3 Mistakes Small Business are Making with Their Workplace Giving Program

“Build your business around being the most helpful to the world and don’t ever forget why you started giving back.”Ryan Devlin, This Bar Saves Lives


Workplace Giving and CSR

Year after year the companies that perform better with consumers are those companies that not only care about giving back but show they care. Workplace giving is no longer a program that is “nice to have”, but rather it is necessity to your company’s success.  Today, workplace giving is more flexible than ever thanks to technology and the growing demands of the millennial workforce.  Small businesses looking to innovate and rise above the noise of today’s competitive market are using workplace giving to accomplish this goal.

Let’s take a look at some of the pitfalls to avoid when getting started with workplace giving.   

Overlooking the Importance of Choice:

Everyone likes making their own decisions, and this holds true when it comes to causes they support.  Research shows that when charitable choice is given, employee precipitation increases (America’s Charities Snapshot Report).  

The world of workplace giving is changing rapidly. The days of companies supporting a handful of charities based on a decision from the top is over.  One recent study found that more than 63% of survey respondents indicated that it is extremely valuable that their employer offer choice of the individual nonprofit/cause he/she can give to.

The largest source of charitable giving in the U.S. comes from individuals. These individuals will demand choice when it comes to their workplace giving programs.  Companies that make it easy for employees to give to causes they care about see higher success rates.

Your employees will feel good about being able to support the causes that matter to them, and they will be happier about where they work. By empowering employee choice you will breath new life into your giving programs.  

Poor Communication of Programs and Difficult Guidelines:

The first two questions we ask our clients that are experiencing low employee participation numbers are 1) How are you communicating your programs to your employees? and 2) How easy it is for them to make a gift?  While these sound like simple questions, they mean everything in the world of workplace giving.  

Communicate clearly and communicate often, and make it easy for your employees to give when they feel inspired.  Mobile and web-based donations will be a key to success for the younger workforce.

Good Done Great provides outstanding workplace giving technology. That said, digital tools are never a replacement for good old-fashioned human touch. Ensure that your efforts to educate, encourage, and solicit employee participation are done through face-to-face interactions in addition to online channels. This is a great way to further engage your people and community.  

Not Bragging about Your Success:

We are taught at a young age that it is never polite to brag about yourself. Companies have historically followed this rule from fear of not appearing sincere in their philanthropy.  Don’t feel ashamed to tell your story.  In fact, by not telling your story your absence is speaking for you.  Stakeholders might assume you aren’t giving back as much as you should, so be a rule breaker and celebrate all the good work you are doing.  

To help share your story it is important to set goals and measure your impact.  Having goals and metrics help hold you accountable and further integrate your social impact work with your company culture.   Utilizing technology to support these goals can help you better track your impact and share results with your stakeholders.  

With the world of workplace giving continuing to evolve and grow, don’t get left behind.  Avoid these three common mistakes and watch your giving program take off.   For more information on getting started check out our post about FAQs for Small Businesses Launching a Matching Gift Program. 

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.