By: Michele Egan
Increasingly, employees demand options when it comes to giving time and money through the workplace. The Giving USA Special Report on the Evolution of Workplace Giving, recently released by the Giving USA Foundation and Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, cited a large body of research that led to three main conclusions about how employee engagement and workplace giving is evolving:
- Choice is key
- Engaged employees are more generous
- Companies and nonprofits should aim for longer-term relationships that are aligned with both organizations’ needs, capacities and goals
Driven by the relationship between employees and employers and a sharper focus on social good, factors such as economics, technology and demographic trends are shaping corporate giving and the CSR landscape today.
America’s Charities reports that in 2000, around 30% of employers offered more than one charitable organization donation option for employees. By 2012, over 90% of employers made it possible for employees to donate to a wider range of charitable organizations.
Clearly, technology has exploded over the past two decades and has changed all aspects of the workplace. Looking at a similar timeframe in 2000, America’s Charities reports only 10% of employers conducted at least part of their campaign electronically, which increased to 80% by 2012.
The report does a deep dive into how individual attributes influence participation as well as the characteristics of companies most likely to have successful workplace giving campaigns. Gender and family status, race and ethnicity, age, employee salary, position and length of service, as well as attitudes about their employer and their nonprofit partners, all are linked to the frequency and amount of participation.
In keeping with 2018 being the year of the woman, it is interesting to note that female employees are more likely to participate in workplace giving – and, in situations where men work in departments that are predominantly female, the men donate more to workplace giving programs. That’s a testament to the power of peer to peer influence at work!
Not too surprisingly, many employees engage in workplace campaigns they find personally meaningful and when they have confidence in the nonprofit partners. On the flip side, the lack of a connection to the nonprofit partner is only one reason employees choose to not participate. Company-related characteristics such as job satisfaction, employee commitment, size of company, industry, job mobility, flexibility and a reduction in daily social interaction, all affect employees’ workplace giving commitments.
A large increase in less traditional working arrangements and globalization are elements affecting how companies craft their workplace giving programs. For example, one company experimented by targeting virtual workers with its’ CSR/workplace giving messaging, resulting in increased quantity and quality of extra work completed by these remote workers.
The recruitment and retention advantage a company receives from investing in employee volunteering and workplace giving programs is well documented. Employees report feeling a sense of purpose, positive morale and enhanced general well-being.
Matching Donations Largely Untapped
An estimated $6 to 10 billion in matching gift funds is unclaimed each year, according to Double the Donation. While the number of companies offering matching gift programs is growing, the median number of employees participating is less than 10%. The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) notes that in 2016, approximately 51% of companies offered unrestricted matching gift programs. Expanding corporate matching gifts to reflect employees’ diverse causes may help generate more participation.
Rethink Traditional Tactics
There is a great deal of information in the Giving USA Special Report on the Evolution of Workplace Giving specifically related to United Way and CFC campaigns, including the reality that many traditional campaigns are on the decline. It’s time to rethink campaign strategy and execution. This is especially true with the rising interest in skills-based volunteering in areas such as accounting, finance, planning, information technology and communications. Both skills-based volunteering and long-term, partner-based relationships allow employees to become more engaged with nonprofits and involved in meaningful community-centered work.
Personal connections are critically important. Some companies are utilizing employee resource groups gathered around common issues and interests as one way to shore up charitable engagement. There are other strategies being deployed including companies rewarding employees with ‘dollars for doers’ and giving employees a ‘choice and voice’ in their social impact initiatives.
As the CSR field evolves, companies, employees and nonprofits continue to join forces to positively impact the bottom line, their communities and personal growth. The power of partnership can deepen relationships and exponentially increase engagement. I believe it is also a valuable, efficient point of entry that leads to greater awareness and potential new donors for nonprofits. In an ideal world, companies who are willing to strategize with nonprofits, and nonprofits who develop strategies with explicit goals for collaboration, will deliver successful corporate volunteer and workplace giving programs.