What is a Corporate Donor-Advised Fund?


Nearly nine-in-10 (86%) Americans expect companies to do more than just make a profit – they should also address social and environmental issues. And 74% of Americans say that their job is more fulfilling when they are given the opportunity to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues.

The numbers don’t lie – it’s clear that the public likes to see companies give back, even more so when their own employers empower them to do it on their own. More than ever, companies of all sizes are turning to a cost-effective and meaningful solution to meet this need: corporate donor-advised funds.

Corporate Donor-Advised Funds Are Also Known As Corporate Foundations
Corporate donor-advised funds are sometimes referred to as corporate charitable savings accounts, corporate charitable funds, and corporate foundations – just to name a few. Like a donor-advised fund used by an individual, corporate donor-advised funds allow companies to invest money in an account dedicated solely to charitable giving, and then use that money to make a difference in the community.

Corporate foundations provide an easy and efficient way for businesses of all sizes to give back to their communities. We know that business owners and leaders understand the value of giving their employees the opportunity to give back, but they might not know just how easy it is to stand taller in their community with the help of corporate charitable funds.

Is my company big enough for a corporate foundation?
Organizations of all sizes can reap the benefits of a corporate donor-advised fund. Whether your company has 10 or 10,000 employees, a corporate foundation can make a big impact in the lives of your employees and in the lives of those you’d be helping. Corporate foundations not only make it clear to your employees that you care about the community but also to your clients and the public. Almost 90% of Americans say that they would switch brands to one that is associated with a good cause, given similar price and quality – an increase of 23% in the last quarter century.

For companies that have locations spread out across the United States or even across the globe, corporate foundations help to facilitate a company-wide mindset of philanthropy and giving back. The notion of helping others transcends all time zones, language barriers and geographic distances.

What kind of organizations can I help with a corporate donor-advised fund?
As the creator and advisor of the fund, you, your management team, or a committee can determine the guidelines for the kinds of nonprofit organizations your corporate charitable fund will support. With a corporate foundation, your company or your employees can donate or grant to any 501(c)(3) public charity in the United States.

Many companies choose to use their corporate donor-advised fund to support charities and causes their employees are passionate about through an employee matching gift program. Others set guidelines that align with the company’s mission or values. Some focus their giving on specific organizations connected to that company’s industry. The options are endless.

Appealing to Millennial Employees with Charitable Benefits

The employees of today’s evolving workforce expect a robust benefits package – including a strong focus on philanthropy and giving back. The majority of millennials (76%) consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work. More than half of Americans won’t take a job from a company that does not have strong corporate social responsibility practices. Executives, HR professionals and decision-makers in businesses across the country use corporate donor-advised funds not only to make a difference in the community but also to recruit and retain the best talent.

How are corporate donor-advised funds funded and administered?
A corporate foundation can be sustained with a one-time donation or through recurring donations. Your corporate charitable giving dollars will be managed either by Greater Horizons’ investment committee or by your own financial advisor.

With a long list of available services and an expert staff to guide and help you, a corporate donor-advised fund will be the perfect addition to your existing corporate giving program or a great place to start. Many organizations establish a corporate donor-advised fund as the overarching umbrella of their corporate giving efforts and then implement smaller, more detailed giving programs to meet the needs and desires of their employees and the community.

The most popular services for businesses are outlined below. Additional services include scholarship funds, competitive grantmaking, managing in-kind donation programs, assistance identifying company-wide volunteer opportunities, volunteer tracking, and strategic planning assistance. More information on all available services can be found on Greater Horizons’ website.

Matching Gift Programs
A matching gift is a charitable donation that is tied to a separate contribution to the same nonprofit by another donor, in this case, an employee. Matched gifts of both money and volunteer time not only encourage employees to invest in their local communities and neighborhoods, but also show that businesses value their employee’s passions and interests.

Disaster Relief
When natural disaster strikes, it is imperative that relief efforts are efficient and timely. Online donation collection and distribution through a corporate donor-advised fund ensures that the right aid makes it to the right places and people. And, when a group of people come together to help others in need, it elevates the sense of collaboration and teamwork.

Greater Horizons Can Guide Your Organization
The scope of services offered to Greater Horizons’ corporate clients reaches far and wide. Our expert staff work closely with each organization to tailor their goals to fit the company’s culture and financial capacity.

Greater Horizons provides the most comprehensive offering of expertise, products and services in the marketplace today, making charitable dollars work harder and smarter for businesses of all sizes. Establishing a corporate foundation, developing custom giving programs to meet your company’s needs, and outsourcing the backend logistics to Greater Horizons lets you focus on what matters – building and sustaining a culture of philanthropy throughout your organization.

Interested in setting up a corporate donor-advised fund or learning more about Greater Horizons’ services? Contact LaVon Colhour at colhour@greaterhorizons.org or 816.627.3400.


2018 Cone/Porter Novelli Porter Study: How to Build Deeper Bonds, Amplify Your Message and Expand Your Consumer Base:

  • Nearly nine-in-ten (88%) of Americans feel companies have a responsibility to demonstrate that they are operating in a way that is aligned with their purpose in society.
  • More than three-quarters (78%) of Americans believe it is no longer acceptable for companies to just make money, they expect companies to positively impact society as well.
  • More than two-thirds (68%) of Americans say that they want to work for a purpose-driven company.
  • Compared to older generations, millennials are prouder to associate with purpose-driven brands (51% vs. 32% of Gen X vs. 41% of Baby Boomers.)

2017 Cone Communications Corporate Social Responsibility Study:

  • Nearly nine-in-10 (86%) Americans expect companies to do more than make a profit – they should also address social and environmental issues.
  • When a company supports a social or environmental issue, consumers say they:
    • Have a more positive image of the company (92%)
    • Would be more likely to trust the company (87%)
    • Would be more loyal to the company (88%)
  • Nearly nine-in-10 Americans (89%) would switch brands to one that associated with a good cause, given similar price and quality. (In 1993 this was only 66%.)
  • Nearly eight-in-10 Americans (79%) seek out products that are socially or environmentally responsible.

2016 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study:

  • 75% of Millennials say they would take a pay cut to work for a responsible company (vs. 55% U.S. average).
  • 83% of Millennials would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues (vs. 70% U.S. average).
  • 88% of Millennials say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues (vs. 74% U.S. average).
  • 76% of Millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work (vs. 58% U.S. average)
  • 64% of Millennials won’t take a job from a company that doesn’t have strong corporate social responsibility practices (vs. 51% U.S. average)

Authored by: Ashley Hawkins, Content Specialist