Companies were challenged to raise more than £100m for good causes through payroll giving at last Monday's launch of the Payroll Giving Quality Mark.
Mark Neale, managing director of budget, tax and welfare at the Treasury, set the target. He said the quality mark scheme was designed to encourage more employers to foster a culture of giving in the workplace.
The scheme awards gold marks to employers who achieve 10 per cent employee participation, silver to those with 5 per cent and bronze for those with 1 per cent. The levels have been set to provide incentives for businesses of all sizes.
Gold award recipients such as the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Royal Mail Group and a small risk management company, the Z/yen Group, all said they welcomed the scheme.
Ian Harris, managing director of Z/yen, said: "It doesn't need many small and medium-sized enterprises to do this and it would add up to an awful lot for the charities."
Fiona Mactaggart, minister at the Home Office, called on businesses to surpass the £83m raised last year in order to give charities a predictable source of income.
The Payroll Giving Quality Mark is government-funded and administered and is promoted by the Institute of Fundraising.