Engaging employees in philanthropic work is an important business strategy. Employee engagement expands a company’s philanthropic footprint while increasing employee satisfaction and retention. It also gives a company an edge in recruiting.
Nonprofits can add value and strengthen the bond with their corporate partners by offering quality employee engagement opportunities. Companies are looking for activations specifically designed to meet their needs and those of their employees. Their goal is to engage employees, increase participation in their philanthropic efforts and to create lasting impact.
Days of service are one of the most common ways companies give back to their communities. These are hands-on team-building experiences for employees such as working at a food bank, building a home or cleaning up a park. A day of service can lead to other collaborations such as skills-based volunteering. Skills-based volunteering is increasingly recognized for its benefits to companies, employees, and nonprofit partners. Everyone wins when an employee’s expertise can be used to address social issues and at the same time provide them with an opportunity for professional development.
Successful employee engagement programs combine business and philanthropic goals so it’s important to invest time in getting to know your partner and their needs. The opportunity needs to be a good fit with their business and make sense with their geographic footprint. Providing a variety of ways to participate is a plus, especially when partnering with companies with satellite offices.
Here are two companies who inspire us in their innovative employee engagement programs:
Starbucks expanded its pilot program with Points of Light in 2019 to 20 cities. Starbucks Service Fellows program is designed to provide support to local nonprofits while providing an opportunity for 100 Starbucks partners to pursue their personal passion to get involved with their communities. Fellows are matched with a local organization where they work part-time, while also working part-time at Starbucks. The program creates growth opportunities for corporate volunteers, provides nonprofits with valuable support and strengthens communities.
Employees are proud of the commitment of Quicken Loans to its hometown of Detroit. The lender is using employee tech skills to improve workplace readiness through a variety of programs. The company provides early career exposure to IT, construction and customer service for every Detroit student by the end of eighth grade. Technology team members partner with 800+ students who learn the basics of computer science and more advanced coding, hardware skills and creative problem solving at the Quicken Loans offices in downtown Detroit.
Creativity can set your nonprofit employee engagement program apart, but you also need to be realistic about what is feasible. Starting out with a day of service and then creating other activations as the partnership matures is a good roadmap. Remember it’s important for companies to be able to measure the value of their contribution and communicate the impact of the partnership to its stakeholders, so providing data and content they can share is key. Employees will feel connected to the company and the cause when meaningful employee engagement opportunities are offered, and both the company and the nonprofit will benefit as a result.
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