objectives by organizing employee giving campaigns—and matching employee contributions. Vanguard, one of the world’s largest investment companies, certainly knows the importance of long-term investing, and that foundational principle also informs its approach to community support. In fact, Vanguard recently modified the employee matching gift program to amplify individual giving and, it hopes, drive even more change across many important causes.

Vanguard’s signature charitable initiative, the Strong Start for Kids Program, gives children growing up in poverty in Greater Philadel­phia, Charlotte, and Phoenix the opportunity to grow, thrive, and learn, with a focus on improving kindergarten readiness. Through Strong Start for Kids, employees have the opportunity to donate funds, their time, and their talent to help improve kindergarten readiness by focusing on early learning opportunities, parent and caretaker skills, and systems that benefit young children and their families. All employee donations to Vanguard Strong Start for Kids are matched at 100 percent by the company with an unlimited match cap.

Strong Start for Kids is a dynamic example of the collective impact that strategic contributions can make. Since its inception in 2015, Vanguard and its employees have given $25.5 million to bolster kindergarten readiness in the communities where the program is run. Vanguard employees have also generously responded to an expansive matching gift program for other causes.

That Vanguard has experienced significant participation in its matching gift program is supported by relevant research, which found that charitable donations increased when a matching gift program is offered. In a 2018 study, researchers found that participants donated 33 percent of their overall budget for charitable gifts when a matching gift was offered, compared to 23 percent when no matching gift was offered.[1]

The impact of incentivizing employee giving through matching gifts is certainly not lost on Vanguard, whose Executive Director of Community Stewardship Carra Cote-Ackah and Chairman and CEO Mortimer J. Buckley acknowledged that the whole is often greater than the sum of its parts: “Together, our targeted investment approach, our employees, and the corporate resources we put behind our communi­ty stewardship are positioning us to deliver an outsized social return, one more powerful than we could each achieve alone.”

Read more in the 2019 Community Involvement Study.


[1] Charness, G, & Holder, P. (2018). Charity in the Laboratory: Matching, Competition, and Group Identity. Management Science.e. Strategic Management Journal