How to Start a Corporate Giving Program

As companies consider effective, modernized methods to connect with their employees, proactive giving plans and programs are becoming more popular – and more critical. It’s become readily apparent that enhancing and executing philanthropic programs, designed to not only give back but also attract and retain employees, benefits the community and the company as well.

While the benefits of having a corporate giving program are clear, for many businesses, the question remains: where do we start? Here’s a guide to help.


Step 1: Define the Company’s Mission and Values

First, take a step back. You should take a broad look at your company to understand its mission and values – including what causes and charities it currently supports. Ask yourself some questions: what are you doing today philanthropically? What do you want your giving program to look like? Which cause areas and specific charities are important to you? Do you want to support local community issues or global issues? The majority of companies do give back, though it is often reactive or without strategy around it.

It’s also important to set goals and benchmarks to track the progress of your corporate giving program, whether that is to achieve a certain percentage of employees engaged in giving, reaching the total matching funds, or another objective. You’ll want to gain insight into the performance and effectiveness of your program so it evolves as you meet your long-term corporate mission.

By having clearly defined mission, values and goals, your company will be able to align them with your corporate giving strategy.


Step 2: Involve Employees in Decisions

You should understand what matters to your employees as you venture into building out the program – after all, employee participation in the giving program is of paramount importance, as captivated employees will serve as brand ambassadors for your company. The best giving programs are the ones with the highest rate of engagement and the ones in which employees feel most connected. You can accomplish this by conducting a survey and determining which charities and causes resonate with your employees, which charities they currently give back to, where they volunteer and any personal connections to causes. When you offer employees the ability to give to causes they care about, you will see higher participation.

Further, by having a giving program in place, you are more likely to attract top talent. Per a study of employee engagement performed by Cone Communications, 58% of employees take a company’s social mission into account when considering where to work and will work for less pay. Meanwhile, 51% won’t work for a company that doesn’t have a social mission and 71% want employers to provide opportunities to help them make an impact.

In other words, employees want to be engaged, so it’s best to think about how to harness their enthusiasm to lead to greater participation.


Step 3: Incentivize Employee Participation

It’s important to recognize what matters most to employees as you try to increase participation in company-based philanthropic efforts. By giving your employees the choice of where to donate, it shows that you care about the issues that matter to them. Further, when you match donations, not only does the employee feel validated by your company’s support of their favorite cause, but it also increases participation rates.

To further incentivize employee participation, run campaigns to get employees consistently on the giving platform, curating campaigns based off the employee survey results from step 2.


Step 4: Tailor the Technology

Technology holds the key to a seamless and effective giving program that ensures employee participation. While there may be an upfront cost to incorporate modernized technology, like Philantech, it will pay dividends. It’s important to get employees excited about using the giving platform, reinforcing the company mission, leading to a bigger and more positive impact. Through tangible giving technology, employees can log into the platform and track donations as well as volunteer their time.

Modernized platforms can be designed to send out emails and/or newsletters to communicate with employees about their giving, keeping it top of mind. While making giving proactive rather than reactive fosters ongoing positive engagement, technology also enables immediate reaction to events, as was seen throughout COVID-19 and the ability to implement disaster relief campaigns and directed individual relief platforms. By tailoring technology, you are able to plan for the unexpected and involve both your employees and community.

Additionally, modern technology can deliver a crucial component for any giving program: transparency. Ensure that you have a platform through which you and your employees can see where donations are going and the impact they are making. Your employees will realize that, by giving through their employer, they can make a bigger impact than through other consumer giving platforms, since they’ll encounter fewer fees.


Step 5: Connect Giving and Employee Engagement

When you have many employees highly engaged in giving back to their community through a corporate giving program, it often leads to increased revenues for the company. With this in mind, highlight success stories through owned channels, like websites and blog posts, and social channels like LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. By getting the message across to all key stakeholders, the community can see how you give back and potentially join in, helping make a larger impact.

To bolster communication, invite employees to be involved in posting and sharing about their giving. In addition to external communication, consider using internal communication channels to spotlight your broad initiatives and individual employee accomplishments.

The definition of “giving” is changing, and anyone can be a philanthropist if they have access to the right tools and technology. What employers are discovering more and more is that employees want to be directly involved in their employers’ giving strategy and corporate responsibility efforts.

As you launch your modernized charitable giving program, we’re here to help answer your questions. We are looking forward to learning more about the incredible impact you and your employees are having on your community.

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