Employee Giving Guide: Tips and Best Practices in the Workplace
We’ve been helping companies set up their employee giving programs since 2007 (when this industry first started going online). This post shares the tools and strategies that we’ve learned along the way.
Use these links to jump to the section that most interests you:
- The Benefits of Employee Giving
- Overview of Common Programs
- Boosting Engagement
- Evaluating Your Program
Whether you’re completely new to employee giving, or an industry veteran, this guide will have info to help you make the largest impact possible.
The Benefits of Employee Giving
A good place to start is answering the question, “What is employee giving?”
Simply put, employee giving is the donations made by a company and its employees to nonprofit organizations.
Today’s companies use their resources to give back to their communities, while both encouraging and empowering their employees to do the same. Employee giving (also called workplace giving), along with employee volunteering and grants, are vital elements of an organization’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts.
In addition to the nonprofit impact, CSR also provides tangible benefits to a company and its employees.
You’ll be among the best of the best
More and more of the top companies are incorporating CSR programs like giving into their work culture.
Of the companies in the S&P 500, 82% published a CSR report in 2016. This 20% increase from 2011 shows the shift in focus that successful companies are placing on CSR programs like giving.
This trend is echoed by PWC’s Global CEO Survey which sites that 84% of interviewed CEO’s believe that the most successful companies will make CSR a core aspect of the company in the next five years.
Increased employee happiness and retention
Providing employees the opportunity to engage with their philanthropic passions reduces employee turnover. In fact, employees who are engaged in corporate philanthropy are 32% less likely to leave the company compared to their unengaged counterparts. This is huge!
This retention has massive benefits for an organization, especially the HR department who site employee turnover as the most challenging part of their position.
Keep your top talent longer to reduce the impact on the bottom line.
Employees expect more from their employer than ever before. 64% of employees say that opportunities to support causes and issues they care about are as important as wellness programs or tuition reimbursements.
Millennials, in particular, are expecting certain benefits when starting out at a company, and a giving program is on that list.
So, offering giving programs for employees will ensure that your company is prepared for the top talent of the future.
Finally, it’s cost effective for nonprofit organizations
Employee giving also has benefits to nonprofits by providing them a more efficient way to use their resources.
Online tools offered by CSR providers help ease nonprofit administration tasks and ensures that more of the funds get to the charity. YourCause’s tool NPOconnect helps nonprofits connect directly with your company and vice versa.
The donations received from companies are sustainable, secure, and provide a low-cost way to fundraise for nonprofits.
Now that we’ve covered the benefits that employee giving will bring to your company, let’s get to the different types of programs…
Employee Giving Basics: Overview of Common Programs
So how does it work exactly? This section will explain the different ways that our clients typically structure their workplace giving programs.
Campaign vs. Year-Round
These are the two main giving models that define when your employees can donate funds:
Campaign giving is a month where employees pledge their payroll donations for the upcoming calendar year. Our partners typically launch their campaigns in the fall so employees are prepared for the next year and are feeling generous for the holidays.
Campaigns have the advantage of a hyper-focused period of time to get employees excited, educated, and engaged with initiating reoccurring payroll commitments for the next year. The disadvantage is that employees don’t have the flexibility to edit their donation. So if an employee misses the donation window, they’ll have to wait another year to pledge.
Clients like The Standard see success with campaign giving by hosting a kick-off event to generate buzz and educate employees on the campaign details.
Year-round giving is the other giving model that allows your employees to add and revise donations at any time throughout the year.
This empowers employees to make donations whenever the feeling strikes. Companies use year-round giving to foster an ongoing culture of social engagement.
While year-round engagement programs help to build unity among employees, maintaining and promoting giving programs throughout the year can often require a full-time CSR person.
Which is why many companies use a hybrid of both.
Campaign / Year-Round Hybrid Model is a combination of the two.
Luckily, there is a third option. By combining campaign and year-round giving models, you’ll have the concentrated promotion of a campaign and you can keep the program open year-round for any one-time gifts. Many YourCause clients see great success using this hybrid model!
Understanding the culture and resources of your company will help you determine the most effective giving model for you.
Types of Giving
If you asked your employees how they donate their funds, you’ll receive completely different answers.
Some might donate at the cash register, while others donate at their local church, and still, another might sponsor a family member’s 5k fundraiser.
CSR technology platforms allow flexibility with giving types so employees can donate in the way that is most convenient for them. These are the four main giving types:
- Payroll donations are deducted from the employee’s paycheck and can be setup as a one-time donation or recurring donation.
- Credit card donations are for one-time transactions only. It includes credit cards, debit cards, and even Paypal. This makes it quick and easy for employees and mimics an online shopping experience. *Note – Some companies might only want to offer credit card giving because they might not have the bandwidth to offer payroll giving, which typically requires a commitment of time from HR resources.
- Offline donations allow an employee to record a cash, check, or other direct donation made outside of the platform. Typically, employees use this to apply for a match.
- Cause Cards are funds that can be given and redeemed like a gift card. We’ll go deep into the applications and uses of Cause Cards in later sections.
Now that you have the foundation of the different types of programs, it’s time to dive into how you can use employee giving to increase participation at your company.
How to Boost Engagement for Employee Giving
The more your employees are participating in your programs, the greater the outcome for everyone. Employees will be happier, nonprofits will have more resources, and your company will be positively impacting your community.
But it can be difficult to get employees to take action. Over the years we’ve seen strategies that were successful and others that missed the mark. This section will break down what we’ve seen work at other companies to help you best engage your employees. We’ll cover:
- Special Campaigns
Being flexible about the nature of your campaigns will allow you to boost engagement, whatever the situation.
Designated giving days such as Giving Tuesday or Red Nose Day are increasing in popularity. Take advantage of the marketing buzz that already exists around these special giving days to motivate your employees.
At YourCause, we celebrated Red Nose Day last spring in partnership with Walgreens. By simply wearing clown noses supplied by our partner, we heightened awareness of child poverty and boosted employee donations on our own giving platform.
We recommend making a list of special “days of giving” that are relevant to your companies goals and launching campaigns around them to get employees involved.
Disaster relief is another event that motivates employees to get involved. They are especially effective for the employee base who has never participated in the past. Our data shows that 79% of employees who contribute to a disaster campaign are first-time donors. And of these first-time donors, 65% come back to donate again.
During the Hurricane Harvey disaster relief, companies in our network rallied around the cause by quickly setting up relief campaigns, and saw an incredible amount of charitable giving.
So when a cause arises that employees care about, be ready to quickly setup a disaster campaign to provide your employees the means to help out.
Give your employees a voice.
Platform-based voting campaigns can boost employee engagement and initiate a snowball effect. What begins with a simple vote cast on a platform can eventually inspire an employee to become a dedicated active user. That user will, in turn, encourage colleagues to engage with the platform, growing your roster of potential champions.
Dell used a voting campaign to give their employees an easy way to engage with their platform and take environmental action. They would plant a tree for every employee who cast a vote on the platform. Team members simply voted for the location of where the tree should be planted. Employees encouraged other team members to join in the vote as well, and the campaign brought many new employees to the online community for the very first time.
This is just one example of using voting. Other companies have used voting to recognize top philanthropic performers or to survey employees regarding their preferred donation recipients.
Regardless of a campaign’s outward goal, voting will invariably serve to engage more team members within their online community.
Empower your employees to share their philanthropic passions!
Fundraising is a simple way for employees to create their own page for a charity, which they can promote both internally and externally.
We have used our share of fundraisers here at YourCause to great results. An especially generous employee created a charity fundraiser for her own baby shower! Here is how Senior Account Manager, Jewell Willett, describes it in her own words:
When I found out they were going to coordinate a work shower for me, I asked our executive team if we could turn on fundraising for our CSR tool. I felt like I wanted to do something in honor of our mission vs. collecting more toys or material items. They approved it, and I launched the fundraiser to Kangu.org – they are an NPO that raises funds for women in developing nations to help offset medical costs for health care they can’t afford. I picked Uganda Mom’s as the designation for the donation because of Patrick, the inspiration for YourCause, lives in Uganda. I thought we could support women’s health care in his community because his inspiration allows me to have access to my own health care. I was trying to come full circle. The theme for the shower was ‘Donations and Diapers’ so everyone made a donation and/or brought me diapers. Fun fact – I have not had to buy diapers since Riex was born because of the generosity- and we hit the goal!”
Colleagues who may not have given to a nonprofit before were drawn in because they wanted to be part of their friend’s celebration. This shows how fundraising is a great way to support employees at your company who are already passionate about a cause.
Boosting Engagement Conclusion
Successful companies create and curate a community over time. It’s not a sprint, but an ongoing effort.
Like so much of culture today, your employees want to connect with others who share similar philanthropic interests. When you can offer various entry points and keep things fresh and new, you are more likely to grow the community.
Measuring Success: Evaluating Your Employee Giving Program
I know what you’re thinking: “This sounds great, but will it actually work?”
There is only one way to find out: measure.
Tracking your progress will help you to understand where your programs are headed and provide a way to communicate impact, celebrate success, and see how you can improve in the future.
Top companies measure their results, including the 76% of companies in the Civic 50 who measure the business impact of their community engagement work.
- Using Reporting Tools
- Surveying Employees
- Sharing the Results
Excel will only get you so far.
Once your employee count reaches a certain size, it becomes necessary to use a dedicated CSR tool to pull detailed and custom reports.
YourCause offers both standard and ad-hoc reports that allow program managers to view high-level summary data by geography, business unit, etc.
With our Ad-hoc Reporting Manager, clients can deep-dive into their data through custom reports to analyze their program performance through a variety of data elements.
A tried and true way to understanding your employees is getting it straight from the horse’s mouth.
There are tons of ways of setting up survey information, but a tool built into the employee giving platform makes this task much easier. YourCause offers a simple option for employees to submit feedback through the platform.
Once you have your answers, find the nuggets of wisdom so you can maximize what worked and minimize what didn’t.
It is also beneficial to share the results back with your employees to show how you are listening and using their input to strengthen your programs.
Don’t keep it all to yourself. Sharing results both internally and externally gets everyone on the same page.
Internally: You can never over communicate with your team. Highlight successes in your online community and foster healthy competition between groups.
The more communication vehicles the better. Keep employee giving at the forefront of employees thoughts by including it in meetings, newsletters, and bulletin boards (electronic or old-school).
Think about how you position the data relative to your company culture. Some companies love healthy competition so showing how different departments are doing on a regular basis throughout a campaign can energize everyone.
Another great way to share your accomplishments is to find the top receiving charities and highlight the impact your company’s giving efforts are having.
Externally: Once you have your results, consider how you share them externally on your website and via other channels. This helps create pride and loyalty with employees and will shed your company in a positive light.
Putting together an end-of-year CSR report will help show your company’s CSR accomplishments, and reinforce to the stakeholders that your program is showing growth and progress. This is becoming an increasingly common practice, as 82% of S&P 500 companies publish CSR reports.
Conclusion: Going Forward
Employee giving programs are the new norm for top performing companies.
Giving back not only helps those in our communities, but it also has a measurable positive impact for the company including increased happiness, employee retention, and better market perceptions.
But setting up a new program requires strategy, planning, and careful consideration of goals and requirements.
The good news is there are many successful companies to learn from and many tools to help manage and grow your programs. An online platform will help you craft a program that requires minimal administration so you have time to cultivate and build engagement in your programs.
If you haven’t already, now is a great time to consider joining the community of corporate givers.
This is the first in a new article series which will feature strategies and tips to help you use CSR to make an impact.