Letter to a CEO: Why Your Corporate Philanthropy Is Languishing

CEO listeningDear CEO:

Your heart is in the right place, it really is.  

You know that corporate volunteering and giving are essential programs to have in place at your company if you want to create a positive culture and brand, keep your employees engaged, and recruit top talent – especially Millennials.  And giving back to your community is important not just for the benefits it accrues to your company but also, of course, for the support it offers to the nonprofits and causes you care so deeply about.  You’d like to get your company on track with volunteering and giving, and maybe you’re even scoring a few base hits here and there with your efforts.

But…can I be honest here?  You’re going about it all wrong.  And unfortunately, you’re only scratching the surface of your company’s potential, making the lives of your program administrators needlessly stressful, and – worst of all – failing to inspire your employees or bring out the best in them (or even bring them out to participate at all), which undermines the whole point of your cause venture in the first .  

Here’s where you’re missing the boat:     

1.  You don’t have a comprehensive system for tracking every philanthropic move your employees and company makes, from instant disaster response campaigns to paper donation receipts to online corporate competitive crowdfunding.

2.  You don’t have a person or company who’s in charge of properly engaging your employee volunteers, which would include following up after volunteer events to collect feedback, capture stories of success and failure and other soft data points around your community impact.

3.  You don’t have a robust and interactive group campaign infrastructure so you can engage employees with each other.  Mostly, you’re just letting your employees dig around an online graveyard of outdated or incomplete volunteer opportunities by themselves and then wondering why they don’t seem engaged.  

4.  You’re making your employees fill out forms to take advantage of dollars for doers and volunteer grants, thus ensuring a measly 7% adoption rate.  

5.  You’re only allowing your employees to engage in your giving program at the end of the year, because that’s all your vendor can handle.

6.  You’re limiting your employees’ giving and volunteering activities to a few approved nonprofits.  After all, employees love supporting your favorite golf charity instead of supporting their own, right?

7.  You haven’t learned how to measure and communicate your corporate philanthropy success in a clear and compelling way to all the different stakeholders of your volunteer and giving programs – everyone from your employees to your consumers to your shareholders.

8.  You use press releases to inform the world about your CSR efforts rather than individual, compelling and ultimately more sharable stories of service.

9.  You disincentivize busy professionals by not giving them any time off to serve as an inspired brand ambassador of your organization.

10.  You provide neither the infrastructure nor compelling campaigns to engage employees as a group.  Maybe you don’t realize that the best engagement comes from employees engaging with each other in doing something to help other people.  That shared mission and proximity to the people they are serving creates a transformative experience for your staff…which you’re not anywhere close to imparting.

11.  You compel employees to use janky software for their volunteering and giving efforts that is several tiers beneath what are used to in their daily lives online.  Rather than using state of the art software like Causecast’s volunteering and giving platform, which makes everything about these programs easy, interactive, social, mobile, trackable and reportable in real time.

12.  Or worse, you’ve developed custom software with technology that’s locked in to the day it was created… unless you want to keep it updated by spending sums more exorbitant than what you spent to create it in the first place.

13.  You fund employee engagement, corporate philanthropy and workplace giving by pinching pennies so hard they’re yelping, with the one part-time person in charge of everything continuously getting pulled onto other projects, thereby ensuring these efforts will languish.

14.  You don’t measure the true value of your program so you can understand the case for increasing your budget.

My friend, I know you hold your business and operations to high standards, and you want to do the same for your volunteer and giving program.  And I think you think those standards are being met, probably because you don’t realize what’s possible – and aren’t clear on the disarray beneath the hood.

I hope you’ll take this little talk to heart and give some thought to treating your volunteer and giving programs with the same respect as the rest of your business.  If you water and feed these programs right, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll get back in return, in the form of wondrous employee engagement, recruitment and retention powers. 

Please do call me if you want to discuss further!  I’m here to help.

Yours truly,

Ryan Scott, CEO and Founder, Causecast


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