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HomeBusiness & FinanceHow to Build Employee Buy-In Into Your Corporate Giving

How to Build Employee Buy-In Into Your Corporate Giving



You know your employees are passionate about the causes and charities they support.  So why does their excitement wane when it comes to championing your company’s philanthropic initiatives?

This phenomenon may be frustrating but it’s not unusual. Frequently, poor employee commitment toward corporate giving stems from a misalignment between executives’ goals and workers’ preferences. For instance, many organizations defer to the C-suite to choose which nonprofits deserve to receive funds. But if team members aren’t on board with those choices, they aren’t likely to get excited about them. As a result, the company’s corporate giving program participation and promotion begin to decline.

What’s the most straightforward method to resolve this issue? Above all else, find ways to empower your employees to have a bigger say in your company’s philanthropic endeavors. Not only will you be more likely to see a stronger corporate giving response but you may see an uptick in employee engagement, too. That’s a huge benefit, especially with employee engagement numbers falling to 34 percent per Gallup. 

It’s time to refresh and update your philanthropic giving so it feels more personal to your employees. Try these strategies to start.

1. Match your employees’ giving. 

One way to jumpstart corporate giving is with a matching program. This isn’t unlike what many employers do with 401(k) benefits. Instead of earmarking money toward workers’ retirements, though, you’d be earmarking funds toward their preferred charities.

As shown in a recent report from Groundswell, a corporate giving platform, this perk is something workers want. A majority of participants (60 percent) said they’d feel more aligned with their employers’ values if they received a charitable giving stipend. And a majority of employees (60 percent) reported that a corporate match would encourage them to be more generous.

How much should you match and how should you make matching easy? Work with your CFO to determine the right dollar amount or percentage. Remember that any matches will affect your business’s taxes. At the same time, look for friction-free ways to streamline your system such as using an app that can aggregate everyone’s contributions in one space.

2. Launch a volunteer grant program.

Like employee giving matches, volunteer grant programs can be excellent tools to help your workers contribute. Volunteer grants are a little different, though, and are based on volunteer sessions.

Take Apple’s Double the Donation program, for example. Double the Donation offers $25 per hour toward employees’ time spent volunteering at charity organizations. Consequently, if an Apple worker spends three hours serving at a nonprofit’s event, Apple will donate $75 to the organization.

You can set up your volunteer grant program any way you’d like, including having monthly, quarterly, or annual per-worker caps. Don’t forget to think about your part-time versus full-time employees. Some businesses choose to offer volunteer grant programs for everyone, whereas others focus only on full-timers.

Don’t be afraid to shine a spotlight on your volunteer grant initiative once it’s up and running. Job seekers, consumers, and investors are increasingly interested in knowing about how companies are “doing good.”

3. Brand your corporate giving.

For many companies, corporate philanthropy isn’t just something that’s done. It’s something that’s publicized on social media. Procter & Gamble (P&G) leverages its #leadwithlove campaigns and initiatives to highlight its various global contributions. The corporation regularly gets press by using the #leadwithlove hashtag as a philanthropic “anchor tag.” In that way, P&G has been able to highlight its acts of goodwill to spur more interest and fuel a sense of solidarity among its employees and brand loyalists.

Even if your company is at the startup or small phase, you can develop a corporate giving brand and corresponding motto. To ensure buy-in from your team members, invite them to participate in the development of the corporate giving umbrella or entity. Ask for feedback through surveys or during focus groups. Then, set up a corporate giving committee with representatives across your departments and levels. 

You get to set the parameters of your giving, of course. Nevertheless, allowing employees to design a corporate giving movement will provide them with a say. Additionally, they may float corporate philanthropy ideas you never considered based on where they worked before.

Once you have a brand in place, make sure to fold it into your marketing and outreach–and always use appropriate hashtags. In time, your philanthropic brand identity will become another way to back up your business’s core mission, vision, and purpose.

When it comes to corporate giving, employees aren’t content to just sit back and let executives call all the shots. They want their voices to come through, too. By updating your corporate giving initiatives, you can exceed their expectations and strengthen their ties to your team. 

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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