goBeyondProfit CEO Interview: Stephen Kump, CEO of Charityvest


Friday, November 18th, 2022

The case for helping employees experience the joy of giving

Leading up to Giving Tuesday, this goBeyondProfit interview with Charityvest CEO Stephen Kump outlines how supporting your employees’ individual giving is an easy way for businesses of every size to join with their employees to do good in the world.

Individual giving is so personal, what is the business case for helping employees give? Why is giving the business of business?

Ultimately, whether we are talking about an individual or a company, we are all telling a story about our life, what we value and how we want to be known. Giving is a powerful opportunity to amplify a company story but the missing opportunity right now seems to be in helping employees tell their personal story through giving.  And so, there are two levels of opportunity for a company. Giving can be a demonstration of company values, but companies can also help employees experience the joy of giving.

When a company gives and helps their employees give, they are helping everyone in their sphere tell a richer story about who they are.

Overcoming the barriers to giving – the birth of Charityvest

The hardest thing about giving is the initial decision to give. Now that sounds like the most obvious statement ever but it’s because of all the dependencies that come with the decision to give: what organization, how much, which program, when to give. And then there’s the major question of how is this going to affect my financial life.

From what I’ve seen, the best way to experience the joy of giving is to start with a simple mental model where you look at your income or assets and do some simple division. You earmark a portion of your financial life for the intention of giving. Once you make that decision, if you put those earmarked funds in a tax-free giving account you now have time to figure out all the other the particulars. Your funds sit in your giving account until you’re ready. It can grow over time and then, when the opportunity to give comes along, the money is readily available. The next logical decisions about where to give become a completely joyful process.

I am captured by the vision of making giving accounts available to everyone.

What are easy employee-giving programs any size company can implement?

Many people have heard of matching gift programs. What they might not realize is that giving accounts make matching gifts drop-dead easy. For instance with a Charity Vest giving account, an employee can put money into their account in seconds, request a match by checking a box and then the money flows to the charity of their choice. On the backend, a company simply sets up a few parameters to fully automate the process. It’s a frictionless process for everyone involved. 

Another great idea that’s gaining momentum is a stipend program where companies simply put a set amount of money into their employees’ giving account for them to give away as they please. No matching coordination needed. This new type of employee giving is having outrageous success. Typically it's smaller dollar amounts but when you put $20 in an employees’ giving account with no strings attached, we're seeing 50-70% participation rate. Through these employee giving programs a company is simply saying to their employees, “We value you and want to join you in the good you do in the world.”

More good news — if for some reason an employee doesn’t want to participate in a company’s giving program, Charityvest ensures unused contributions automatically roll right back to the company so zero dollars get caught in charitable limbo.

Can a giving account be an alternative structure to a corporate foundation?

Absolutely. Let’s say you like the idea of a traditional corporate foundation but don’t want to deal with ongoing complexities or you don’t have the bandwidth for something so time consuming.  In small companies, a giving program is a fraction of a fraction of somebody’s job. We’ve designed our platform accordingly — easy to set up and fully automated — because you’ve got a business to run. In 90 seconds you can set up a free basic company giving account that holds your tax-free funds for your distribution when and how you like. You can then leverage this account as the nexus of whatever giving programs you choose to do with your employees, whether that’s matching or stipends.

While we have you…tell me about this new leadership trend that’s dramatically impacting company culture?

I’m seeing many more leaders step forward and make commitments to radical giving as an expression of their company values.

One example is Melanie Perkins and Cliff Albrecht of Canva who recently raised a very large round of capital valuing their company at over $40 billion. The founders still have a significant ownership stake and pledged to give away the majority of their holdings. They didn’t make a public show but wrote a very thoughtful memo that positioned this pledge as an expression not just of them as founders, but as an expression of what Canva aspires to be as an organization. They put emphasis on the point that Canva exists not just to create wealth but to create impact on the world.

A pledge like that does not have a neutral impact on a company’s culture.

Another example is Casey Crawford, CEO of Movement Mortgage. Their mission as a company is to love people, period. He donated the majority of his company to his company foundation which now sponsors an unlimited match to its employees. 

These leaders are trying to have an impact on the world that’s not neutral. They have chosen these defining expressions of philanthropy and leadership that challenge all of us who lead companies. 

At Charityvest we want to come alongside leaders and be a new tool in the toolbox of generous leaders.