The Past, Present, and Future of Workplace Giving in the United States

The Past, Present, and Future of Workplace Giving in the United States

Workplace giving, which accounts for $5 billion of the $300 billion Americans give annually to charity, is trending downward as a result of changes in the landscape on which the model was built — large industrial firms with stable workforces and widespread acceptance of giving through charitable intermediaries, a report from the Urban Institute finds. The report, The Past, Present, and Future of Workplace Giving in the United States (32 pages, PDF), found that the model of the single, all-in-one workplace campaign spread rapidly after World War II and that more than twelve hundred United Funds had been established across the country by 1959. The Combined Federal Campaign for military and civilian federal government employees, first introduced in 1956, was consolidated in 1971. Beginning in the 1990s, however, growing demand among donors for greater choice in giving, combined with weakening ties between local charity federations and companies as a result of mergers, downsizing, decentralization, and globalization, led to a decline in participation in workplace giving campaigns — a trend that was exacerbated by the Great Recession. The spread of online giving platforms also has weakened demand for traditional workplace fundraisers, and while many companies offer matching gift and volunteer programs as well as "branded" corporate social responsibility efforts, the rise of the "gig economy" has further eroded the importance of the workplace as a driver of charitable giving.   

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