Kevin Penney of Bonfire | September 13, 2021

7 Workplace-Friendly Fundraising Ideas to Engage Your Staff

Leaders at companies work hard to make sure their corporations are socially responsible and help make a positive impact in the community. Not only is this a moral win for companies, but it also helps improve the reputation of the company, driving additional sales over time.

However, no matter how many philanthropic initiatives you implement, they’ll make a very little impact if you don’t get your employees involved. When you plan workplace fundraising ideas and corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, be sure you keep your employees in mind as the audience of each initiative.

Your employees will drive these activities forward, and appealing to their interests will define whether or not your workplace giving and CSR initiatives are worthwhile and successful. By catering to your employees’ interests, you’ll also communicate that you care about the causes they care about, directly boosting morale, so a careful approach is vital.

In this article, we’ll cover seven fundraising ideas designed to get employees involved in your workplace giving program, improve engagement, and raise awareness and funds for the social good sector. We’ll discuss the following ideas:

  1. Matching Gift Programs
  2. Volunteer Grants
  3. Volunteer Days
  4. Payroll Deductions
  5. T-Shirt Campaigns
  6. Fun Runs
  7. Golf Tournaments

With these ideas, you have the option to create partnerships with community nonprofits or to support the existing relationships your employees already have with nonprofits. Just bear in mind that community members will associate your company with the causes you partner with, so be sure any partnerships you form also align with your company’s values.

Is workplace giving part of your fundraising strategy? Workplace donors provide your cause with funding all year long, and they give on average five times more than individual donors. Learn more in this Washington Post article, “How workplace giving supports tangible change.”

1. Matching Gift Programs

Matching gift programs allow your organization to support employee philanthropic giving to nonprofit organizations. This type of corporate philanthropy requires your organization to determine a policy about the match limits, ratio, and eligibility for these gifts. For example, a company may stipulate: 

Current employees will receive a 1:1 match for gifts made to registered 501(c)(3) nonprofits with a maximum match of $5,000 and a minimum match of $25. 

According to America’s Charities’ Snapshot research, matching gifts is one of the top five motivations for workplace donors. In fact, 84% of donors say they’re more likely to donate if a match is offered, and 1 in 3 say they would give a larger gift if matching is applied to their donation. A well-designed matching gift program can encourage employees to regularly give while showing them that your company also cares about the causes close to their hearts.

Check out the Definitive Matching Gift Guide for Employers to find everything you need to know, such as the benefits and value of a program, and five things you need to consider before getting started.  

2. Volunteer Grants 

Just like matching gifts, volunteer grants, often called Dollars for Doers, allow your organization to match the contributions that your employees make to existing organizations. But instead of matching their monetary donations, your company will match the volunteer hours they spend working with registered nonprofit organizations. Here’s what the general volunteer grant process looks like:

America's Charities_7 Workplace-Friendly Fundraising Ideas_Volunteer Grants.png

If you include a volunteer grant portion into your workplace giving or  CSR programs, you can set limits and eligibility requirements. For instance, you might mandate that only current employees can take advantage of these grants and that they’re only given to registered 501(c)(3) organizations. In addition, you can set these grants up so that a certain amount is paid per hour of volunteer work or a set amount will be distributed once an hour threshold is reached. 

Keep in mind that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed much about volunteering. The basics are the same, but many aspects are different to accommodate everyone’s safety and comfort level. Listen to this on-demand webinar to learn what’s changed, what hasn’t, and what you need to do when hosting volunteer events in any setting – remote, in-person, or hybrid.

3. Volunteer Paid Time Off and Volunteer Days 

When it comes to giving back, it’s important to remember that not all contributions are made in the form of monetary donations. Contributing time is also essential for nonprofit organizations and can help your employees come together as a team. In fact, according to America’s Charities’ Snapshot Employee Donor research, getting paid time off to volunteer is the absolute best way to motivate your team to participate – even ahead of matching gifts! In addition to paid time off, providing team-volunteering activities, where whole departments or organizations join in the same event – also known as ’volunteer days – allows your employees to engage with the community and one another to make a difference. 

Create a partnership with a local nonprofit and offer to bring a number of your employees for a volunteer day to accomplish a specific goal for the organization. For example, you might offer to plant a certain number of trees for an environmental organization, take dogs for walks at an animal shelter, or help build a home for a family in need. No matter what you do, make sure it’s useful to the nonprofit. 

Look for volunteer opportunities that match your employees’ general interests as well as societal needs. Check out these free guides to help you get your volunteer program off the ground, or to take an existing program to the next level

4. Payroll Deductions

Payroll deductions are one of the easiest and most effective ways your organization and workforce can make a big difference. Also known as recurring giving, employees simply choose payroll deduction as their giving method, then decide how much money they want to be deducted from each paycheck throughout the year, and which causes they want to support. Click here to learn more about why workplace giving and payroll deductions are so powerful. 

There are a variety of workplace giving platform options to choose from that make this process simple and engaging – from a simple, giving-only option, to a more robust platform that ties in giving, volunteering, matching gifts, and more. And because all options are all web-based — anyone can participate if they have access to the internet — they have replaced the traditional watercooler when it comes to bringing employees together and building culture and engagement.

5. T-Shirt Campaigns

One classic way that you can bring your entire team together while supporting a partnered cause is by hosting a t-shirt fundraising campaign. Offer to create a t-shirt on behalf of the organization with both your company logo and the nonprofit’s logo on it. Ensure it’s a modern design that your company employees will love (you might even let employees vote for their favorite option!)

Then, you could simply sell them to your company employees or you could make a team effort and get your staff members involved with a peer-to-peer campaign. The steps for this campaign idea are laid out in the image below:

America's Charities_7 Workplace-Friendly Fundraising Ideas_T-shirts

In this type of campaign, you partner with a t-shirt peer-to-peer fundraising platform like Bonfire, then design a shirt that represents both the nonprofit’s mission and your company’s branding. Ask your staff members to volunteer to create their own fundraising pages where they’ll sell these t-shirts to their friends, family, and the community at large. You might even offer a prize to the person who sells the most!

6. Fun Runs

Fun runs are a classic fundraising idea that can be set up by either a company or a nonprofit. As a partnering organization, you might decide to sponsor a fun run that a nonprofit is already setting up. Or, you might decide to host your own fun run on behalf of a nonprofit organization. 

If you decide to host your own fun run, encourage your staff members to either sign up to participate in the run or to volunteer to make the event possible. Then, you can collect registrations, determine the distance of the race, and start running! Be sure to offer water, snacks, race t-shirts, and a prize for your quickest runners. 

Open your race up to the community to raise as many funds as possible, but also be sure to create some team-oriented activities that your staff members can do to promote team building. For instance, you might give all staff participants a matching shirt or take a team photo before the race begins.

7. Golf Tournaments

Do you have a team of golf-lovers? Do your staff members meet at the green on the weekends to play a few rounds? If your employees already gravitate toward golf, host a tournament where they can show off their skills while raising funds for a good cause.

When planning the event, there are several approaches that you can take to raise funds. You might decide to require a small admission fee from your staff members (and other invitees) to enter. Then, you can sell snacks, merchandise, and other items as the tournament proceeds. Be sure to provide a prize to the winner and give them a shout-out on Monday morning for everyone who wasn’t able to attend. 

While many consider fundraising to be an activity strictly for the nonprofits themselves, your company can do a lot of good when you put in some effort to raise money for a cause important to your team. Through effective workplace giving and  CSR programs, you can make a positive impact in your community, create a positive reputation for your company, and improve team relationships.

About the author: 

Kevin Penney, CMO & Co-Founder of Bonfire, has been working in digital media for over ten years. He’s the CMO and co-founder of Bonfire, an online platform that’s reinventing the way people create, sell and purchase custom apparel. He enjoys strategizing, working closely with his team, and hockey, exactly in that order.

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