Giving at the Office

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When your company looks to set up its charitable giving program, how much of it is driven by the C-suite and how much by the rank and file? A new report from America’s Charities, a nonprofit that focuses on workplace charitable giving, says that the benefits of a well-designed program can bring positive results not just to recipients, but to your company as well.

Snapshot 2017 is America’s Charities’ annual report on trends in employee giving. This year the organization did something a little different: it focused on corporate giving from the perspective of employees—and the resulting report contains many insights into what employees get out of donating their time and money through workplace initiatives.

As companies set up their charitable initiatives for 2018, some of the ideas America’s Charities explores in this report are worth keeping in mind.

The report’s most important finding is that employees really appreciate the opportunity to make donations on the job. In creating a workplace culture that values giving back, companies attract employees who want to be aligned with organizations that share their values. It allows employees to make a difference and be part of something larger than themselves, which brings a lot of personal satisfaction.

Workers also look at workplace volunteering as a chance to connect with both coworkers and management. Getting buy-in from top managers—as well as their participation—will help engage employees and make initiatives a success for everyone.

Choice Is the Key
Another way to guarantee the success of your charitable initiative is to make sure you’re providing more than just one option for employee giving. The report found that 63 percent of employees polled found it valuable to have a choice of organizations to donate to through the workplace. Not everyone shares the same values, so offering choices helps ensure that everyone can find a charity they feel good about giving to. And for even deeper engagement, consider a way for employees to help choose the charities offered.

Speaking of choice, employees should always retain the choice of whether to give at all. If they feel forced or coerced into participating in charitable initiatives, it can cause real resentment.

Sweetening the Pot
The opportunity to give at work to charities that align with their values provides enough motivation for many employees to take part. However, the report found that the top two incentives for workplace donors were (1) the offer of paid time off to volunteer and (2) employer-matched giving. Supporting employees’ efforts to give to charity by donating PTO or cash shows that a company is willing to walk the walk for volunteer efforts, not just talk the talk.

Once you’ve designed the initiative and chosen the charities you’ll support, it’s important to make it easy for employees to participate. The report found that employees value having an easy-to-use technological solution to donating in the workplace, like an app or a secure website where they can contribute money safely (and, in some cases, anonymously).

Employees also appreciate having information readily available about the nonprofits they’re supporting. Knowing the charity’s impact on the community or the larger world helps employees feel good about sharing their time or money with it.

This upcoming year, put some charitable initiatives together—it’s good for employees, good for business, and great for your donation partners.

Miriam Wolf is the editor of The FruitGuys Magazine.


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