By Adrienne Erin
Whether it’s a bear or bull market, corporate giving is destined to charge straight ahead. It may alter in form and intensity to match the tenor of the times, but being generous is more complex than merely feeling good about it.
Charitable fundraising provides vital support to the economy’s non-profit sector, which in turn plays its own unique role in keeping the nation, and the world, running smoothly. Giving back also enhances your community profile outside of your direct network. As a result, you may attract new clients from unexpected places.
Most importantly, for you and your team, paying it forward in the workplace pays dividends in terms of enhanced employee performance and engagement. This fact often remains the most overlooked and underreported, but the reverse should be true.
Understand the Value in Workplace Giving
Workers who give their time and money through workplace giving or volunteer programs do two things:
- They perform more effectively.
- They identify more strongly with the company’s overall vision.
One recent study showed a 13 percent jump in productivity among workers whose employers consulted and included them in their company’s philanthropic initiatives. And companies could see a 15 percent increase in productivity if they offer charitable gifts as employee rewards.
Experts advise that volunteering time for a cause is equally valuable. It provides staffers with great leadership opportunities, as well as more teamwork and mentorship opportunities.
If you’re worried that the drain on employees’ time will lead to business loss, know that the opposite is true. A statistical correlation can be drawn between high productivity, higher profits and pro bono work. And perhaps best of all: donating time and money to non-profit causes has also been proven to increase staff recruitment and retention.
Make Sure Your Company Measures Up
Successful workplace giving programs adopt an integrated approach to fundraising to motivate more staffers to get on board. Whether you lead a Fortune 500 company or a startup just a few minutes off the ground, there are myriad ways of giving to suit your company’s vision and budget. Consider the following tips:
1. Ask your human resources team. The HR team can help you launch a corporate social responsibility (CSR) plan. HR either already knows what your employees care about or they can quickly find out. If you let the HR team know you count on them, you’ll automatically wind up with more heads in the game, and they may even turn cartwheels to wow you.
2. Empower local managers to help lead community fundraising efforts. Local managers are members of their communities and thereby more invested in outcomes from the start. They may also seem more accessible and less intimidating to employees on the front lines of fundraising. As you trust managers to lead, you boost their level of engagement, again boosting performance as well.
3. Ask your marketing team to leverage social media. In so doing, you personally acknowledge the importance of your marketing team. Take it a step further and have HR launch a social media sharing contest among staffers. Be sure to personally recognize the efforts of top sharers.
4. Directly solicit employee feedback about causes that matter to them. Do this on a one-on-one basis if you can, and back up your promises with matching funds. Extending the giving season past the holidays provides employees with more opportunities to interact with you, contribute ideas, and reconnect with your vision for the company.
5. Embrace generational differences. Long-term employees may prefer to donate their money over their time and labor; younger, newer employees are often more open to donating time or pro-bono work. Be sure to publically praise everyone who helps in any way.
6. Offer matching gift programs. Many major companies offer them, and it offers a greater incentive for employees to help a cause that’s important to them.
7. Make giving a part of your brand’s identity. Take the example of digital marketer WebpageFX which turns to the web to promote workplace giving, an integral part of the company’s overall brand. Each employee’s individual goals and accomplishments leads to a donation towards the larger goal, to build a school in Ghana.
8. Make it a competition. The Nerdery, for example, offers pro-bono services through its popular overnight website challenges. In real time, these Nerdery challenges unite competing webpage design firms to donate their expertise to non-profits in need. So far the Nerdery and its competitors have donated more than $5 million in pro bono services.
9. Donate your expertise. Some companies volunteer their time and expertise instead of sending money. Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Target, IBM, and Deloitte are a few that exercise this option. In tighter times, it’s a good way to stay within your comfort zone. Plus, when employees volunteer time on a project together, they often enjoy a heightened sense of teamwork and morale, which they will likely bring back to the office.
10. Share your products. Organizations like Good360 are specifically designed to match givers with those in need. There’s a lengthy roster of do-gooders that includes Gap, Home Depot, Costco, Mattel, Crayola, and many more.
11. Challenge the masses. Everyone can get behind fundraising for research to help cure deadly diseases. The ALS Association raised millions through its ice bucket challenge. The challenge between the Caterpillar CEO and its leading distributor Empire CAT was inexpensive to launch, easy to promote, fun to watch, and rallied more troops to the cause.
12. Reward employees. Entice your employees to make donations by giving them a branded, personalized corporate charity gift card.
13. Check out crowdsourcing platforms. If this all seems a little overwhelming, check out crowdsourcing platforms such as Givelocity, Razoo, StartSomeGood, CrowdRise and PushPay. Worst case scenario is you’ll find ideas; best case scenario is you’ll receive the help you seek.
Remember that every time you launch a fundraiser or matching fund drive, it’s a chance to interact with your workers, praise their efforts, and discover what they care about. It’s also a way to heighten their engagement and productivity.
Sure, giving involves some sacrifice, but here’s the take away: companies with motivated, engaged employees earn 2.5 times more revenues than those without. With a history of workplace giving, you will attract and retain the best employees.