Employee Giving: A Fountain of Corporate Youth?

fountain of youth resized 600It’s no secret that corporate volunteer programs are a must.  One study (amongst many) shows that almost one-third of U.S. corporations now embrace some form of employee volunteering, representing a growth of nearly 150% in the last few decades.  Millennials in particular are demanding that office perks include the opportunity to volunteer as a part of their company’s supportive, inspiring and innovative program.  I hear it all the time – leaders at companies without these programs are realizing that young people aren’t knocking on their doors that often, and, consequently, their workforce is growing noticeably grayer. 

But if employee volunteer programs function as a corporate fountain of youth (amongst many other benefits, of course), what about employee giving programs?  Are companies also turning to these programs to stay attractive and relevant to the next generation? 



Or so it often seems.

Yes, employee volunteering is critical for so many reasons, but so is employee giving.  Nonprofits need sweat equity to pursue their mission – it takes a village, after all.  But they also need plain old equity to keep the lights on.  Employees want to give when they’re passionate about the cause, and they’re often already doing so anyway.  So when companies create interesting giving opportunities and support their employees with extras like matching programs, there’s a whole exciting world of corporate and community impact that can be explored to the hilt.  

Some companies, however, seem uncomfortable with the idea of employee giving programs. Perhaps they’re afraid of sending the wrong message or pressuring hardworking staff to part ways with cash instead of time.  Or maybe they lack the proper tools to make giving back easy, with features like automatic payroll deductions, instant matching and real-time reporting that take the headache out of managing these programs (that’s where a volunteer and giving platform like Causecast’s makes all the difference.)  

This sort of perspective prevents companies from enjoying the myriad engaging, social and often downright fun giving opportunities that happen when preparation meets creativity. Disaster relief campaigns, for example, channel widespread employee concern into effective action that bolster company pride (for more on that, read this case study on corporate disaster relief).  And when companies gamify giving by attaching prizes to crowdfunding events, the result can be an interactive joyride that helps employees love coming to work (want proof? Read this case study on corporate crowdfunding.)  Companies that offer well-run giving programs get back as much as they help their employees give, in the form of increased employee engagement, diversified touchpoints into their communities and stronger legacies of impact.

Need help unlocking the creative spigot?  Here are some ideas to get you started. 

Game on.  Be it charades, Cranium or color wars, team-based games offer the opportunity to raise money for causes through entrance fees charged to employees, sponsorships of competing employees or other creative channels (e.g., charging for game chips at a company casino day.)  Prizes are the cherry on top; find the budget for them, get them donated or, best yet, offer unique and free prizes like dinner with the CEO.

Spice up seasonal giving.  Why wait ‘til Christmas?  Supplement end of year toy drives with out of the box ideas such as a Thanksgiving fundraiser for a local soup kitchen; all donors receive a cookbook collection of soup recipes compiled by employees.  Holidays throughout the year offer a focal point for giving – even Valentine’s Day, Groundhog Day, President’s Day…all can be turned into moments for giving back.

In-kind we trust.  Many companies have the ability to make in-kind donations.  Put a spin on dollars for doers and matching gifts by complementing all employee-generated donations with in-kind donations from the company.

Mini-microfunder.  Launch a crowdfunding campaign with a twist; no donation can exceed a wee limit (whatever that may be).  Employees compete to raise the most donations, but this time the winner will be determined solely by the quantity of donors, not the size of donations.

The agony of defeat.  Organize participating employees into teams, with an odious consequence befalling the losing team.  Winners pick the poison – be it delegating work, wearing “loser” shirts, washing the cars of triumphant team members…the torture is endless. 

And don’t forget the 3 F’s of corporate giving: food, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and first place (my past blog on this explains).

Really, the only limit to your corporate giving program is the bounds of your imagination.  So think about the giving imprint you’d like to establish for your company, the corporate culture you want to create and the best ways to engage your employees in fundraising.  Then light the fire of employee giving and keep it burning throughout the year.

Related articles:

Best Non-Profit Fundraising Idea? Corporate Philanthropy

Corporate Volunteerism and Fundraising for Incurable Cynics

Matching Gifts Program Definition (Matching Grant)


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