It's giving season and companies are finding more ways to effectively give back over the holidays and into 2016. Thanks to new technology and the philanthropic nature of many tech startups, giving is getting easier for individuals and companies. Consider these ways to make giving part of your business in the New Year.

1. Make it easy to match donations.

Tech companies large and small are encouraging employees to donate to causes they care about. Then, companies match a percentage of that donation. Matching itself isn't a new concept for companies, but technology has greatly improved it. Instead of filling out tedious forms each month, quarter or year, employees and companies can streamline this process by creating a matching page or portal to automatically match funds on a regular basis.

"When we talk to new corporate partners about their employee giving, one of the common complaints is employees aren't applying for an employer match on their donations to 501c3 organizations. They know that reducing friction in employee giving and matching is critical as their organization follows the trend of letting employees drive their philanthropic footprint," explained Kaitlin Reimann, Co-Founder and CEO of uBack. "By simplifying the employer match process, employee participation in matching has increased by 300% within uBack. These employer matched funds have made a meaningful impact on local communities across the country."

2. Volunteer tech skills, as individuals or a company.

More and more skills-based volunteering is taking over tech companies large and small. A great way to give back is by offering up the talents you're already using in the workplace. Nonprofit organizations, schools and charities need tech services just like any other company, but do not have the funds to hire full-time, qualified staff. By lending skills on a project-basis and working as a team to give back a portion of your hours each month or year, organizations benefit, teams grow stronger and the community becomes a better, more tech-savvy environment.

"Letting your employees volunteer also gives them an opportunity to have a break from the routine of everyday work," says Angela Ruth, CMO of Due.com. "Not only do they get a chance to contribute to a cause, they also learn valuable insights and fresh perspectives that they can use to improve the way they work."

3. Give employees a voice.

When it comes time for quarterly or yearly giving, companies ask their employees what they care about. By involving employees in the decision process, companies are encouraging individual giving and strengthening the loyalty and respect of current employees. Depending on the size of the company, staff, and funds available, management can survey employees and either divvy up the funds among several top organizations or hold a competition to determine the cause that benefits. Ask employees to make a case for their favorite charity and vote.

"Organizing or participating in special events can be a good icebreaker for any organization," says John Russell, Co-Founder of RegFox. "It helps improve team dynamics, especially when decision-making is involved. In addition, it can also help establish strengths and capabilities from your colleagues that you may not have known otherwise."

4. Donate products or a portion of sales.

In 2016, there are so many ways to give beyond money and time. For every so many products sold, donate one to individuals or nonprofits in need. Offering products or services at a discount for each unit sold at market value is another way to increase your impact and make valuable technology available to social enterprises.

For example, Tal Frankfurt is the Founder and CEO of Cloud for Good and he said, "I believe that those committed to creating a positive change in the world should have access to the best people, technology, and funds. With so much good already happening in our communities I started our corporate social responsibility program to help these 'do gooders' be more effective in achieving their missions. We volunteer 1% of our employee time and donate 1% of our profits and products to strengthen our communities and help them prosper."

5. Challenge employees, friends and other companies to give.

Once employees or a company gives, challenge others to donate as well. Just as we use social media to brag about purchases or awesome customer service, let others know you've given and to whom. It helps the organization gain attention it may not otherwise have and it's excellent CSR for your company. Consider challenging a partner company to raise money in the office during a given period of time and then each give to a charity of your choice at the end. Spouses, friends and family can contribute to the pot, too.

Whatever the capacity of your team and company, there are ways to make giving back fun, simple and effective. Find what works for you or create a new way to impact the community as you grow.

Published on: Dec 1, 2015