6 Potential Pitfalls to Avoid with Your Company Employee Giving Model

CSR Blog

By Scott F. Black

Workplace giving campaigns are making way for a new engagement model and the latest research indicates that if your company is making any of the following mistakes, you’re likely missing out on some key corporate branding and employee engagement opportunities.

1. Failure to Involve Employees

Research indicates that employers who engage employees through a broader range of charitable activities are at least one-third more likely to strengthen aspects of their giving program.  Creating opportunities for employees to interact directly with colleagues, organizational leaders, and with charities through networking events, fundraising activities, charity fairs, and through social media, will catalyze greater giving and contribute to your overall CSR goals.

2. Underestimating the Power of Charitable Choice

The average employee giving participation rate in 2006 was 41%.  In 2012, that average dropped to 33%.  When a company features a group of charities and gives employees the option to give to whatever charity they choose, the number of employees who give increases. In fact, nearly 60% of employers that feature signature charities have reported an increase in the number of employees choosing to donate through the workplace giving program.

3. Not Aligning Your Model with Your Company Brand and Other Philanthropic Initiatives

Branding and alignment ensure employee giving programs reflect unique corporate cultures and employee charitable interests.  Nearly 80% of employers surveyed have branded their workplace giving program with their own name, theme, and logo, and about 70% of employers have aligned their giving campaign with other employee engagement programs and corporate philanthropic initiatives. 

4. Using Technology the Wrong Way

Over the past decade, technology has evolved beyond capturing pledge and contribution data.  New platforms are emerging that makes the donor experience more meaningful and engaging.  Nearly 80% of companies and organizations surveyed contract with a technology vendor to support their giving programs compared to just 10% back in 2000.

5. Not Using Matching Gifts to Your Advantage

Corporate matches are becoming a central driving force that can be used to incentivize employees to donate to charities through workplace initiatives.  Nearly two-thirds of employers surveyed (a 58% increase since 2006) indicate they match employee payroll contributions.

6. You’re Only Asking Once

A majority of companies conduct their giving program during a finite period of time, usually in the Fall or during the holidays.  However, a growing number of employers recognize that giving can take place throughout the year.  By developing strategies that leverage campaign-like features, such as kick-off events and strategic communications around ‘pulse points’ throughout the year, your company can generate greater interest and contribution from employees.

If you’ve been making any of the mistakes above, don’t worry. These mistakes are common among businesses of all sizes and industries.  I know first-hand, because I work with local and national companies who want to become more personally invested in tackling social problems, but experience some of these same challenges.

If you’re ready to transform your current program into a truly engaging program that’s aligned with your CSR objectives and inspires employees to give back and get involved, use these 6 mistakes as a framework.


America’s Charities has released a report called, Snapshot: Trends & Strategies to Engage Employees in Greater Giving.  Reflecting insights and practices from nearly 100 private sector employers who collectively raise more than $230 million through their annual employee giving campaigns, this original research identifies current trends, attitudes and perceptions in employee giving.  It points the way to a new model that is being shaped by our digital culture and reveals new ways that can help your company achieve its Corporate Social Responsibility goals.