5 Steps to Kickstart Employee Engagement Through Workplace Giving

Increase Impacts from Your Employee Giving & Volunteering Programs
Aug 25, 2011 1:20 PM ET

Just BeCause Blog


Do you hear that buzz? It’s the wow factor of workplace giving.  No longer a “nice to have” employee program, workplace giving matters now more than ever.

So how can you learn about and act on the best practices in workplace giving?  Here are 5 steps to help realize better returns from your employee giving and volunteering programs. 

1. Provide Flexible Charity Choices (you can still be strategic!)

Choice in important. Delivering flexibility in giving/volunteering is key to encouraging participation and ultimately, employee engagement. Open choice (of any charity) or flexible/strategic choice (a subset of causes selected by the organization or perhaps through some polling or crowdsourced program to solicit employee input) allows employees to select the cause(s) that resonate with them.  You can empower choice but still be promote and encourage giving to strategic corporate causes by creating incentives toward corporate sponsored cause(s), portfolios or pillars.  Increasing charity choice increases participation, which can result in greater contributions to all causes, including your strategic ones.

2. Create Corporate “Cause Portfolios” To Align Corporate And Employee Giving

From a company perspective, the goals of workplace giving programs are hybrid in nature: it’s about corporate citizenship on the one hand, yet also about employee engagement/team building, extending the brand and resonating positively with employees and the community at large. 

It’s important to design your workplace giving program to tightly align with your corporate goals. But be careful of the allure of the strategic “killer cause”. Remember that the killer cause is really the one that resonates with the person you’re trying to engage. If you really want to make CSR/CI cultural, you will have a hard time doing it picking one or two causes, regardless of their “fit” with your product or brand. 

Try aligning under pillars, instead: your organization can create portfolios of causes that align with your philanthropic or community investment pillars, regional strategies and goals. Promote them to employees with featured campaigns, blog posts and matching offers. That way, you empower choice yet create bias toward strategic social good programs. Cool, huh?

3. Matching Matters – To Get More Impact, Make It Real-Time And Easy

Matching employee donations is not new, but it’s more important now than ever. People have increased expectations that companies will match their giving.  81% of employees want matching donations and 77% want Dollars for Doers programs (Cone: 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study). And just having a match increases participation, according to 92% of companies (LBG Research “Workplace Giving Works”, 2010). Corporate matching should be easy and make an impact. Matching should be done automatically and in real-time, which will increase participation rates and leverage existing budgets.

4. Roll Out Workplace Giving Under Your Corporate Brand

Your workplace giving solution should be brandable (logos, colours, etc.) without costing a fortune, so you can implement workplace giving under your own identity to create a direct, more intimate connection between the company and its community investment strategy.  (This includes charity portfolios, campaign creation, even company-branded tax receipts!) You can take the concepts of consumer branding and marketing and apply them to your employee programs to deliver optimal impacts and brand benefits. 

5. Ensure Your Technology Solution Enables Easy Campaign Creation And Promotion

Campaigns are key to encouraging participation and can help promote collaboration as employees work collectively toward common goals. One of the most frequent reasons cited for non-participation in or poorly performing programs is a lack of communication and promotion. 

Your workplace giving solution should make it easy for you to set up a new campaign in minutes, enable different campaign types so you can create employee giving campaigns around corporate CI/CSR pillars, support third-party campaigns and events, and quickly add a charitable component to a corporate event or rapidly respond to crisis-based events requiring community support.  You should also be able promote your existing seasonal giving programs or corporate events with a campaign, complete with it’s own matching offer. Imagine, a mechanism for year-round engagement around Giving Back rather than the October/November Hail Mary Campaign.

Equally as important is to think about how to promote your campaign. In addition to traditional communication tools like company e-mail/intranet communications, also use blogging and social networking functionality to promote the campaign and share impact statements.

Hopefully these five steps are both thought and action provoking as you consider how to best plan employee giving and volunteering programs that deliver optimal results.