September usually kicks off the annual workplace giving campaign season where thousands of companies are gearing up to encourage their employees to donate to charity. This annual ritual has been going on for decades. Consequently for many, these annual campaigns have grown predictable and stale, and employee interest is declining. This comes at a time when employee expectations for engagement and the visibility of Corporate Social Responsibility have never been greater.
Many campaign administrators are left to ask themselves, how can I make my giving program exciting and relevant to our company?
Based on my experience, I’ve developed seven key strategies that companies have identified as being important to executing a successful annual employee giving program.
If improving your annual employee giving campaign is on your to-do list, then read on!
1) Create a plan
When I first started my career as a workplace fundraiser I was counseled to build a solid plan and then let the plan be your guide. Build the plan and then work the plan was the mantra.
I continue to see the value of having a solid plan and advise my clients to make planning the first step in any employee giving program.
Your plan provides the clear vision for your program and should identify your objectives, goals, and strategies and define roles and responsibilities. Simply stated, the plan is the roadmap to success. It identifies the destination and shows the roads you must take to arrive.
Always start with a plan!
2) Make it convenient and easy to participate
Overall research into charitable giving indicates that “convenience” is one of the most important drivers of donations. What are you doing to make it convenient and easy for your employees to participate and give?
Give employees options on when and how they contribute by offering payroll giving, credit card, and other financial options. Consider moving from a once a year annual campaign to a more year-round approach to giving.
Technology is becoming an increasingly important tool to administer employee giving programs. It has evolved beyond capturing pledge and contribution information to being used to make the donor experience more meaningful and engaging.
Make sure your technology is accessible to all employees through a website, mobile application, or other means. Employees want to give when, where, and how they choose. Employees can’t give if they can’t access the tools.
3) Make it personal
The days of a “one-size fits all” campaign are long gone. Each company is different and so each employee giving campaign should be unique. Two effective ways to demonstrate this uniqueness is creating a brand that fits your mission and culture and by developing giving options that reflect the diverse interests of the workforce.
Choice is now the norm in giving campaigns. A recent study by America’s Charities found that 93% of companies now allow employees to choose which charities they give to. Companies have found that it is okay to make recommendations to employees by featuring specific nonprofits or causes, but this must be done in concert with a campaign that allows employees to give to causes and charities that are important to their own personal passions and interests.
The same America’s Charities study referenced above also found that employee participation increases when the workplace campaign features a group of charities or when it provides the option to give to whatever charity the employee chooses.
4) Incorporate fun
Remember fundraising starts with “f-u-n”. It’s cute, but it’s also true. If your campaign feels stale, find ways to inject some fun into it. We’ve found that events and contests help to build excitement and add an element of fun.
In one of our recent webinars, Good Done Great encouraged companies to get creative and to provide incentives and recognition for participating. You may want to consider ways to:
- Include games in the giving campaign
- Host a donation drive
- Do a crowd-funding project as a team or department
- Host a fitness challenge
- Incorporate a volunteer project
An important element of the giving campaign is the social aspect. Encourage employees to join together in an activity that builds teamwork, promotes collaboration, and allows them to interact with their peers.
Events, games, contests will make your program unique and fun. Find what works in your culture and include those elements in your giving campaign. The results may surprise you.
5) Engage leadership along employees
Senior leadership must be involved in the campaign in an authentic and genuine way. The days of a top-down mandate are gone but have been replaced with the authentic involvement and participation of the CEO and other senior leaders. They can act as brand ambassadors and demonstrate their support by engaging with employees throughout the campaign. It becomes truly a company-wide all employee effort.
6) Offer a match
Offering a corporate match of employee contributions is an important incentive and is a key reason why employees would choose to make their charitable contribution through the workplace. Employees want their employer to “put skin in the game”. Matching shows a genuine commitment to helping employees give to causes that matter to them and improve the success of the campaign.
Many companies have seen both giving and employee participation increase when a corporate match is given. It is a simple and effective way to double the impact being made through a company’s employee giving program.
7) Reward and recognize
The final step in an annual giving campaign is to recognize and thank employees who volunteer and participate. It is important to provide appropriate recognition to campaign volunteers and to ensure that donors are acknowledged and thanked for their participation and financial contributions.
Next year’s giving campaign begins with thanking those that participated this year. Let them know they are appreciated. Use technology to allow them to track their gift and make sure it gets to the intended recipient cause or nonprofit organization. Build trust.
Recognition and showing impact will do wonders to bring them back in future giving programs.
Good luck with this year’s employee giving campaign and with all your employee engagement programs. While these suggestions may seem basic, ordinary, and commonplace, incorporating them into your giving programs will yield significant results when implemented properly. I’m confident you will notice a difference.
Workplace giving is the foundation of most employee engagement programs, so it is important that you do it right.
Let us know if we can help.
This post was authored by Steve Greenhalgh, Managing Director of CSR Strategy.