Engaging consumers in corporate social responsibility

Engage consumers Corporate Social Responsibility

Chances are pretty good that you’ve had the experience of being asked to donate to charity when checking out at your favorite retail store. Whether you consider these “checkout” appeals annoying or appealing, one cannot ignore the fact that according to one study, 71% of consumers said they have participated in a checkout campaign, and 55% said they enjoyed doing it. Additionally, many indicate they will contribute again in the future when given an opportunity.

A successful way to contribute to charity

The amount of money raised through these programs is revealing. One study found that point of sale charity donations raised $441 million in 2016. In aggregate, these large point of sale donation programs have raised over $4 billion over the past three decades. The practice has become embedded in our everyday lives.

Ways to engage consumers beyond checkout campaigns

There are the traditional “donate at the register” campaigns, but there are other ways to engage consumers in charitable giving. Like many of you, I recently participated in Amazon Prime Day. When I logged in, Amazon reminded me to go to Amazon Smiles to take advantage of my desire to donate to one of my favorite charities, St. Jude Children’s Hospital,  as a result of my purchases. In this example, I didn’t have to do anything extra – just make my purchases. Super easy! Amazon made me a loyal customer and made a donation to an organization important to me.

Engaging consumers in CSR is good business

Why do companies conduct these checkout charity campaigns and other consumer facing donation programs? It’s very simple. It’s good for their business. Consumers expect and want companies to give back to the community and demonstrate good corporate citizenship. While these programs are just one way companies engage, they are very visible to consumers, employees, and other key stakeholders.

Employees become ambassadors for the cause and invite consumers to participate. Checkout campaigns raise significant amounts of money but little corporate dollars are involved. Companies get recognition and the visibility without expending a lot of corporate resources.

Positive brand association with a cause

Point of sale campaigns are effective because they are often focused on a single charity or cause. This gives a company an opportunity to be associated with a cause. Having a single cause makes it easier to communicate with consumers and demonstrates a commitment by the company.

The cause does matter. Care should be taken to identify a cause that is relevant in today’s environment, appeals to a broad constituency, and fits with the company’s values, mission, and objectives. A study by Engage for Good found the most appealing causes were children’s health, disease-related charities, and campaigns focused on animals.

Corporate Social Responsibility continues to be a differentiator in the minds of consumers.  With more than 25 years of benchmark data, Cone Communications has consistently shown a steady increase in consumer’s willingness to purchase a product or support a company with a social benefit. Consumers have a more positive image of the company, are more likely to trust a company, and demonstrate loyalty to the company if they see an authentic commitment to social responsibility.

Checkout donation programs best practices:

  • Be authentic. Consumers want and expect transparency and authenticity from brands.
  • Use incentives such as discounts or coupons to encourage participation. It is estimated that 40% of companies offer some type of incentive to encourage donations such as bonus loyalty points, coupon books, and early access to sales and promotions.
  • Connect the donation to the company’s loyalty program.
  • Ensure a strong fit between the company and the cause. For example, a grocery store raising funds to combat hunger is very compelling and demonstrates authenticity.
  • Allow for competition between stores and employees.
  • Provide recognition of employees who are actively engaged and promote donation opportunities to customers.

The top five retail checkout champions in 2016:

  • eBay raised $56.6 million for over 34,000 charities
  • Walmart and Sam’s Club raised $37 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals
  • Petco raised $28.4 million for the Petco Foundation
  • McDonald’s raised $281 million for Ronald McDonald House Charities
  • Costco raised $22.5 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Just this week, we learned that Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals raises more than 60% of its revenue from the retail sector and primarily through checkout campaigns.

Checkout charity is just one opportunity to engage consumers, but it is a lucrative one. It’s a win-win for both charities and companies, and consumers like it.  The way consumers engage with retailers is changing but “doing good in the world is becoming a higher priority for consumers and employees.”

FAQs for Small Businesses Launching a Matching Gift Program

So you are contemplating creating a matching gift program?  Where do you get started, and what are other small- medium businesses (SMB) doing?  The good news is that you are not alone.   In fact, according to a study completed by America’s Charities, 70% of companies offer matching gifts as a component of their volunteer and giving programs.    At Good Done Great, we work with companies of all sizes, and we are frequently contacted by small businesses looking to learn how they measure up against their peers.  

How Common is a Matching Gift program in the SMB Market?

While this number can vary greatly depending on company size and industry, the trend of workplace giving is here to stay.   Your consumers and employees are demanding it.   Fact: 91% of global consumers said they expect companies to have social and environmental goals. According to a Deloitte survey conducted last year, 70% of young Millennials, those ages 18 to 26, say a company’s commitment to the community has an influence on their decision to work there.   Every day more small businesses are jumping in to workplace giving. It is time to join the masses.

What is a Typical Match Rate?

In our experience most SMB businesses that we work with are using a 1:1 match ratio.  Sometimes this ratio will vary amongst different employee groups.  For example, your company may offer a 1:1 match for full time employees, but offer less for your part time employees. Or, you might want to offer a higher match for employees after they hit their 5 year anniversary with your company, or to those who serve in a leadership role.

The important thing to keep in mind when determining your ratio is that your matching gift program is a benefit, and no matter what ratio you are able to start with, you are increasing your impact on the social good community.

How Does My Business Benefit from Matching Gift Programs?

Who doesn’t want a more elevated brand, better relationships with your local community and happier employees?  These are just a few of the common benefits associated with a matching gift program, which we have dived in deeper in past posts here.  

Other advantages to consider are how giving back can help small businesses in their public relations effort- especially if you do not have a large PR/media budget.  You can share your good work through blog posts, press releases, and other social media channels.   This is all good, but don’t forget that an effective workplace giving program is not about you.   It is about supporting the causes your employees are passionate about.

Finally, when your company offers a matching gift program you will benefit from tax breaks.  No matter the size of your program, you are able to deduct your matching gifts from your reported income.  It is a win win for all!

What Do I Need to Consider When Building a Matching Gift Program?

There are many factors to consider when building a matching gift program, but in summary here are some key principles to keep in mind:

  • Allow employee choice.  It is ok to select causes that are eligible for your program, but giving is personal, so allow your employees to choose which specific non-profit they want to support.
  • Keep it simple and social.  Plan ahead for what infrastructure will keep the program engaging and easy to use.  
  • Make time to ensure your program is well run.  Whether this means you appoint a program administrator or hire someone to manage the program, make sure it is a program that will not fall to the bottom of your priority list.  It will take time and effort to nurture and grow your matching gift program.  In the end, it will be worth it!

For more tips on getting started and running effective matching gift programs for the small business stayed tuned and sign up for more information at www.gooddonegreat.com . Sign up for our newsletter today! 

The importance of outcome measurement in defining CSR success

Outcome measurement and corporate social responsibility

Open any Corporate Social Responsibility report, and chances are you will see glossy photos of employees picking up trash or painting a building. Amid the photos, statistics highlight the hours volunteered, dollars donated, and charities supported. The photos and statistics provide proof points for CSR programs, but do they accurately depict the impact companies create in the communities in which they operate?

Many corporations stop their CSR tracking with outputs – hours volunteered, dollars donated, and charities supported. They fail to ask themselves the question, “Why would our stakeholders care?”

We can take a hint from foundations and other grantmaking organizations to better report upon our CSR impact. These organizations utilize the outcome measurement approach to track inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes. This model more accurately answers the question, “so what?”

Say one of your CSR programs is a volunteer program that matches your employees with students for one-on-one mentoring and tutoring. The inputs include the volunteers, books, writing utensils, computers, budget, and any other inputs needed to operate the program.

Activities may include helping with homework, demonstrating computer functionality, and participating in any extracurricular activities that may boost the confidence of the students.

The outputs are the tangible results of the volunteer program – hours volunteered, numbers of students mentored.

The final and most important components of the outcome measurement approach are the outcomes and performance indicators. These components indicate the intended impact of the CSR program and the specific and measurable characteristics of the program.

The outcomes of a mentoring and tutoring program may include improved reading comprehension, increase in computer literacy, and increase in confidence and self-esteem. These outcomes indicate what you hope your tutoring and mentoring program may accomplish and can be jointly decided upon with your nonprofit partners.

In order to determine the success of the outcomes, program administrators determine performance indicators, these are the measurements of your outcomes.  Referring to our example of a mentoring and tutoring program, here are some sample performance indicators:

  • 75% of students improved standardized test scores
  • 89% of students surveyed revealed they had more self-confidence in school
  • 63% of students improved their computer literacy

Imagine how powerful your CSR reports will be with statistics that indicate the effectiveness of your programs. Your nonprofit partners will more accurately understand the impact of your partnership, your leadership and board will recognize the importance of your CSR programs, and your company’s programs will more clearly indicate positive transformation within your communities.

For any corporate group that wants to move the needle on their CSR reporting, we suggest you work with your nonprofit partners to determine the outcomes you hope to achieve with your programs. No one doubts the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility in increasingly troubling times; however, it’s important to move beyond the vanity metrics and report upon real and sustainable change.

Don’t leave money on the sidewalk: A closer look at matching gift programs

Imagine you are walking down the street, and you find a $50 bill lying on the sidewalk.

You pick it up, and prior to pocketing it, you check to see if anyone is around. You most certainly won’t leave it on the sidewalk.

Every year, charities leave $6 to $10 billion on the sidewalk. The source of this missed funding? Unclaimed matching gifts.  

According to Double the Donation, 65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gift programs, and over 18 million people work for companies with matching gift programs. The median participation rate of employees who participated in matching gifts programs in 2016 was 7%.

Not only do corporations offer this program as a benefit, but employees also request the opportunity to give back. More and more research demonstrates employees’ desires to participate in CSR efforts through the workplace.

The existence of these programs indicates that employers are willing to place their corporate dollars into the hands of their employees. Companies and charities have an incredible opportunity to develop workplace giving campaigns together that meet the charitable desires of current and future employees.

We all know that charities and CSR departments work with limited resources and limited staff; therefore, it can be difficult to stay on top of promoting corporate matching gift programs.

Take advantage of matching gift programs

We’ve developed a few tips for charities and for-profit companies in order to maximize the effectiveness of their matching gift programs:

For charities…

  • Collect employment data from your donors. Once you know where your donors work, you can collect information on their matching gift program. Does their employer offer a program? Are your donors taking advantage of the program?
  • Network with the local companies in your neighborhood. Both small and large companies alike are developing matching gift programs as a way to attract and retain employees. Reach out to them and schedule a lunch and learn so that their employees can get to know your mission and vision.
  • Determine a list of other companies beyond your local region that offer matching gift programs. Use a service such as Double the Donation.

For companies…

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. In the daily hustle of life, it is easy for employees to forget about the benefits that their employers offer them. Find out where your employees “hang out” either online or in person and post reminders about your matching gift program. Place posters in lunchrooms or bathrooms, utilize your employee giving software to place popup reminders, or post announcements on your intranet.
  • Offer your employees choice! An America’s Charities study found that employee participation increases when the workplace giving campaign features a group of charities or the option to donate to whichever charity the employee chooses.
  • Make it relevant! Tie in current holidays and themes to encourage participation! Since June is Men’s Health Month, develop a matching gift campaign that demonstrates the importance of good health and mention several charities that support men’s health and wellness.

It’s time that we stop leaving money on the sidewalk! Charities and corporate groups alike will reap substantial benefits by participating in matching gift programs.

Starting an Employee Giving Program in 4 Easy Steps

To keep up with today’s competitive market, companies, big and small, recognize that doing good is good for business. Why? Because there’s significant data that connects successful workplace giving programs with higher levels of employee engagement. And companies with high employee engagement consistently outperform on financial measures. Whether you call it Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), workplace giving or employee engagement, it’s here to stay. And, to make your brand stand out, attract and retain top candidates, and appeal to prospects and customers, you’re ready to jump in.  

But where to begin? As part of a continuing series on doing good, great, we’ll begin here with a few keys to getting started.

  1. Seek Employee Feedback

Ask employees for their opinions about what they want when it comes to charitable giving or volunteering in the workplace. Why? Because in a study conducted by America’s Charities, when charitable choice is given, employee participation increases. (Source: America’s Charities 2013 Snapshot).  

Introduce the survey with a letter from your CEO stating the company’s commitment to giving back and encouraging employees to weigh in on what’s important to them. The more sense of ownership you create, the more successful your giving program will be.  Include questions about perceptions on any current corporate philanthropy, causes and issues they care about and support, what types of programs would they be more willing to participate in, and what options would make them more willing to participate.   

  1. Create a Budget

While launching an employee giving campaign might seem like a stretch on your budget, the investment is worth it knowing that happier and engaged employees lead to a more productive workforce and a happier, more productive team ultimately leads to a happier, more loyal customer base. Your initial program doesn’t have to be all fireworks and big world-changing initiatives. Companies can start small and still experience the associated benefits and rewards.

To get started, take inventory of all the good work your company is already doing. For example, how many hours have your employees volunteered so far this year, what company donations and sponsorships have you made, and what products or services have you donated back to the community? Use this as a starting point and then evaluate additional resources you might be able to contribute. Setting a budget will allow you to shift from reactively responding to charitable requests to a more strategic, thoughtful approach.

Also, consider whether you can allocate part of the budget to a matching gift program. Everyone loves to double their impact. For example, let’s say you discover in the budgeting process that you gave $5,000 through various charitable requests, we suggest you put that $5,000 into a matching gift program. If your employees collectively give $5,000 that you match dollar for dollar, everybody wins. The employee doubled their impact, the company doubled their impact, and some really great charities will get the funds to carry out their missions. Make your matching gift program as open and flexible as possible while still aligning to your core values. Employees like choice and will be more motivated to participate when they can support charities they care about and also receive a generous company match.  

  1.  Have fun with a launch!

A great way to start your employee giving program and rally the team is with a kick off party. Employee participation is going to be a key success factor to your giving program, so why not have a little fun to encourage involvement. Use it as an opportunity to provide information about the causes you’re supporting and to begin enrollment. Even better, invite someone with a local charity you wish to support and have a lunch and learn session or volunteer fair during the launch. All it takes is a little creativity! In addition to a company-wide kick off event, you could encourage a little interdepartmental competition to add to the festivities. Giving is social in today’s world, so make it fun, build in some recognition, and celebrate!   

  1. Keep them Engaged  

Your giving program succeeds when employees stay engaged. The best way to keep up  momentum after the launch is to communicate progress. Be sure to:

  • capture and share success stories big and small
  • share images, videos, stories as they occur, be it through a company social media page, your giving platform, or a newsletter
  • celebrate milestones achieved (dollars raised, hours volunteered)

Stay tuned to our upcoming blogs providing further guidance, tips on program ideas, ways to keep employees engagement, measuring your impact, and more.  And learn more about us at www.gooddonegreat.com.

 

Hop in the driver’s seat of your corporate social responsibility story

Drive the conversation

People are talking about you. Whether you’re part of the conversation or not, it is happening. The topic is your corporate social responsibility activities. Employees, stakeholders, and consumers are engaged and making decisions based on what they see and read.

The problem is that too often you are left out of the conversation because your side of the story isn’t being told. One is left to wonder how your absence affects your reputation in the mind of those that have high expectations of companies and want them to demonstrate a strong commitment to social responsibility.

Research shows consumers make purchasing decisions based on how socially responsible a company is and will boycott one that isn’t viewed in such a positive light.

For far too long, companies have been reluctant to tell their story. They were afraid it would come across as boastful or bragging. Somehow they felt that sharing the story would negate the good works that were being done.

I’ve talked to several senior corporate leaders in the last few weeks that have validated this reluctance. I’ve heard a consistent message. “We are doing good things, but no one knows about it. We need to do a better job of telling our story.” What was once perceived as bragging is now quickly becoming a necessity.

Corporations are increasingly recognizing that it is in their best interest to not only join but drive the conversation and share the story of how they are driving key social change.

We have learned that there is an expectation for companies to be involved. We’re also learning that there are business reasons for doing so.

According to the recently released 2017 Cone CSR Report, millennials are hopeful that businesses will take the lead to drive social and environmental change moving forward. The same report found that Americans still have high expectations for companies; 92% say they have a more positive image of the company if they support a social or environmental cause.

Here are some tips to help your company drive the conversation and reap the benefits that can come as a result.  

Understand why you are engaged

Before you can tell any story, you need to be clear on the purpose and the why. Companies would do well to think about these questions:

-What does CSR mean to our company, and why is it important?

-What are we trying to accomplish through our involvement?

-Who can we partner with to help us achieve our goals?

-How will our involvement benefit our company and our stakeholders, and help advance change in societal issues?

It is best when companies align their focus areas with their corporate goals and objectives, employee interests and needs, and community issues.

Clearly articulate what you are doing

Once you understand why you are engaged, articulate the value of your efforts. Being able to articulate your message is the difference between bragging and genuine commitment to good corporate citizenship and social change.

Corporate storytelling with Good Done Great

Tell the story using multiple communication vehicles

Make sure your story is being told using a variety of channels. The time-proven methods of annual reports and press releases are still valid. Recent years have seen a growth in the number of companies publishing an annual corporate social responsibility report. All of these are effective and demonstrate the company’s commitment to social change. More and more companies are turning to social media. All of these vehicles can and should be used.

The Cone Report found that 79% of consumers say they are more likely to believe a company’s CSR commitments if they share their efforts along multiple channels.

Use your partners to tell the story. They also have communication networks and channels. More storytellers make for a better story.

Engage employees as storytellers

Feature employees who are actively engaged in giving and volunteering. Use their faces and stories in your social media campaigns and printed reports. Additionally, encourage employees to tell the story to their friends and family. They can use their individual social networks to push out the story even further.  Engaging employees personalizes the story and demonstrates genuine commitment and authenticity.

The Cone Research report found that millennials are likely to tell friends and family about the CSR efforts of their employer and of companies that are committed to social change.

Promote partnerships and encourage participation

In your story, show how you have partnered with others to address a critical need and then invite those reading your story to engage with you. Consumers want to know what you are doing and how their personal actions can make a difference. They also said they appreciate a bold or daring message that makes them think differently. Use your story to invite their participation and action.

Companies are in a unique position to serve as the educator, the convener, and the catalyst for those wanting to make a difference. It all begins with joining the conversation and telling their story.  Be a driver and a catalyst for doing good and reap the benefits that come from being an engaged and involved corporation.

This post was authored by Steve Greenhalgh, our Managing Director of CSR Strategy.

Top 10 CSR social media accounts to follow today

Social media is the perfect platform to share images, facts, quotes, and statistics surrounding your corporate philanthropy efforts. More and more consumers utilize social media to discover information on CSR and engage with companies on CSR-related issues.

We’ve pulled together a list of our favorite brands and CSR strategists that we can all take some tips from to up our CSR social media game. 

1- PPG

PPG is a global company that provides paints, coatings, and materials. They utilize Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to share information on their giving and volunteering initiatives. Their own CSR-dedicated Twitter account, @ppg_communities, highlights their PPG Foundation grants and volunteer program, #ColorfulCommunities.

PPG Good Done Great Social Media

2- Ecolab Foundation

Ecolab, the global leader in water, hygiene, and energy technologies, utilizes Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to educate consumers on water scarcity and food safety. These two cause areas correspond directly with their core business.

Their Twitter account, @EcolabFdn, features grant recipients and their employee volunteers. They tweet using #EcolabGives to highlight their work in the community.

Hashtags are a great way to encourage your followers to engage with and follow your content.

3- PwC Foundation

The PwC Foundation utilizes their Twitter account, @PwCFoundation, to promote their cause areas including veteran affairs and youth education. They share articles their employees pen surrounding their personal connection with cause areas. This is a great way to humanize the causes that the PwC Foundation supports.

4- Whole Kids Foundation

The Whole Kids Foundation’s Instagram feed is filled with colorful images of fruits, vegetables, and smiling faces of children who receive support from the foundation. This foundation, one of the Whole Foods Market Foundations, supports schools and inspires families to improve childhood nutrition and wellness. They encourage their followers to post photos with #growinghealthykids to share their work in growing gardens that support the health and wellness of children.

Good Done Great Whole Kids Foundation Social Media

Are you in need of facts and research that support your Corporate Social Responsibility activities? Look no further than these three twitter accounts…

5- @EdelmanPurpose

Edelman is known the world over for their work promoting and protecting the world’s most respected and trusted brands. Their Twitter account features research and insight on the latest CSR buzzwords and themes including finding your social purpose and demonstrating the business case for sustainability. If you are in need of helpful facts or the latest CSR research, follow @EdelmanPurpose.

6- @CECPtweets

We’ve been fans of CECP for awhile now as they bring together business leaders committed to social responsibility. Their Giving in Numbers report provides statistics and trends regarding current CSR programs of some of the biggest brands; this information helps other companies benchmark their efforts. Check out their feed for highlights surrounding current happenings in the CSR space.

7- @RealizedWorth

RealizedWorth works with companies to motivate employees to participate in volunteering and giving programs. Their inspiring and informational content spurs readers into action. Join over 11,900 of their followers to stay on top of content such as “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose: Framing the Volunteer Experience.”

Edelman, CECP, and RealizedWorth fill their Twitter accounts with CSR facts and statistics. Provide your followers with similar information, and they will view you and your brand as thought leaders.

To round out our list of top 10 CSR-related social media accounts, here are three of our favorite tweeters in this space.

8- Ingrid Embree – @trulyingrid

Ingrid, Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships, at GlobalGiving shares both informational and inspiring tweets featuring feel-good giving stories. If you are interested in staying on top of the latest in CSR and sustainable development, you will find Ingrid’s account filled with information on the SDGs, skills-based volunteering, and news on relevant causes including the refugee crisis.

9- Shannon Schuyler – @ShannonSchuyler

Shannon is the Chief Purpose Officer at PwC and the President of the PwC Foundation. Her Twitter feed features stories of her fellow colleagues and their personal passions and causes in addition to articles and facts on purpose in the workplace. She keeps her feed current by featuring events including Teacher Appreciation Week and Military Appreciation Month. These celebrated days feature new causes that inspire us to give back.

10- Aman Singh – @AmanSinghCSR

Aman has years of experience in CSR from her role as VP, Business + Social Purpose at Edelman to her work with CSRwire and her current role at Futerra.

Her 19,000+ Twitter followers receive news on everything from the circular economy to climate change and open positions in sustainability. In 160 characters or less, she inspires her followers to take action.

Ingrid, Shannon, and Aman engage their followers with content that not only informs but inspires. Successful social media accounts inform their followers while inspiring and encouraging them to take action.

If you are looking to up your Twitter or social media game, these ten brands and individuals serve as inspiration and provide invaluable CSR research. Take example from the above accounts and turn your neutral stakeholders into positive CSR brand ambassadors!

Volunteerism Knows No Bounds

Every day, all over the world, tens of thousands of corporate employees volunteer their time, talent and energy to make a difference in the world. The practice of offering corporate volunteer programs has grown from a “nice-to- do” community relations effort into a globally recognized strategic asset that benefits society, the employees who volunteer, and the companies that encourage and support their work.

A 2015 study conducted by America’s Charities revealed that volunteerism is the core around which companies are building employee engagement strategies and programs. Volunteerism has become the onramp to full employee engagement and is highly valued by today’s senior corporate leaders.

Companies see the tangible benefits that volunteer programs bring such as increased commitment, stronger teamwork, higher employee morale, and stronger corporate brand and reputation. Recognizing the benefits of corporate volunteer programs, companies are looking for ideas and opportunities to take them to employees at all locations throughout the world.

While there are unique challenges to conducting an international volunteer program, the benefits far exceed the challenges. Many companies are overcoming the challenges and implementing effective global volunteer programs. Today, I want to offer some practical ideas to engage international employees in volunteer efforts.

Think Global, Volunteer Local

There are many opportunities to engage global employees in volunteer activities. The key is to think global but volunteer local. Adapt what you are currently doing within the U.S. to locations around the world. Be aware of cultural differences but keep in mind, most programs will resonate globally.

Here are some examples of what companies are doing to take their programs beyond borders and around the globe.

Establish local committees in key locations

around the world to identify and support volunteer projects. Employees act as ambassadors by encouraging other employees to participate. Use existing employee organizations such as affinity groups to help identify volunteer projects. Many of these groups already engage in volunteerism in their particular area of interest. Use these groups to provide a leadership structure and communications network to assist in promoting volunteerism.

International Volunteerism Good Done Great

Implement Global Days of Service

– these are becoming more common. Companies will designate time where employees unite with their colleagues in a company-wide initiative. These events can be one day or spread out over a week or a month. It is best for global companies to support a longer period of time where employees can engage to allow for flexibility and to accommodate the needs and culture of the local offices. According to the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) about 30 percent of companies offer a company-wide Day of Service internationally.

General Mills conducts a global service initiative around Earth Day. The initiative focuses on hunger, nutrition and sustainability, and environmental community projects. In 2015, more than 2,000 General Mills employees from 60 locations around the world volunteered more than 10,000 hours in their communities.

Use volunteer activities to support corporate philanthropic focus areas.

Ashland has a giving pillar around education. In Latin America, Ashland employees partner with a local school to provide mentors, tutors, and other volunteers. In China, a similar program exists where employees are teamed with migrant and other schools to support classrooms and innovation labs. Ashland has found that global employees like having an opportunity to be involved and feel they are making a difference by tying their volunteer service back to the company and its core focus areas.

Do virtual or onsite volunteer projects.

Partner with a local NGO to identify a specific project such as building hygiene or birthing kits that could be done at the workplace.

Utilize technology

as a key component of global volunteer programs. Make sure your platform is robust and supports the identification and promotion of employee volunteer projects. It is also a good idea to create online opportunities for employees to share their personal stories about volunteer opportunities. Technology can also help recognize and reward employees for their team and individual volunteer efforts.

International volunteering is on the rise which means additional opportunities to make an impact beyond just the giving of dollars. Companies need it, employees want it and NGOs welcome it.

Is Workplace Giving Dead or Changing?

Is the workplace giving campaign dead? This question has been debated for the last couple of years as critics argue that workplace giving is an old model that needs to go away because it doesn’t resonate with today’s employees. They cite evidence of declining participation, less dependency on payroll giving and significant growth in the number of ways individuals can contribute to the charity or cause of their choice outside the workplace.

Supporters argue that giving at the workplace is not dead but is stronger than ever before. They point to the growth in the number of companies that are offering employees an opportunity to rally behind a cause and engage with their peers in a united effort at the workplace. Those who support giving at the workplace note that there is evidence of an increasing number of companies that have moved from a once-a-year campaign to more of a year round giving model.  A recent survey, Snapshot 2015, released by America’s Charities found that year-round giving is becoming the standard with more than 85% of large companies and 44% of small to mid-size companies saying their giving programs are open year-round. This is up from less than 50% in 2013. The time of the annual giving campaign at the workplace is over.

Year round giving and volunteering were identified as the top components of a company’s employee engagement program according to the America’s Charities report. This same report found that providing year-round giving and volunteer opportunities is of the greatest value to company leadership.

Employees are passionate about causes that matter to them all year long, not just in the traditional autumn season of giving. Giving needs to be ongoing, exciting and conducted on behalf of causes that both the company and employees care deeply about. Developing a culture of giving back requires workplace giving programs that engage people year round. Statistics suggest that the emerging employee population prefer to give at any time and perhaps even at multiple times if there is a need and a connection to them either personally or through their network.

Workplace Giving Good Done GreatSuccessful year round giving programs will change the giving experience from a once-a-year transaction to an ongoing transformational experience where employees are changed by the experience and desire to be involved both as a giver and a volunteer rather than out of duty or obligation to a boss or company executive.

The shift to year round giving does require action from companies. Here are some key points that will help ensure giving at the workplace remains relevant to employees, provide a vehicle to raise money, and ensure a positive giving experience for employees

1. Have a focus in giving and be sure to include causes which tap into the passion of employees and build excitement for corporate supported causes.

2. Ensure the authentic involvement of leadership in both giving and volunteer initiatives.

3. Use employees as champions and ambassadors and allow them to promote causes to their peers and colleagues.

4. Provide ongoing regular communications with employees, provide them with feedback, and share stories that demonstrate the impact of their giving and volunteer efforts.

5. Use social media tools to connect and network with employees.

6. Provide a company match as an incentive to participate.

7. Make the experience transformative not transactional.

The future is bright. The goal is to make workplace giving an activity that empowers and engages employees throughout the year. Giving at the workplace provides employees with the tools to learn about charities, and give their time, talent, and money to causes they care about. It’s easy and convenient.

Employees take pride in working for a company that demonstrates good corporate social responsibility and allows them to engage and support causes they care about. Giving at the workplace will continue to thrive if we have a plan, pay attention to the details, and engage and empower employees.

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.