This article examines matching donation programs offered by various employers. It also provides advice on how an employee can determine whether a donation program is being offered and how to take advantage of it.

With Christmas approaching quickly, now is the perfect time to make donations to charitable organizations in your area. It may be possible to juice up your donations even more if your employer is offering a matching donation program. These matching gifts are grants provided by an employer to match an employees' charitable contribution. Most programs offer dollar-for-dollar matching donations, according to, but some also provide double and triple donation programs.

Carl Pitruzzello, director of advancement services at the University of New Haven, spoke highly of matching gift programs in a recent interview with

"In the United States, roughly 10 percent of all corporate philanthropy is through matching gifts, and about one in every 10 gifts to a nonprofit is eligible for a match," Pitruzzello said. "Most corporations will match gifts made by their employees to institutions of higher education, hospitals, health-services organizations and other less-controversial non-profits."

While donation procedures may vary from company to company, the only way to find out what program your employer offers is to go and ask. The first thing to do is head to your company's human resources department and see whether a matching donation program is offered. If so, request a list of guidelines and eligible charities or non-profit organizations included in the program. You will need to fill out any required forms before making your donation. You'll also want to determine how much you feel comfortable donating. With an employee matching program, you can really make a huge difference in the lives of others so it's best to take advantage of this program and make the biggest impact possible.

When discussing the donation program with your employer, you may want to see if different matching levels are offered according to your method of donation - such as check, credit card or money order. If your company does not offer a matching donation program, consider asking the human resources manager or the president of the company if one can be started. Asking never hurts and you may be able to launch an initiative that could do a world of good simply by asking a single question. If all else fails, ask whether they will match employee donations on an individual basis, rather than implementing a new program.

Aside from making your own donations, you should also encourage your fellow employees to make contributions of their own - especially if a matching donation program is being offered. While the matching program is a great altruistic tool, it loses its value if no one takes advantage of it. So rally your co-workers and make charitable giving a priority this holiday season. You could even start a friendly office pool to see which department can make the biggest donation.