We live in pretty amazing times…corporate giving long-term success our world has changed much over the past twenty-five years; today its smaller and interconnected with the widespread availability and evolution of three key enablers – computers, the Internet, and mobile/wireless communications. We have brought people closer and increased their desire to do more for each other.
An example is the online learning platforms for all sorts of things – where people freely share their expertise without expectation of reward… driven by a genuine desire to make the world a better place. Humanity was on display at its finest after a giant tornado ripped through Oklahoma in May 2014, and after Typhoon Haiyan tore through the Philippines in November 2013… with strong outpouring of support and all forms of aid – cash, volunteering, supplies, etc. – a wave of sympathy and support driven by individuals coming together to help, and driving their organizations to be more socially responsible.
Where, earlier, corporations would typically send a corporate cash grant or supplies to philanthropic causes, today, giving is driven by well-informed and well-intentioned individuals who want to bring their skills and passions to bear on causes they care about.
#1: Engage Your Employees Right Upfront
So as you think about CSR initiatives, it must engage and involve employees at the earliest stage, encourage their active participation, solicit their input (on giving programs; perhaps through a short well-designed survey), and form a steering committee that represents employees across every level and division within the organization. When co-opted into the program from day-one, employees feel like equal participants in various giving initiatives, and influence colleagues to be more actively involved… making for a successful, sustainable and effective giving program.
Moreover, if done right, such programs foster a sense of workplace pride and job satisfaction, increase workplace productivity and lower employee turnover. Such programs also tend to take on a life of their own and become continuous year-long giving initiatives… making this a win-win across the board!
#2: Think Beyond “Cash”… to Volunteering and In-Kind Giving
Traditionally, corporate giving focused on cash sponsorships and donations. But in today’s more engaged age, employees want to be directly involved with causes dear to them. And research shows that from 2007 to 2012, non-cash contributions rose from 57% to almost 70% of all giving, and included in-kind resources, intellectual property, pro bono professional services, use of corporate assets and facilities, and product donations. Also, since 2007, there’s been a sharp rise (from 53% to 70%) in the percentage of companies offering paid-time-off for volunteer programs.
Receiving organizations also value non-cash contributions such as skilled, enthusiastic and hands-on resources, intellectual contributions, innovative outside solutions, and useful products… simply because money alone cannot solve the world’s problems.
So CSR programs should encourage volunteering where employees deploy their skills and expertise to help philanthropic initiatives, such as by setting up communications networks, coordinating aid activities between givers and receivers so the right kinds of aid flow in, etc.
#3: Tap into Resources Linked to Your Corporation – Such as Customers, Partners and Suppliers
Many corporations encourage employees’ families to participate in charitable giving. But organizations could increase the effectiveness, size and scope of in-house giving programs by involving customers, partners and suppliers into the giving network – while also strengthening bonds with customers and other stakeholders. Surveys have regularly shown that customers, stakeholders and even shareholders favorably view organizations that are sincerely involved in giving back. So “extending” your giving program can also provide strategic advantages.
#4: Spend a Little, Get a Lot… Invest in a Good Giving Platform
A corporate giving program involves a lot of paperwork, accounting, bookkeeping and administration. Fortunately, there are a few robust software platforms that are specially designed to handle CSR programs. These platforms manage administrative tasks and typically help you build configurable browser-basef portals that your employees can access through smart devices 24/7.
A good giving program leverages technology to disseminate information on upcoming or ongoing philanthropic opportunities, enable automatic billing or payroll deduction, match grants, process checks, generate reports, analyze results, etc. A portal also helps you publish newsletter stories, celebrate achievements and update blog posts with the click of a button. So take advantage of a good technology-based CSR platform so you spend more time on what matters and less on routine tasks.
#5: Think Long-Term
It’s easy, and tempting, to say “we’ll just start small with our CSR initiative and see where it goes”, but that itself could make it a self fulfilling prophecy. Instead, design your initiative for the long run and nurture it steadily so it becomes a integral part of your organization’s DNA.