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August 05, 2004
50 Years of Matching Gifts

The corporation that claims to have created the first matching-gifts program for employees is marking the program's 50th anniversary.

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The General Electric Company says its GE Foundation created the first matching gift program in 1954, as a way for employees and the corporation to team up and leverage their charitable donations. Since then, more than 7,500 other corporations have followed suit, generating more than $1 billion annually in matching gifts to colleges, universities, and other nonprofit institutions.

Originally, the GE Foundation focused on supporting higher education. But in 1984, it expanded the program to allow matching gifts for community-based organizations in such areas as the arts, the environment, and social services. This year, the Foundation will match more than $18 million in donations to community organizations and institutions of higher learning, according to GE. It has matched $200 million in gifts since the creation of the program.

GE employees and retirees can have their gifts matched dollar-for-dollar through either the Higher Education Matching Gifts Program or the Community Matching Gifts Program.

"By motivating the philanthropic engagement of our employee base, we are applying the best of who we are as a company to make a difference in the communities where we live and work," GE said in a press release. "As we reflect upon the past 50 years and the milestones that have been reached, we look forward to continuing our partnerships to respond to the pressing needs of schools and organizations in the 50 years to come."

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