5 Simple Things You Can Do Today to Encourage Employees to Give Back
This article on Corporate Social Responsibility first appeared on September 27, 2016 and was updated with new information on Employee Giving Programs and Corporate Social Responsibility on September 17, 2021.
In the past few years, corporate social responsibility has become more and more of a hot-button issue for Americans. Approximately 70% of Americans believe it’s either “somewhat” or “very important” for companies to make the world a better place.
Though that may seem like a vague concept, the sheer number of people who share this sentiment indicates a significant desire to work with companies with responsibility and a positive mission. That’s where corporate social responsibility comes into play, but the entire company has to believe and adopt the mission for it to work.
Picture this: Your company strategized a corporate giving program after hearing all the fantastic corporate social responsibility program benefits. You researched causes, found local nonprofits, and spread the information on how to participate in the program.
The air around the project was positive, both from the employees and the implementation team. By all accounts, the program should be a success with a great deal of participation. Yet, by the conclusion of the program, numbers and donations were lackluster.
Don’t be alarmed. It’s a fixable problem.
This exact situation might be your biggest fear in implementing a CSR program of your own or, even worse; this scenario sounds oddly familiar. Whichever it may be, employee participation is probably a concern. Lose the anxiety. Use these five tips to encourage your employees to give back with your company giving program.
1. Focus on the Mission.
One Gallup survey found 81% of people cite an organization’s mission as a significant factor in their decision to donate, which shouldn’t be all that surprising. People don’t contribute to charities; they donate to causes.
Even if employees love your company, culture, and values, they won’t necessarily support your philanthropy. To answer this need, consider open giving programs that allow employees to choose the nonprofits they support. With CyberGrants, your employees can choose from up to 1.7 million fully qualified tax-exempt charities.
2. Make it Convenient.
Obviously, a corporate giving program surrounds the workplace. That’s very much the point, but it does pose challenges. For one, productive employees are usually pretty busy during their workday. That means that if the company giving program requires too many hoops to participate in, then most employees just won’t have the bandwidth.
Simply having a collection jar on every floor or designating department managers as the point of contact can make a difference in a few donors and entire teams of employees giving. If possible, bring the giving process onto a digital platform. A “one-stop-shop” CSR software will make it so that employees won’t have to leave their desks to participate no matter what direction your company takes.
3. Support an Emotional Tie.
A majority of individuals want to identify with the mission of an organization before donating to it. Still, the same Gallup survey found 57% of people contribute to make a difference while 54% donate because they believe it to be the right thing to do.
Whatever their motivation, help build a sense of community and engagement by offering employees opportunities that meet them where they're at, from virtual volunteerism to credit card giving.
Perhaps choosing the right direction for your corporate giving program is something a little more spontaneous. For example, local or national disasters are not easily predicted but require just as much attention as long-standing issues.
Prepare your internal implementation or management team for these types of short notice giving programs so that they can get them off the ground quickly. The timeliness of a disaster inspires participation, but the greatest gift of the program will know that your organization is playing an active part in helping to bounce back and rebuild.
4. Communicate and Exhilarate.
How to best communicate a corporate giving program to employees is always a considerable challenge. The most fantastic program that interests every employee could very well receive no support simply because the team didn’t know how to participate or, worse, that the program existed.
Of course, merely stating details won’t engage all employees in CSR. You must strike a chord and excite your team. Aside from aesthetics, consider telling stories of those who have been helped in the past. If your company received a thank-you note from a previous project, share it.
To maximize CSR engagement, your company will need to choose more than one avenue of communication. For example, consider sharing the CSR program in the monthly newsletter and sending a quick email out at lunchtime about donating.
Tack on creative reminders to the company intranet at the end of the day. Your organization has a unique approach to internal communication, which means your management team will know what will best resonate with employees within your company.
5. Research and Reflect
When a project within your program is complete, reflect on it. In our busy world of balancing business with community involvement, it’s easy to create a process and continue to follow it without giving much thought to how it works. Implementing a successful CSR program takes input from your employees.
Create a way to solicit feedback from your people easily. Schedule an actual round table meeting about what is to come and how past programs have worked, or develop an employee survey. Maybe a meeting of the managers will be enough to find out what will motivate employee participation. When employees feel they have a hand in developing your CSR, they are closer to the project and more engaged.
When companies create corporate giving programs, executive hearts are in the right place. We want employees to feel valued while helping the community to thrive. If you want more information on driving employee participation, download our white paper, Managing a Successful Long-Term Giving Program.