Workplace giving is a time-honored tradition responsible for raising over $4 billion annually and benefitting thousands of nonprofit organizations. Sometimes we forget this. Sometimes we are so focused on finding some new giving angle that we overlook the tried and true. So I thought I would take a moment and remind all of us CSR professionals about the value of workplace giving.

Sure, all programs can feel stale …

“Workplace giving” refers to charitable giving programs managed by employers and involving employees. Like any Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program, over time, workplace giving programs can become stale. When you do the same thing over and over, people naturally look for new ideas to infuse excitement and enthusiasm.

In recent years, we have seen a steady decline in employee participation in these corporate sponsored programs. Critics are quick to suggest that maybe these fundraising programs have served their purpose and are no longer a valued vehicle for raising money and engaging employees. They point to the fact that individuals have many opportunities to give to charity. They can go directly to an organization’s website, give through Facebook and other social media channels, participate in an event, text to give and a myriad of other charitable giving options.

So if workplace giving programs have become stale, what if any motivations exist for giving at the workplace? Let’s explore that question in greater detail … because we at CSR Matters believe there are important reason why giving at the workplace remains a valuable program for both employees and nonprofit organizations.

Ease of giving keeps it popular

Let’s start with the obvious. Workplace giving is easy. A recent survey found that more than 90% of Fortune companies conduct some type of workplace giving program. This translates into millions of employees have the opportunity to support charity through their workplace. It really is easy and convenient. And if it is easy for the employees to give at the workplace, then that is a great marketing incentive for nonprofits to due their share by helping companies run giving campaigns.

Ease and convenience, however, might not be enough to satisfy the critics. So let’s continue.

Employees want it

I recently authored America’s Charities’ Snapshot 2017 report which found that 60% of respondents to this online survey want to work for companies where the culture supports giving and volunteering. Furthermore, there has been considerable research done that shows that a company’s social mission has a direct impact on where employees want to work. Snapshot 2017 validated this research, finding that 71% want to work for employers who have missions and values that align with their own personal values.

Maybe the critics still are not satisfied. Not to more, there’s more.

Opportunities to engage with leaders and peers

Workplace giving donors value the opportunity to interact with their peers and with senior leaders of the company. Participating in these programs helps them feel connected to something larger providing environments to build relationships with peers and company execs around shared values. Snapshot 2017 found that 57% of respondents valued the opportunity to engage with senior company officers through giving and volunteer programs.

Company matching and payroll deduction makes a gift go farther

The economic arguments behind workplace giving may be the most compelling of all. Let’s start with matching. Many companies, both large and small, have implemented a matching gift program as a way to motivate employees to give to charitable causes. A typical company match ranges from 0.5x to 2.0x the donor’s gift. Even better, consider the impact of payroll deduction. The average gift in a payroll deduction campaign ($250) exceeds by 3x a typical online gift. Why? Because the donor spreads out that gift over the entire year, making it easier to give more. Charities love payroll deduction giving because it represents a measurable pledge that can be budgeted over the next 12 months.

Now consider the full impact. Start with an average online gift ($80), convert that gift to payroll deduction (now it is $250), and match it 1:1. That $80 gift turns out to be worth $500!!

As one fundraising consultant recently put it in a workplace giving webinar I attended:

Smart nonprofits understand workplace giving and value the opportunity to develop donor relationships within the workplace giving campaign environment. Far better for the charity to nurture donor relationships where the donor is likely to generate 3x to 5x an average online or direct mail gift.

Finally, experienced researchers will remind us that gift matching is a powerful incentive to increase employee participation in workplace giving programs.

How to ensure that today’s workplace giving programs support employee passions

The days of being told where to give and where to volunteer are over. Employees now want their employers to give them opportunities to support their favorite charities and/or causes. Perhaps, the single most important factor that detracts from a successful giving programs is the perception that participation is mandatory or somehow expected. So if your workplace giving programs “feel stale”, start with a self-examination. Do your employees feel compelled to give? Is there enough choice? Are employee passions being supported?

CSR Matters can help. Program evaluation is a strength of ours. We have documented workplace giving models where participation has increased by responding to stakeholder surveys, increasing choice, and encouraging employee interests. Back to our earlier research, more than 53% stress the importance of flexible donation options as a key to successful workplace giving campaigns.

Don’t forget the technology

Today’s CSR vendors provide very robust technology to support your workplace giving programs. Technology, however, is just a resource and by itself does not raise money or encourage employees to volunteer. Your CSR technology needs to be nimble, current, interactive, social, and more. It needs to mimic the best of social and mobile technology that we use in our personal lives every day. So if your technology “feels stale”, CSR Matters can help with that too.

Bringing it home

Workplace giving is far from obsolete. Programs can feel stale, and in need of being refreshed. That’s okay … in fact, it may be a very good thing. Time to revisit CSR strategies, update programs, and re-engage employees. Stronger, more impactful CSR programs – like workplace giving – improve your employee relationships, your community relationships and your brand. Never forget that!

And CSR Matters is standing by to assist. Ask about our self-evaluation checklist, program evaluation capabilities, and more. Good luck!