THE BLOG
12/17/2013 09:32 am ET Updated Feb 14, 2014

Giving at Work: 'Most Dramatic Shift We've Ever Seen'

With the holidays upon us, company giving campaigns are often in the workplace spotlight.  So what better time to assess a 2013 survey that offers eye-opening statistics about the increasing importance of workplace giving programs and the best way to manage these programs well?

The survey's biggest takeaway? Corporate giving is no longer just about giving; it's about creating fully integrated opportunities to engage employees.

The report, "Snapshot: Trends and Strategies to Engage Employees in Greater Giving," is the work of America's Charities, an organization that supports workplace campaigns. Its findings point towards a pronounced sea change in corporate giving, a vital channel for nonprofits that raises $3 billion every year.  It's also an increasingly important tool for employee engagement, one that workers (especially Millennials) have come to not only expect, but expect to be administered with creativity and advanced technology.

That's why, as the report notes, businesses are no longer wondering if they should offer an employee giving program, but rather, how they can maximize their efforts through corporate giving.

"Having been involved in all three of America's Charities workplace giving reports," says Steve Greenhalgh, Report Researcher and Senior Advisor to America's Charities, "This Snapshot reveals the most dramatic shift we've ever seen in employee giving."

One of the report's conclusions is that in order to be effective with their employee-directed corporate philanthropy, companies need to consolidate their efforts.  Forget about the old way of doing things, where volunteering, giving, pro bono work and engagement were all separate buckets spread out over the company. Businesses now recognize that all of these practices fall within the same camp and need to function as a coordinated effort.
 
Workplace giving needs to offer plenty of on-ramps to engagement.  Fundraising and networking events are increasingly popular, with more than 50 percent companies having increased the number of giving events they offer.  Over 90 percent of companies surveyed give their employees the opportunity to select from a "wide and diverse range of charitable organizations."  Peer-to-peer interactivity and social media tools must be integrated into giving to maximize engagement, which is why more than half of the surveyed companies intend to incorporate more social media tools into giving activities.  

Workplace giving programs should also keep the pedal to the metal.  Why limit giving to the Fall, after all?  A growing number of companies are wondering the same thing and now enabling giving throughout the year.

Of paramount interest, corporate matches are becoming more common, as businesses recognize that matching is a key tool to motivate employee giving through the workplace rather than individually. "Nearly two-thirds of employers surveyed indicate they match employee payroll contributions, a 58 percent increase since 2006," according to the Charities.org report.

The report concludes that going forward, employees will increasingly expect time off to volunteer, employer-sponsored volunteer projects, dollars for doers, and expanded opportunities to give throughout year.  

Let's look at some of the most interesting stats, STAT:

Companies understand the value of employee giving programs:

Over 80% of the participating companies and organizations in our research project agreeing or strongly agreeing that their company is committed to a giving program. Further, they indicate that employee giving remains a priority that impacts their ability to attract and retain talent.

Branding is key:  

Eighty percent of the employers surveyed are branding their workplace giving programs with their own names, themes, and/or logos.

Employees want diversity:

The research indicates employers are at least one-third more likely to strengthen aspects of their giving program in response to changing employee expectations that engage them in a broad range of charitable activities.

Companies are consolidating:  

About 70% of employers indicate they have aligned their giving campaign with other employee engagement programs and/or corporate philanthropic initiatives, a 38% increase since 2006.

Giving is getting more social:  

Thirty percent of respondents now allow employees to post videos and/or testimonials in support of their favorite charities, while more than half report they are likely to incorporate more social media tools into the giving program within the next two years.

Companies need better outreach to their Millennials:  

Over 92% of employers surveyed face challenges connecting younger employees to existing employee giving programs.

Campaign administrators need help.  

About 85% of respondents said that keeping the campaign fresh and vibrant is a challenge... Today, many employers are looking to integrate their efforts into a one-stop shop. And, new technology platforms may support this integration.

The report's findings represent an exciting opportunity for companies to increase employee engagement and community impact at the same time.  Technology is helping companies push the envelope with both engagement and impact and enable the growing demands of workplace giving programs.  And clearly, new technologies to manage these efforts represent the future core of every company giving program, facilitating integrated, interactive and social experiences that are no longer optional, but essential.