Land O’Lakes is widely known to consumers as a dairy brand with products like butter, spreads and cheese. In the agriculture community, Land O’Lakes is known for their farmer-owned cooperative model that helps independently-owned and -operated agriculture retailers compete. At the forefront of their brand is a commitment to farmers and a corporate social responsibility program that brings people together for the common good.

This interview features Kelly Bukowski, community relations specialist at Land O’Lakes. Kelly discusses her decision to move their annual giving campaign to the YourCause platform and provides insight on how to have a smooth launch when switching platforms.

Please tell us a little about your corporate social responsibility and employee engagement program at Land O’Lakes.

Land O’Lakes, Inc. is a farmer-owned cooperative that has been around for 100 years. At the heart of our identity is the idea of working together for the common good – today and future generations. That’s why each year, Land O’Lakes, Inc. donates a portion of its pretax profits to the Land O’Lakes Foundation and supports corporate giving work. Our employees engage in their communities through numerous available programs, such as a dollars-for-doers volunteer program, team volunteer activities, food drive match program, employee resource group involvement, matching gifts to educations, and numerous matching gift campaigns each year.

Land O’Lakes offers year-round gift matching for employees that give offline and through credit card donations. In 2020, your team decided to add a giving campaign payroll option to your employees giving platform. What drove this decision?

Our Community Relations and Foundation team leads a fall giving campaign every year for all employees. Previously, our fall campaign directed donations to a single nonprofit organization through their platform. In 2020, we decided to open up the giving campaign to ten additional nonprofits that would be eligible for matching gifts. This was the main driving factor for moving our annual campaign to YourCause. With this additional choice for where employees could direct their donations during the fall campaign, we also wanted to make sure they had convenient options in how to do so to further increase participation. Our employees have been using the YourCause platform for all other giving and volunteering programs since 2017, so it made sense to move the fall giving campaign.

What was important to your team when evaluating a giving platform?

The most important feature when evaluating our switch was the user experience. We had been using the former platform for numerous years, so we wanted this switch to be as seamless as possible for our employees.

For those looking to move their giving programs to a platform, what advice would you give them to ensure they have a smooth launch?

Be connected to your account manager! We set up weekly calls with our account manager, which was super helpful for a smooth launch. He made sure we had the right people involved in the right conversations. He had experience working on giving campaigns on the platform with other clients. He was also able to provide us with items to consider or think about when building out our giving campaign.

How did Land O’Lakes promote and engage its employees to adopt the new giving platform?

We have employee “ambassadors” for each fall giving campaign. These ambassadors are responsible for communicating campaign events and updates leading up to and during the campaign. We held a training for these ambassadors prior to the campaign to show them how to utilize the new platform. That way if anyone on their team had questions, they could be the first to try and answer. The ambassadors could bring anything they could not address to our team. We also created a “How to Donate” resource guide that was communicated to all employees through their ambassadors and was as an engagement tile on our landing page.

Did it work, are your employees engaged?

Despite being almost all-virtual and shaking up the campaign in a numerous ways – like a new giving platform – our 2020 Land O’Lakes (LOL) Giving Campaign was a success. We exceeded our financial goal of $1.6 million dollars being donated back to our communities. Many employees donated to more than one organization this year and 28% of our employee donors were new – which is higher than in past years!

You also recently completed your annual Hunger Action Week giving campaign. Can you tell us the vision and goal of this campaign?

Hunger Action Week is an annual campaign that we lead to support the fight against hunger in the U.S. This year, Hunger Action Week occurred March 15-March 19 and it involved matching gifts to organizations supporting hunger relief, volunteer activities, and educational sessions that inform employees about food insecurity. Volunteer activities included food and fund drives at our plants and facilities, employees driving in-kind food product to food shelves, and virtually volunteering with the Farmlink Project. We had a goal of receiving $30,000 in donations from employees and engaging as many employees in the volunteer and educational sessions as possible. We were very happy with our 2021 results.

Knowing food insecurity is heightened because of COVID, how did you decide what non-profit organization you would support and the program criteria?

When it comes to employee giving, we really want to support employee choice. The program criteria was that the Land O’Lakes Foundation will match donations to all eligible 501c3 food shelves and hunger related organizations ($1 for $1) up to $30,000. We wanted employees to support the hunger needs in their own communities. If an employee did not have a local hunger organization, we provided Feeding America – a national partner of Land O’Lakes, Inc. – as an option or a resource to search for a food bank in their state.

How did you think the campaign went? Any big wins or thing you learned that you could implement in your next campaign?

Hunger Action Week was a success! 158 employees donated money via LOLgives to a food bank or hunger related organization. 15 Food & Fund Drive donations were submitted for the Foundation match – between these two avenues we hit our $30,000 goal and match. One of my favorite wins from this campaign is that we had 40 new users to LOLgives during this week!


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