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Increase Employee Engagement with a Corporate Giving Strategy

Jan 27, 2016

Pleasing today’s workforce is not an easy task. Every month Gallup reports on workforce engagement numbers and U.S. engagement, though it has slowly increased from previous years. With the latest report showing 70% of the US workforce is still disengaged, employee engagement is still a top priority. Growing research suggests one solution to this problem: a corporate giving strategy. So, how much can it really improve employee engagement? And, how can it be done? Well, glad you asked…

Why a Corporate Giving Strategy?

  1. Employees are motivated by companies who align themselves with a cause.
  2. Corporate giving can be a valuable recruiting tool.
  3. A corporate giving strategy can be more easily communicated to stakeholders.
  4. Millennials, one of the largest demographics in the workplace, want to be connected to a cause “larger than themselves.”
  5. It can increase your current employee engagement.

Employees today have a wide range of values and expectations when it comes to their career. They are less driven by money and are more receptive to career growth and development opportunities which is probably why Pro Bono Service is the fastest-growing corporate volunteer program, according to the CECP’s 2015 Giving in Numbers study.

The workforce wants to make a difference and that difference can be made through a corporate giving strategy. In fact, the benefits of doing so go beyond employee engagement. In a recent comprehensive report conducted by IO Sustainability, the presence of corporate philanthropy efforts can (just to name a few):

What’s more is this study is one of the first to shed light on the corporate benefits linked to philanthropy programs, providing a foundation for future pioneers of cutting edge corporate philanthropy programs.

What does a Corporate Giving Strategy entail?

  1. Multiple giving opportunities for employees
  2. Both monetary and volunteer opportunities
  3. Giving opportunities should align with corporate values
  4. It should include some matching from the company
  5. A corporate giving strategy should have a comprehensive communication plan

A well-rounded corporate giving strategy should include various types of giving to attract a broader set of employees. Monetary giving programs as well as giving time through volunteering give your employees more to choose from depending on their needs and availability. For example, your more experienced, busy or higher compensated employees might opt for matching gifts, whereas employees with less disposable income or those looking for a break from the office will jump at a team volunteering day!

There are plenty of diverse and meaningful employee giving programs for employers to choose from, and it doesn’t have to be just one. In fact, in 2014 companies offered an average of five programs for domestic employees and three for international employees. Some of the most common (and successful) employee giving programs to include in your corporate giving strategy are:

Corporate Giving Program: Company Wide Day of Service

This program highly impacts employee engagement which is why it’s the most successful volunteer program, driving increases in total volunteer hours year after year. It’s also a great way to encourage team building and reinforce company values. In fact, the CECP reports that 54% of companies in their 2016 survey offered a company-wide Day of Service volunteer program. Of those companies, 80% consider it the most successful volunteer program within their CSR strategy.

Company-wide service days are a specified amount of time/shifts set aside by the employer and meant to encourage the workforce to volunteer within the community. It’s a rallying event, transcending departments and organizational levels, focusing all employees on a common cause. Popularity stems from the ability to work alongside coworkers (physically or otherwise) while following a program built to make a positive impact on the local, national or global community. That time together is great personal and internal employee relationship development, two things pivotal for developing a healthy company culture.

Corporate Giving Program: Matching Gifts or Donation Matching Program

Recognized as an integral strategic corporate program, matching gift programs or donation matching programs, are offered by 88% of companies worldwide. Implementing a matching gift program is easy with the right system in place. By creating a broad selection of charities for your employees to choose from, local, national and international, you can increase participation. Studies show that when employees are free to give to the charity of their choice, they give more rather than charities imposed on them by their company.

Remember: Sometimes moving employees toward a common cause can feel very difficult, but it’s far less so when you give them a cause, a goal and a time limit. Giving campaigns allow for all three! Operating a giving campaign doesn’t have to be like the old days - a poster with a thermometer posted in the breakroom, no one really sure how much money they made from the bake sale and everyone a little confused as the charity their hard earned cash was going toward. Today’s giving campaigns are automated, software enabled, easily communicated via email, social and company intranet and completely compliant and safe.

To note: The benefits of a great giving campaign? It’s generous (meaning match as much as you can employers), it is payroll-enabled (it’s a lot easier to be generous when you’ve just received your check) and gives employees a wide range of choices. ## Corporate Giving Program: Paid release time

Today’s workforce is driven by self-improvement, which makes paid release time a wonderful employee giving program. Giving employees the choice to give back on the company’s time means they don’t have to worry about missing out on any volunteer activities because of a busy work schedule. It also sheds favorable light on the company for accommodating the workforce for the sake of giving back.

Consider this before incorporate paid release into your corporate giving strategy:

  1. Ensure your program is properly administered and someone is on hand to handle the the requirement of requesting and approving paid time off. The last thing a great volunteering program needs is someone not playing by the rules.
  2. To avoid understaffing in specific departments, ensure that manager approval is involved. This ensures that both the company needs and employee needs are met. But caution managers not to squelch PTO requests for volunteer work.
  3. Consider combining your volunteer paid time off policy with a program that is near and dear to the organization (if your company has its own charity or non-profit arm, for example) or one that is meaningful to employees (smaller towns may have schools where many employees’ children attend that can use the volunteer hours).
  4. Build in a “disaster relief” clause that allows for employees to go without sufficient notice to assist during a time of crisis (Hurricane, earthquake, tornado, et al).

Corporate Giving Program: Pro Bono Service

Engaging employees in Pro Bono Service volunteering not only directly involves them with the nonprofits they seek to help, but it gives them the opportunity to strengthen the skills they use in their career. This is crucial for engagement, not to mention career development!

Pro bono volunteers may donate their professional services to the causes or organizations of your choice. Think of this as a step above typical volunteering, as pro bono volunteers are meant to bring structure and expertise to the functions within the nonprofit so it can perform better as an organization. For example, Habitat for Humanity would use employee volunteers to build houses, but the same company could provide pro bono volunteers to assist with business functions in HR, marketing, IT, finance, legal, etc.

What you can do

The world of corporate philanthropy, or philanthropy in general, can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate. An abundance of resources goes towards making these programs organized, compliant and, ultimately, successful.

Companies like CyberGrants exist to make corporate philanthropy a reality for today’s employers. With over 2.1 million charities in the charity database, CyberGrants offers a diverse group of legitimate charities for your company to consider. CyberGrants philanthropy software makes corporate philanthropy management easy for employers.

CyberGrants for all of your philanthropic needs:

Giving back to the world has a powerful impact on how we humans behave. It’s important for employers to understand the value in having employee giving programs so they can continue to satisfy the workforce. It doesn’t hurt that lives in need might be impacted by those actions too! Contact us to find out how CyberGrants can help maximize your social footprint on the world.

Looking for a little help in building out your corporate giving strategy?

Download 7 Qualities An Outsourced Vendor Should Have to get a clear view of what it takes to put a successful strategy together.

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