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.
Successful 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.