7 Trending Corporate Social Responsibility Programs People Leaders Should Know in 2023

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a business framework that promises a sustainable outcome for the society it operates in. Businesses that align with CSR best practices operate in an economically, socially, and environmentally conscious way. 

Generally, those practices can include reducing carbon emissions, supporting diversity and inclusion, and engaging in fair labor practices, as well as contributing to local communities and charitable organizations who are making a difference in the world.

The goal of any business that aligns with CSR best practices is to balance the interests of the company with those of the society and environment as a whole.

In recent years, there has been a large growth in the popularity of the number of companies that operate in a socially responsible manner. From this growing trend emerged a handful of programs that resonated especially well with both leaders and employees.

Here are 7 trending corporate social responsibility programs for 2023 that modern companies should consider:

1. Workplace giving and corporate matching programs

Enabling a workplace giving program is the easiest, most time-effective way to launch a campaign that aligns with corporate social responsibility best practices.

A good workplace giving program decentralizes corporate philanthropy and empowers employees to support the causes that mean the most to them, leading to a much more diverse and equitable workplace.

Building a workplace culture around giving often starts with a workplace giving program, making this a popular option for corporations who want to inject strong values into their company workforce.

Learn more about a workplace giving program

2. Support Causes through Local Partnership

Companies can partner with a nonprofit aligned with broader CSR goals as a way of making a social impact in their local community. As companies grow, their impact on local nonprofits gets larger.

Some companies, like Patagonia, start their own nonprofit to tackle the issues that directly affect their business.

Partnering with local causes is a great way to outsource the duties that come with social responsibility. One downside with partnering with local organizations is the limitations on the causes it supports and the diversity that comes with not only acknowledging but also supporting employee interests.

3. Food Drives and Donation Campaigns

Clothing drives, food drives, and other donation campaigns are amazing opportunities for employees to make an impact in someone’s life directly by giving those less fortunate the things they need to survive.

Food drives are perfect campaigns during the seasons people are in most need of aid, such as during winter.

While the popularity of these campaigns often goes up during holiday seasons, food drives and donation campaigns can be held at any time throughout the year.

4. Recycling

Just like with Apple Inc.’s recycling campaign that we mentioned earlier, companies that find a way to recycle and repurpose used materials often serve the secondary purpose of aligning themselves with a great corporate social responsibility program.

Recycling campaigns and programs not only help the environment, it can help a business’s bottom line, too.

5. Environmental

Programs that focus on preserving earth’s natural resources are excellent options for building a CSR campaign around. That’s because environmental issues affect everyone.

Companies making an effort to defend nature are making earth a better place for future generations to do business.

6. Social Impact

Causes that include fighting homelessness, offering aid to the less fortunate, or making an impact in the local community all fall under “social impact.”

These initiatives focus on helping people in one way or another, whether that’s by providing support through longer-term programs around education, job readiness, mentorship, etc, for people in need of immediate aid or assistance, through food banks, shelteres, and medical clinics.

7. Volunteer Programs

Volunteer programs are a great way to improve employee morale while providing a public service. 

Volunteer programs have historically seen much more participation rates when compared to other CSR programs.

The WSJ reports “targeted do-good efforts such as volunteering attracts nearly triple the participation rate compared to activities without such incentives.”

Read why corporate donating is often the better choice instead of volunteering.


If you’re looking for a way to become more socially responsible as a company, consider one of these seven trending corporate social responsibility programs options.

Groundswell is an affordable workplace giving program built for the modern business. We give organizations the infrastructure and tools to make it easy to empower employees to support the causes they care about during moments that matter most.

Subscribe to our newsletter and reach out to our team to learn more about Groundswell.io.

4 Tax Planning Strategies To Maximize Corporate Donations

The positive impact of corporate giving on employees and nonprofit organizations is by no means the only advantage. The considerable tax benefits of giving through a donor-advised fund (DAF) can support business health too. When an organization can minimize its tax burden through tax deductible donations, there’s a smoother path to long-term growth. Follow these four popular tax planning strategies for achieving that goal. 

1. Time Your Donations

No business operates in a bubble. External economic factors affect performance as much as internal decisions. One consequence is that annual revenue (and tax liability) is often inconsistent. There may be windfall years following rapid expansion or sale of assets, or fallow periods when investment outpaces revenue. 

One of the big advantages of donor-advised funds is that they allow a business to make several years of contributions in a windfall year, and take the tax deduction up front for that tax year. Focusing contributions on the years with greater revenue can reduce the tax liability. Although contributions cannot exceed 25% of taxable income, the excess is carried forward for a maximum of five years. Crucially, there is no minimum contribution and donations do not have to be disbursed immediately. In other words, the corporation can make the donation now to lock in the tax deductible, without having to decide on where those funds will be allocated. 

2. Avoid Capital Gains Tax

Although capital gains tax in the U.S. is relatively modest at 15% or 20%, it could be as low as 0%. Giving through donor-advised funds is one way to achieve that target — again with the possibility of taking the tax deduction upfront. 

Selling any appreciating business assets will incur capital gains tax, whether it’s the sale of a business subsidiary, real estate or stocks. Rather than losing 15% of the profits to capital gains tax, corporations can donate the assets to a DAF and still claim a tax deduction (up to 30% of adjusted gross income) at the current market value rather than the purchase price. 

That kind of prudent financial management not only builds investor confidence in a board of directors. It also leaves the business with more to invest back into the organization when assets are sold, emerging stronger, not weaker. 

3. Avoid Estate Tax

Estate planning is another area in which businesses have the potential to reduce their overall tax burden. As of 2022, any estate valued at over $12.06 million will incur estate tax, and the top rate is as high as 40%. Losing almost half the value of an estate to taxes is hardly an attractive proposition. Fortunately, assets within a donor-advised fund are not included in an inherited estate, therefore are not subject to estate tax. Corporations can remove high-growth assets from their estate by parking them in a DAF, and take the current market value deduction for the tax year in question. 

4. Bunch Your Donations

Following changes to tax law in 2017, there’s a significantly less financial incentive for donors to itemize deductions. By contrast, the standard deduction has risen from $6,350 in 2017 to $12,950 in 2022. With that shift in focus comes a clear invitation to bunch donations in a single installment, instead of making them over a number of years. Particularly where a business is close to the threshold, it now makes sense to consolidate funds into a bigger donation in one year to maximize the tax benefits, then take the standard deduction in subsequent years. 

Example: A single filer (whether business or individual) whose charitable contributions were “on the margin,” that is, nudging the $12,950 threshold annually, can now consolidate two or more years’ contributions in year one to take a larger deductible, then receive the standard $12,950 deduction in the following year. 

Effective Corporate Giving Programs With Groundswell

Groundswell offers a seamless way to make corporate donations simple. With a donor-advised fund, your business can invest the funds in the most advantageous tax circumstances without having to decide when those donations will be granted out. That is for the sponsoring organization to manage. At the same time, the business can take the immediate tax deduction to minimize the tax burden in a given year. Contact us today to see how your business can give better.

Donation Match Programs for Charitable Giving: How It Works and How To Set One Up

Donation matching is a form of corporate giving that effectively doubles employees’ contributions to causes that matter to them. The premise is simple: When an employee makes a financial donation to a charity, the company contributes a matching amount, effectively doubling the donation amount.

What Are the Benefits of Donation Matching?

The benefit of match programs for nonprofits and charities is obvious — they get double the donations for the amount of fundraising work they do. But there are also benefits for the employees and for the company. 

For corporations, donation matching is an effective, efficient way of engaging in corporate philanthropy. The company can establish guidelines for the type of organizations it will support but otherwise allow their giving to be led by employees. This type of employee-centered giving:

  • Engages workers
  • Makes them feel more empowered
  • Improves employee morale
  • Increases employee loyalty and “team spirit” 

In addition, there are benefits for the wider community, as noted in a recent research paper on corporate giving: Because employees are often closer to the community, they have a deeper view of organizations that are doing the most effective and beneficial work within that community. 

Finally, donation matching is an easy, structured way for a corporation to engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Match programs allow companies to build relationships with local organizations that are important to their employees, reaping the goodwill benefit that goes along with supporting good works in the community.

How Traditional Donation Match Programs Work

While there are slight variations, most traditional donation matching programs follow these basic steps:

  1. The employee makes a donation to an eligible organization (more on that later).
  2. They fill out a form, either on paper or electronically, that includes the details of their donation and requests that the company match their donation.
  3. The company reviews the request.
  4. If the request is approved, the company sends a check for a matching amount.

As you can see, this involves a lot of work — and control — on the part of the employer and their HR office. It also creates a number of barriers to giving:

  • Employees can only donate to organizations chosen by the employer.
  • They must fill out forms and submit them. Each year, as much as $7 billion in matching donation funds go unused, largely because employees forget to ask for the match.
  • Charities must wait for the second part of the donation, which also effectively doubles their bookkeeping burden.
  • Finally, some employees choose not to submit their donations for a match because they don’t want to reveal the causes they support to their employers. 

Groundswell Has Reimagined Donation Matching

Groundswell has totally reimagined the way that donation matching programs work. In the Groundswell model, employees have complete control over their own giving and the causes they support. Plus, the charitable organization gets the full amount of the donation all at once, and the HR department is freed up to focus on supporting staff in other important ways. 

Here’s how donation matching works the Groundswell way:

  1. Groundswell creates a Donor Advised Fund for each employee.
  2. The company can include tax-free contributions to the employee’s DAF as part of their total compensation package.
  3. The employee can allocate a portion of their pay to their DAF, with rules-based matching opportunities for the company.
  4. Employees distribute the funds in their DAF to the causes that matter to them, when and how they see fit.
  5. Charities receive the funds when and how the employee decides to make donations.
  6. Employees can track their funds, make investments, and access all the tools they need to receive the most benefit from their philanthropy.

That’s it. By removing the friction from the process, Groundswell empowers employees to give more to the causes they truly care about in a way that provides maximum benefit for themselves, their employers and the causes they support.

How To Start a Donation Matching Program

These are the key steps for starting a donation matching program at your company. 

  1. Identify your purpose and set reasonable goals. This step is often overlooked but is vital to creating a program that aligns with your company’s overall CSR strategy.
  2. Set a budget for your corporate giving.
  3. Define the guidelines for your program.
  4. Establish the process for submitting, approving and distributing matching gifts.
  5. Publicize the program to employees, charities and the community.

Typical Donation Match Guidelines

A traditional donation match program requires a lot of groundwork in advance of deploying. Groundswell simplifies the entire process, and our team will be there to help you establish sensible rules for eligibility and donation funding.

Managing It All

Managing a matching gift program can be time-consuming for the HR office, but there are ways to make it easier and more transparent for both HR and the employees. Our mobile-first app puts all the information and tools for donor-advised giving into the hands of each employee, allowing them to manage and track the benefits of their giving. Reach out to our team to learn how Groundswell can help you build and deploy an effective, engaging donation match program for your company.

10 Key Strategies for Retaining Talented Employees

Few of the 4 million U.S. students who graduate each year either want or expect a job for life. In fact, the average American employee stays with a company for just over four years, according to Bureau of Labor statistics. Churn is the sign of a healthy employment landscape, but something bigger is afoot in the current job market. More than 19 million U.S. workers have quit since April 2021 as part of the “Great Resignation.” 

For the most part, employers don’t know why they’re struggling to retain employees or how to stem the flow beyond crude employee retention strategies such as pay rises. The volatility shaping the employment landscape is about purpose, not pay. Today’s employee isn’t debating where to work, but why. Paradoxically, that’s an opportunity for employers to listen, learn and reassess how to retain employees. 

What Is Employee Retention?

We’ve already explored how leadership can stimulate employee engagement, but that’s only possible if you’re able to keep employees on the payroll in the first place. Employee retention typically refers to the proportion of existing employees who remain with the company over a standard 12-month period. Sectors with the highest employee turnover include seasonal roles (lifeguards and ski instructors), retail, food service, cashiers and hospitality. These have drawn fierce criticism recently for offering minimum wage positions with little career advancement, ultimately leading employees to vote with their feet. 

The Importance of Retaining Employees

Research by McKinsey at the height of the Great Resignation revealed that 40% of employees surveyed expected to quit their job in the next three months. Significantly, many were planning to resign without having lined up their next role. For the employee, it’s a brief moment of liberation before the reality of student loans and bills refocuses the mind, but for American businesses as a whole, $11 billion is lost every year due to employee turnover. The cost of hiring and training new employees adds up. 

Why Do Good Employees Leave?

Half of employees leave within their first two years of employment. Not all necessarily have an ax to grind, but research by PwC identified four recurring reasons why employees jump ship:

  • Salary – Many employees find they can only unlock a pay rise by switching employers. 
  • Benefits – Health coverage, pensions and child care are powerful tools employers can use to attract talent from their rivals.
  • Career advancement – Today’s fast-evolving digital landscape means that employees can quickly outgrow the skill set of their current business and will search for more challenging opportunities. 
  • Flexibility – Particularly since the pandemic, employers are looking for something more than a cubicle in a downtown office five days a week. 

How To Retain Employees: 10 Strategies from Great Companies

What are companies such as Pfizer, Verizon and Procter & Gamble doing to set them apart from other Fortune 100 companies when it comes to tempering volatility and boosting employee retention? The most effective employee retention strategies excel in the following ten areas. 

1. Onboarding and Exit Interviews

The best-valued employers have a clear, consistent process for onboarding new hires that is interactive and engaging, perhaps featuring self-service resources, for example. New arrivals are given transparent benchmarks for performance targets. 

The exit interview isn’t a lost cause when it comes to retention, however. For the employer, there’s a huge learning opportunity to discover shortcomings within the company that a current employee wouldn’t be willing to share. 

2. Set Mutual Goals 

Employees don’t want to feel as if they’re simply filling a vacancy. They want a road map, marked with SMART goals, that gives them momentum. Too many employers focus on what they need from a new employee, in terms of targets, without incorporating the element of professional development employees may be thinking about. 

3. Work/Life Balance

Research by Microsoft showed that Gen Z has more work-related problems than any other generation. It stands to reason. They’re starting their careers in a disruptive time and have to progress at a relentless rate just to keep pace with evolving technology. Employee burnout is by no means confined to the Wall Street masters of the universe. With the lines increasingly blurred between work and home, and the right to be “offline” up for challenge, employers need to show greater flexibility when it comes to accommodating their staff. 

4. Perks

A corner office or snack trolley is no longer the apogee of office perks. The most sought-after employers offer a richer variety of perks that find time and space for personal growth, whether it’s opportunities for wellness, fitness or education. These benefits should be applicable to all employees too, and incorporate family-focused perks. Patagonia, for example, offers new moms on-site child care

5. Build Company Culture

A toxic work culture is one of the biggest reasons why good people leave a company. It could be active, such as unethical behavior or bullying, or passive, such as a failure to progress on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) measures. 

A business that stands for something as a company, on the other hand, with strong values that resonate with those of its employees is more likely to retain talent. That’s the values-driven ethos behind Groundswell, making it easier for companies to offer tax-advantaged charitable giving as an employee benefit. 

6. Mentorship and Training

Even a master’s degree or MBA has an expiry date. Ambitious employees crave ongoing professional development and it should be customized to their role or needs. A team that isn’t learning will stagnate, so employers have to take the lead by offering bespoke learning opportunities. It’s not enough to attract the cream of the graduate pool. Employers need to grow their existing teams too to hold on to them. 

7. Communication

The frequency and quality of feedback can be critical in retaining employees. It doesn’t have to be restricted to the official quarterly review, which often feels like a box-ticking exercise for Human Resources. When employees feel heard, understood and nurtured, they stay. When they feel overlooked or misunderstood, they seek fresh challenges. 

8. Compensation

On average, workers gain a 10% to 20% raise in base salary by switching employers, but the number on the napkin isn’t the only factor to clinch the deal. Employees are looking for transparency when it comes to pay scales, gender equity, the opportunity to access performance-related commissions and bonuses, as well as rewards that don’t necessarily feature on the pay slip. 

9. Recognition

Organizations with formal employee recognition programs can expect around 31% less voluntary employee turnover. Unfortunately, too many employees feel paid but not valued. As many as two-thirds of American employees claim to have received no recognition whatsoever for their good work in the last year. Employers can boost retention by establishing formal programs that enable top-down and peer-to-peer gratitude and recognition. 

10. Support Flexible Working

Research from Prudential showed that 42% of American employees planned to quit if remote working was not an option. That’s the post-pandemic reality. Employers must recognize that the limitations of the office environment have been exposed and embrace the sharing of ideas and breaking down of silos across remote channels. 

Retain Your Talent

Groundswell established charitable giving as a pillar of compensation. In turn, that allows your business to attract values-driven talent and reward them with a perk that matters. To find out more about our accessible philanthropy platform, contact us today.