5 Tips for Boosting Participation in Employee Giving Programs

A pA person wearing a tshirt that says VOLUNTEER is holding a cardboard box that is laveled FOOD and AID. They are standing in front of a white van that says FOOD SUPPLIES.erson wearing a tshirt that says VOLUNTEER is holding a cardboard box that is laveled FOOD and AID. They are standing in front of a white van that says FOOD SUPPLIES.

There’s no denying the numbers. Companies, no matter the size or market, report immense benefits from a corporate responsibility strategy.

Whether the approach is via pro bono work, virtual volunteering hours, or fundraising, corporate social responsibility attracts new employees and maintains engagement throughout your team.

Unfortunately, though job seekers and employees are calling for these programs, participation numbers haven’t always reflected the enthusiasm. There are many possible causes and solutions to low participation in workplace giving, and inspiring your team to get involved might be a little less complicated than you first imagined.

71% of employees surveyed say it’s imperative or very important to work where company culture is supportive of giving and volunteering.

Make Giving Accessible

The logistics of your corporate social responsibility program can be a deterrent to participation as well. Technology has eased many challenges, but it has also increased the expectations of your team. Employees want participation to be easily integrated within existing processes. For example, charitable matching and volunteering programs are placed within the system that tracks payroll or time off. This means employees are naturally prompted to give and assist while doing tasks they would do anyway. If you work with a corporate philanthropy program that integrates into any of your existing employee programs, you’re already one step ahead!

Matching gift programs are one of the most effective ways to engage employees in corporate philanthropy. In fact, according to Double the Donation, 65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gift programs, yet an estimated $4 – $7 billion in matching gift funds goes unclaimed per year. Matching gifts are appealing (with 84% of surveyed participants saying they’re more likely to donate if a match is offered) as they directly involve employees in corporate philanthropy and for causes of their choosing no less.

Of course, accessibility is far more than just technology and can be as simple as communication. Employees might need their company to proactively communicate opportunities being sponsored or remove obstacles, accessibility can be as simple as an automated email asking employees to contribute or reminding them of an upcoming drive or giving event. Give employees ideas on how they can assist and show them just how far their contributions can go with tangible examples.

Many companies have also completely flipped their philanthropy strategies and made recurring giving programs a cornerstone of their overall corporate citizenship efforts. Providing year-round giving and volunteer opportunities versus “one and done” annual campaigns creates opportunities that become the highest value initiatives.

What’s the measurable significance of the shift to recurring giving? For one, recurring gifts provide a steady source of funding for nonprofits, so corporations and their non-profit partners are better able to respond quickly to natural disasters and other unpredictable events.

Recurring giving provides both employees and non-profit partners more-agile modes of gifting and funding that greatly increase a corporation’s societal impact.

Try! Begin listing community opportunities or featuring a specific nonprofit each month within a company newsletter or internal email or devote a set number of volunteering hours for employees to use on pro bono work.

Offer Flexible Giving Options

Payroll integration is a tool that allows your employees to give to a cause or charity straight from their gross salary. Payroll integration provides a multitude of benefits to companies, charities, and employees.

Providing employees with the choice to make monetary donations straight from their paycheck is the most common component of employee engagement. Increase your employee giving participation by adding payroll integration into your corporate social responsibility program and reap these benefits:

Payroll deductions are an easy, tax-effective route for employees to give monetary donations. This option allows employees to give more with less work. 79% of people prefer to work for a socially responsible company, and by doing so raises overall happiness and productivity levels.

Creating a workplace of happiness is made easier by encouraging giving and offering opportunities for employees to make an impact. 

How can you introduce this concept to employees? Some of the most attractive features you can emphasize about payroll integration are:

  • It’s easy to set up and requires very little additional work (for the employee or employer)
  • Employees can choose to give to any cause they believe to be important to them
  • Payroll integration can work alongside company Matching Gift programs
  • CSR software that provides this tool allow employees to customize their accounts with amount and frequency

Try! Put together a plan of action today. Prioritize investing in CSR software that integrates with your payroll system, or optimize what you have in place. Promote the payroll integration throughout your company and get employees to sign up to make regular donations. Also, consider one time direct donations via credit card giving.

Keep Involvement Local

They say, “Charity begins at home.” Being familiar with philanthropy and having a personal connection to its work naturally raises our interest in lending our time or finances. Your team is composed of many individuals from various walks of life with their very own set of causes they hold dear, so what resonates with one person may not hit home quite as close with another. However, participation increases when people see results, and nowhere is that easier than with a local charity or organization.

Open your company up to employees, and encourage them to share their experiences along with their talents. For example, Exelon respects and supports local communities through their workplace giving campaign. It engages all employees and retirees to find an organization that best exemplifies what they care about. At CyberGrants, we’re always encouraging our clients to talk to their employees to find out which programs resonate with them before putting a corporate giving program into place.

Try! Send a year or bi-annual employee survey to encourage employee input and interest. Ask questions that gauge the types of causes employees hold dear as well as specific charities, local or international.

Diversify the Program

Choice is key. Constructing a giving program that opens up opportunities to employees makes participation inextricably more appealing. Diversity helps you cater to far more lifestyles, something of which your workforce is made up of, regardless of employee numbers. For example, young parents can participate in matching programs while employees with more availability can work on after hour volunteering. A graphic designer or financial planner can offer pro bono skills-based services.

It is important to allow donor choice – when a charitable choice is given, employee participation increases.

Opening up to those possibilities lifts restrictions on employees time-wise, but a diversified program also accounts for the many life experiences of your people, as well. The individuals who join your team come with causes dear to their hearts. By providing employees the ability to choose which nonprofits they support or where they volunteer their time, you increase the emotional involvement of each individual.

Try! Start small by offering an incentive for participation in the company philanthropic program, whether it is money or time. 

Provide Resources

Philanthropic programs are no different than any other initiative with leadership buy-in. They require proper staffing, tool provisions, and an execution plan with measurements for success. Many companies make the mistake of treating this process as unique and therefore become overwhelmed by the sheer idea of its implementation. The best thing you can do is give practical, actionable ideas to your employees. Instead of “Join our charity drive here.” try specific statements like: “Sign up here to donate 30 minutes of PTO to our local 2nd graders and feed a hungry child for a day.” It’s specific, simple, and shows the immediate impact.

Try! Follow business process protocol from beginning to end, including a communication plan that ensures your employees are well-educated on how to participate, guidelines, and what benefits they can expect to see if they meet certain goals.

As you work through the challenges of building a corporate social responsibility program, remember philanthropy comes in many different shapes and sizes. The key is to create, support, and drive a program that meets the needs of your company values and employee passions the lie within your people and leadership. With CyberGrants, employee engagement and participation are only a few clicks away. See how we can help your team make an even greater impact.


This post was originally published on the CyberGrants blog.