Employees move mountains through grantmaking committees

Employee grantmaking committees are a great way to engage employees in corporate grantmaking activities. In 2014, The Conference Board conducted a study of 53 US companies regarding their employee grantmaking committees. The study found that 34% of companies utilized employee grantmaking committees to disburse at least some of their grants. These types of committees provide employees with the opportunity to review grant applications, make grant decisions, and impact the community in a positive way.

Why would a company engage their employees in the grantmaking process?

(1) Build leadership skills

When employees participate on grant committees, they have a unique voice within the company. They are recognized beyond their professional abilities for their civic knowledge, and they have the opportunity to serve as a leader for their fellow employees and their community. When an employee feels empowered in the workplace, they are engaged and produce quality work.

(2) Receive buy-in from employees for corporate funding

When your employees are involved in the decision process for grants, they feel connected to your social mission. It’s difficult to receive support from your employees when corporate giving is dictated based upon C-level opinions on funding. When employees are part of the process, social responsibility becomes embedded in your company’s culture.

(3) Effectively respond to the needs of community members

Your employees are involved in the communities in which your company operates. They are active in their neighborhood associations, churches, and schools. They have an understanding of social issues, and they are passionate about causes and issues. When employees are active in the grant process, they will choose charities and projects that will solve a social issue that is present in the community.

How do you recruit employees to join grantmaking committees?

According to the 2014 The Conference Board study, the companies surveyed utilized a variety of tactics to recruit employees to join grantmaking committees including applications, nominations, and assignments. Nominations are a great way to reward and recognize employees for their civic engagement.

What proportion of company dedicated funds do employee grantmaking committees distribute?

This amount can vary. In The Conference Board study, ⅓ of the companies indicated that the employee grantmaking committees disburse 5% or less of the budget. Twenty-seven percent of the companies surveyed indicated that employee grantmaking committees can disburse over 15% of the budget.

Which companies have employee grantmaking committees?


Nike’s Community Impact Fund (NCIF) engages employees voluntarily in grantmaking. Since 2010, this committee has contributed over $3.2 million to organizations based in and around Nike’s headquarters in Oregon. These contributions benefit organizations that promote youth sports and physical activity. In 2016, they expanded the program to include the communities of all Nike Community Stores.

Nike Community Impact Fund Good Done Great

Nike recognizes the importance of including individuals from diverse backgrounds on grant committees as this allows for better decision-making. (You can learn more about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the grant process here.)

You can read more about the impact and process of NCIF here.

Ben & Jerry’s

Ben & Jerry’s is always on the forefront of social responsibility and civic engagement. In 1991, the trustees of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation elected to allow employees the opportunity to review grant requests.

Ben & Jerry’s believes that employees are best suited to respond to the needs of the community; therefore, they created Community Action teams at each site and the Employee Grantmaking Committee.

Employee grantmaking committees effortlessly combine employee engagement and corporate giving. Employees feel empowered and proud to select organizations that not only align with their personal passions but also their company’s work. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Employees have the ability to enact change, and provided the platform, they can move mountains.