Over 125 years ago, the first United Way campaign in Denver raised $21,700. Corporations began supporting community groups via annual employee giving campaigns and a trend was born. Fast forward to 2014, and employee giving is hot hot hot. According to a 2013 study conducted by America’s Charities, workplace giving campaigns raise over $3 billion annually. And, while employers remain committed to this traditional social responsibility activity, our evolving workforce and the digital age are necessitating new employee giving strategies. Accelerating the need for change is the arrival of the Millennials into the workplace. They have different expectations and want to be more engaged and empowered in the giving model. I have three suggestions for how you can get started.
The full study is chock full of interesting data and is worth your read. In the meanwhile, I’m sharing these key strategies to maximize employee giving campaign success: Choice. Matching. Fun.
According to the study, charitable choice is offered by more than 90% of employers. Ninety-three percent (93%) of employers that conduct annual campaigns enable employees to choose which charities they support. This represents a 43% increase since 2006 and a 210% increase in choice since 2000. The study also reveals that while giving is up at the companies surveyed, employee participation levels have declined at almost half of them. However, the number of employees who give increases when their workplace campaigns feature a group of charities or when given the option to give to whatever charity they choose. In short, participation is greater when choice is allowed
Nearly two-thirds of employers in this survey match employee contributions which is a 58% increase since 2006. And, according to the study, corporate matches are becoming a central driving force that incentivizes employees participation in workplace initiatives. In fact, at the top of the list of employee expectations of a giving campaign is that the company will match their contribution with a company gift.
More than 50% of employers surveyed have introduced networking events as well as fundraising activities such as charity fairs to accelerate giving campaigns. The real value of these events is creating opportunities for employees to interact with colleagues and organizational leadership and learn more about charities. A growing number of employers are incorporating contests and events as a way to add fun and keep the program vibrant. More than 30% of employers are currently incorporating social media tools into the giving program and more than half plan to implement social media tools in the future to foster employee communication and involvement. Most often, cause marketers on both the nonprofit and corporate sides of the partnership equation focus on externally-facing activities.
To warm up your budget in 2014, I suggest you look inward and introduce choice, matching and fun to an employee-directed campaign. Get ready to watch that giving thermometer rise!