3 Secrets to Unlocking Your Giving Program’s Potential

In an earlier post, we explored how easy it is to get started with a workplace giving program.  More and more small to mid-sized businesses are launching giving programs, and they are seeing the benefits, from happier and more engaged employees to brand recognition in their local communities. To read more about how to get started, check out our post on Starting an Employee Giving Program in 4 Easy Steps. Now, let’s take a deeper look into how to better engage your employees through those workplace giving programs.   

The millennial workforce has made their voice heard about wanting giving options in the workplace.  This trend is even more relevant with recent changes in administration and heated political climate.   Corporate philanthropy is on the rise.  In fact, overall corporate giving has increased by 4.7% in 2017, and it is expected to continue to rise in 2018.  So how to make sure you stay ahead of the curve with this rising trend?  The answer is to listen to your employees and engage them in every aspect of your giving programs.  In this post, we’ve outlined 3 key tips to unlocking your giving program’s potential.  

Tip 1: Make Giving an Integral Part of Your Culture  

Employees want a culture of giving that reflects the values and mission that attracted them to your company. Additionally, employees want the opportunity to give back in a way that reflects their own personal choice and passions. Think about what makes your company stand out?  How can you incorporate your own uniqueness into your giving programs?  While having support for corporate philanthropy needs to come from leaders, seeking feedback from your employees on how they want to be engaged and what causes they are interested in supporting is critical to your success.

Start by soliciting input and feedback into potential giving programs.  Remember that, as the saying goes, ‘charity starts at home,’ meaning your employees likely have causes that they care about already.  Let them volunteer their favorite causes as potential recipients of your workplace giving programs.  Encourage your employees to donate  and/or volunteer for causes they personally care about and demonstrate this commitment through senior leadership’s own commitment to charity.  If your company is new to corporate giving, the following are examples of how to get the ball rolling:

  • Ask your employees to nominate a favorite community cause or campaign.  Eliminate those that don’t fit with your brand, and hold a vote on which ones to support.
  • Create a strategy to support your giving program and ensure it fits with your existing operations and resources.
  • Get your CEO to make a big splash for a cause and showcase it to your employees.
  • Create a matching gift program that shows a tangible commitment from the company.  You give, we give, let’s all give.
  • Make your program a priority. Workplace giving should be just as important as  your mandated sessions on health care or retirement planning.

If your employees feel ownership for your giving program and leadership embeds giving into your culture, you will create higher levels of engagement and participation.

A giving program that your employees have a sense of ownership in and embedded into everyday culture at your workplace will create higher levels of engagement and participation.  

Tip 2: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Be ready and expect questions. You will need to communicate the alignment between your giving program’s goals and your company’s values and the importance of participation.You will need to  communicate how your giving program aligns with your company’s values and goals and why it is important for all to get involved.  

A caveat: employee participation should always be voluntary, and pains should be taken to ensure that no employee feels he or she is being pressured into giving or volunteering. To be successful in integrating your giving programs into your culture you will need to communicate with all  your key stakeholders and create buy in.  

The #1 reason employees don’t give? They weren’t asked.  The #2 reason: nobody told them how.  Be sure to communicate early and often about the program and how they can participate.  Repeat as necessary.  Your communication plan will be a marathon and not a sprint, so get ready for a long term commitment.  Don’t forget that your efforts to educate, encourage, and solicit employee participation are done through face to face interactions in addition to online channels.  

Tip 3: Measure Impact and Share  

Your workplace giving program is only as effective as your actual knowledge about its outcomes.  It is incredibly important to have a system in place that allows for accurate tracking and reporting.  Even if you don’t have the resources to invest in infrastructure to support your giving program at this stage, start planning for when you might.  In the meantime, track metrics that include things such as employee participation rates, dollars raised, and time donated.  Showing your story of impact will attract more employee support.   The more employees feel they can create change, the more motivated they will be.  We have seen success when companies support and reward their employees in personal volunteer activities or encourage employees to recognize each other for good social impact work.  

The benefits to workplace giving are numerous, but if you are able to embrace it as part of your company culture, effectively communicate the desired outcomes of the program and steps for involvement,  and show your collective impact, you will take an important step in unlocking your giving program’s potential.  

Stay tuned to our upcoming blogs for more effective workplace giving tips and secrets.  Learn more about us at www.gooddonegreat.com .

Defensible Decision Making for Grants: The Strategic No

In the world of corporate contributions, an approved request for funding to a nonprofit partner is often the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship. The nonprofit receives much needed resources to carry out their good works, and the corporation is able to demonstrate that they care about the communities where they’re doing business and impacting social and environmental change. A strategic “YES” can ultimately improve the company’s reputation.

Unfortunately, a declined request for funding can have an equal but negative impact on reputation, usually when the organization that has received a “NO” perceives that they have been declined unfairly. The following are several tips to prevent that unfavorable perception:

Identify your funding focus areas and communicate them clearly.

Help potential nonprofit partners understand exactly what kinds of programs and initiatives your company is looking to fund before they ever apply for funding. Time is a precious commodity, and this will allow nonprofits to prioritize the opportunities that they are the best candidate for.

Define your criteria and establish how you will “score” requests.

Once you’ve defined your focus areas, take the time to establish the criteria for which will make decisions. Determine what attributes make an ideal fit in addition to the focus areas.

  • Geographic proximity?
  • Demographics?
  • Number of people impacted?
  • Relationship with an executive at your company or a specific affinity group within your organization?

It’s not necessary to make the criteria public, but it is important to know why you’re making the decisions you’re making, and it will help you if you’re ever challenged on a “NO”.

Corporate Contributions Good Done Great

Make sure you have the right group making decisions.

Building an appropriate review group and structure is a critical part of defensible decision making for grants. It’s very tempting to build this group exclusively of team members who work directly with nonprofits in their communities. Or, with people who are directly responsible for administering the funds. Consider casting a wider net, which might include:

  • Legislative or government affairs
  • Human resources
  • Public relations
  • Marketing
  • Plant Leads (for manufacturing companies)

Be intentional with the questions you ask on your grant applications.

Each and every question on your grant application should be there for one of two reasons: 1) You will be making a decision based on the answer to that question, or 2) You want to be able to report on results (if the application is approved). There may come a time when you have to defend if a grant was declined because of a specific question on your application. If the question is there, nonprofits will rightfully make the assumption that they are being evaluated on it.

Communicate your decisions quickly.

Once a decision has been made about whether or not to fund a program or initiative, that decision should be communicated quickly. Nonprofits need to make program decisions based on budgets, bad news never gets better with age, even if the answer is “NO” it’s better for them to know that sooner rather than later.

Following these tips will go a long way towards protecting your organization when you decline requests for funding. So what do you do if you take all the right steps and an organization still posts on social media or other forums that they feel like they’ve been treated unfairly in not receiving funding? Let other advocates speak on your behalf first. It’s likely, that the organizations that have received funding will come to your defense. If that doesn’t happen, by following these tips you will have the information that you need to defend your company’s decision.