Thursday, January 8, 2015

Does your employer have a matching grant program for your volunteer service?

Make your volunteer service grow through
your company's matching grant program!
Back in November, one of our Meadow Rover volunteers, Rob Gronewald, contacted me to inquire about the number of hours he had worked over the summer, as his employer had just implemented a new program to donate ten dollars per hour, up to a maximum of $500, for every hour he had volunteered for a government agency under Section 170(c)(1) of the federal tax code. As it turns out, purely by coincidence he had volunteered precisely 50 hours in 2014. We checked into the process and learned that such donations are easy received by our non-profit partner, Washington's National Park Fund, on behalf of Mount Rainier National Park, and late last month I received an e-mail confirming that his company would be sending $500 to the Fund on our behalf. Hooray!

Donations made through Washington's National Park Fund, by both corporations and individuals, are vital to the success of our volunteer program. Yes, volunteers work without salary, but like all employees, they also incur costs. Their jobs require supervisors, supplies, tools, uniforms, personal protective equipment like hard hats and safety vests, vehicles and fuel to take them to work locations, housing and associated utilities, and occasionally a small per diem for long-term volunteers to help with basic living expenses. Funding for these costs comes from a variety of sources, including our general park budget, project grants, and donations through the Fund. In 2014, for example, in addition to my own salary, we received about $17,000 from the National Park Service to cover basic operations, in addition to $50,000 in general donation money from the Fund and another grant from the National Park Foundation to cover costs associated with a Student Conservation Association Community Crew. In return, we logged 57,336 hours of volunteer service, equivalent to $1.3 million worth of work by paid staff. It's a pretty good return on investment.

So an extra $500 may not sound like much, but with volunteers, it goes a long way. That'll pay for a couple of months of housing, vehicle costs, or per diem for a long-term volunteer. It'll buy a few dozen volunteer shirts and caps, or enough field supplies to outfit a full season of Citizen Science volunteers. We are tremendously grateful to Rob, and to Tesoro Corporation, for their financial support, in addition, of course, to the 50 hours Rob spent out on the trail!

Tesoro's matching grant is managed by YourCause, LLC through a program called Dollars for Doers. A quick Google search reveals many companies who participate in similar programs: Capital One, Chevron, Verizon, State Farm, Microsoft, AMD, IBM, Xcel Energy, Kohl's, ExxonMobil, Coinstar, Redbox, ConocoPhillips, Aetna, Dell, RealNetworks, Allstate, Time Warner, Prudential, Alliant Energy, and many more. Other companies operate similar matching grant programs independently or through other organizations.

This year, consider making your volunteer service go even further! Check with your company and see if they participate in a matching grant program. If so, contact me at Kevin_Bacher [at], and Laurie Ward at Washington's National Park Fund at Laurie [at], to make the arrangements, and start tracking your time!

1 comment:

KayakGary said...

I work for Uncle Sam as a civilian at Fort Lewis Washington, I wonder if the Army has matching funds they can donate for my volunteer service? I'm going to ask the Commander in the morning!

Gary Ouellette
Fort Lewis, Washington