Last year Vincent Stevens's church ran an experiment: 10 members were each given $100 to help their communities. Some gave the money away; others used it as seed capital to raise thousands more.
Stevens, a partner in accounting firm Clark Nuber, wondered what would happen if his company did something similar. To find out, the company launched Caring, Serving and Giving, a program that lets employees apply for grants of up to $500 to fund community service projects.
The first grant went to senior auditor Hillary Parker, 27. She and a colleague used the cash to turn a local St. Patrick's Day run into a charity fund-raiser that netted $750 to build two pools for rehabilitating marine mammals caught in oil spills.
"I don't think this would have happened without the seed fund," Parker says.