Executive Engagement Inspires by Example

Jewell Willett November 11, 2015 Employee Engagement

We recently launched a great internal education series at YourCause HQ cleverly named ‘Fireside Chats’ in which we sit down in our cozy beanbag lounge and speak about topics relative to the CSR industry and our clients. It’s a great exercise that brings all of our departments together to share experiences and pose questions about our industry. In our first ‘Fireside Chat’, we set out to tackle the idea of executive engagement.

The CSR professionals that we work with are forging a new path for employee participation by helping to change the motivation behind giving and volunteering. In return, the expectations for executive involvement are shifting. If you are looking to expand your executive engagement, here are a few thoughts our team put together based on our collective experiences in corporate giving. Take a look and see if they inspire you to gain the momentum you might be seeking from your leadership.

What matters most to your executives?

The one thing that we can all agree on is that data will help drive your executive participation, but the big question is: What kind of data is most important? Every company tracks CSR involvement for different reasons, which means individual companies should identify the data that will encourage their executives to participate on a greater level. Here are some key thoughts and ideas to keep in mind:

  • Are you comparing year-to-year participation growth? Making a habit of this practice helps you catch on to company trends.
  • Consider sending a follow-up to the mass communications that launched your campaign. Feature summary analytics and stories of success.
  • Start connecting the numbers to stories about real-life participation – make realistic connections to the donations or volunteer time.

Taking time to figure out the data that matters could be just what your team needs to get more buy-in. To expand your reach with executives even further, make sure that you are answering some other important questions:

  • Is everyone invested in one, unified goal for your CSR program?
  • Have you involved your leaders in your goal planning?

How are you trying to get your executives involved?

It’s time to take executive involvement outside of the normal short-term sightings. Dunking booths at the campaign kick-off fairs, or a pie-in-the-face for hitting participation goals are great standards and do well for a one-time experience (who doesn’t get a kick out of that?). However, times are changing and we are all looking to inspire frequent involvement. As a CSR technology provider, we hear great stories every day that, little by little, encourage executives to lead the charge in becoming more frequently involved.

Go viral: The last few years have brought a wave of great viral movements started by the executives of our clients. We are seeing everything from motivational selfies, to hashtag challenges, to executive teams dancing for their favorite causes. These new approaches have sparked a new kind of top-down motivation.

Celebrate their passions: Many of our clients that have successful leadership buy-in also support programs that are specifically targeted to their engagement. For example, executive matching programs.

Plan meaningful communications: Our clients that have seen success with mass communications from their leadership team follow a few cardinal rules:

  • Frequency counts. Don’t forget to have your leadership follow up to their kick-off email.
  • Shake up the roster. Get more executives involved in email campaigns, and have them personalize their message so they are sincere and motivating.
  • Go outside the email. Try posting an online newsletter article that links to your community, or have your executives and their message hosted on posters throughout your buildings.
  • Look at your trends from last year and target communications based off of high and low participation days or special occasions.

What’s the bottom line?

After our ‘Fireside Chat’ came to a close, the one thing that was overwhelmingly clear was that in order for you to have your executives buy in to your programs, you have to do the ground work. Focus on the key pieces of information that will get them excited, deliver the information they need to see the program as a success, and use them to get your employees involved. That’s all for this ‘Fireside Chat’, we hope these conversation notes provide you the boost you need!