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Newsletter: How to double the power of your social justice donation

A sign with an image of George Floyd
A sign featuring an image of George Floyd is displayed during a protest in Minneapolis.
(Christine T. Nguyen / Minnesota Public Radio)

Good morning. I’m Rachel Schnalzer with the Los Angeles Times business section’s weekly newsletter, which aims to help you navigate the financial and work-related challenges of this chaotic time.

Since a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, many people have been looking for ways to give to social justice and civil rights organizations such as the NAACP, Minnesota Freedom Fund, American Civil Liberties Union and more.

To amplify your donation, consider using a company match program. Business reporting intern Taylor Avery and I explored the ins and outs.

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What are corporate gift matching programs?

It’s a way for companies and employees to team up on charitable giving. The details vary from company to company, but when workers donate to nonprofits, the employer donates an equal amount — or sometimes more — to the same organizations.

Some employers run such programs year-round; others have temporary ones. Dawoon Kang, the co-founder and co-CEO of dating app Coffee Meets Bagel, recently offered to personally match employees’ donations to the social justice or equal rights-promoting organizations of their choosing. She gave her workers a two-week window to make these donations. “I felt really passionately that we as a company need to take action. We’re not profitable right now, so I decided … that personally matching the employee donation would be the best way for us to express our support,” Kang said.

Not all companies with these programs publicize them. So if you’re not sure about your employer, it’s worth asking.

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How are people maximizing their company’s match program?

Some companies are willing to match very large donations, more than their typical employee is in a position to give. On average, only a quarter of a company’s match budget is used, said economist Una Osili, associate dean for research and international programs at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

So some workers are inviting friends, relatives and even strangers to donate through them and see the money multiplied by the company match.

Google matches donations of up to $10,000 per employee per year. Jimmy Ramirez, an account manager at Google, teamed up with his sister Vanessa Ramirez, an artist, on a money-raising campaign this spring.

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To encourage friends and family to give through Jimmy’s company match, Vanessa offered to create drawings for donors. Within two days of putting the call out on social media, the siblings raised more than $6,000 — which the match turned into more than $12,000 — for the Equal Justice Initiative and NAACP’s ACT-SO Program.

Not all company match programs smile on crowdsourced donations, but many are at least quiet on the issue. Ally Greer, an employee at software firm Autodesk, has raised $1,700 by asking others via Twitter and Instagram to donate money through her company’s program. “I checked with our policy ... they said that as long as the donation is fully in my name, it’s allowed,” she said.

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What is anti-racism? Adrienne Shih put together a primer, along with tips about actions you can take.

For night-shift workers, curfews can be costly. Suhauna Hussain reports on how many essential workers have struggled to get to and from work while curfews were in place.

— “No, white people. You can’t ease your guilt over racism by paying black people via Cash App.”: Columnist Erika D. Smith explains the misguided messages some black people have received from their white acquaintances and offers her suggestions.

— Many black-owned businesses in L.A. say they’re open and looking for support. Here’s a list of fashion, beauty, home and design, and gardening businesses compiled by Adam Tschorn and Lisa Boone.

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— Don’t feel like cooking this week? There are more than 200 black-owned food businesses in L.A. Food writer Jenn Harris describes how the list came to be.

Is flying safe during the coronavirus outbreak? Hugo Martin explains what experts have to say.

Reader question

A reader asked us: TV commercials make it seem like insurance companies are being so “understanding” about the virus situation and will provide rebates to customers because we are driving less. Was this something they were mandated by the government to do?

Times newsletter strategy editor Sam Schulz tackled this one. She explains:

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It’s mandatory in California. In April, state Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara ordered car insurance companies to issue partial refunds because the drop in traffic had reduced the risk of accidents. The order was later extended to include the month of May. Insurers are supposed to provide the refunds by Aug. 11.

Here’s something you can do to reduce your car insurance payments further if you haven’t already: Insurance companies use your average distances driven per year to calculate your premiums. If you are driving less because of the pandemic, contact your insurer and provide an updated estimate of how many miles you now drive, based on your new habits, and when those new habits began. I personally did this, since most of us at the L.A. Times are now working from home, and it reduced my premiums by nearly half.

One more thing

If you earned too much money last year to qualify for the federal government’s coronavirus stimulus check but your income is taking a hit this year, there may be a silver lining. Certified financial planner Liz Weston explains how filing your 2020 tax return could generate your stimulus.

Have a question about work, business or finances during the COVID-19 pandemic, or tips for coping that you’d like to share? Send us an email at californiainc@latimes.com, and we may include it in a future newsletter.


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