Sarah Ford | September 2, 2014

Online Tools Improve Workplace Giving: 7 Reasons Why

It’s time for companies to change the way they invest their philanthropic dollars. It’s no longer good enough to simply give money away. The entire process must create impact: for the community, the company, and the employees.

Community Investments Done Poorly

I recently read a post on the 3BL Media siteregarding Eli Lilly’s employee giving program. The post explained that in 2011 the employees of Lilly helped donate more than $850,000. Since a big part of our work has to do with employee giving programs I was interested to learn more.

By the fourth paragraph I was rolling my eyes.

Turns out that 14,000 Lilly employees helped give out corporate funds ($775,00), but only contributed something like $75,000 out of their own pockets. That’s an average of $5 per employee.
Not much to brag about, I figured.

Lilly’s corporate citizenship program often provides me with great examples of big companies doing community investment poorly. Each year, as one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, they hold their Global Day of Service and plant shrubbery along one of the highways in Indianapolis. Not exactly high impact volunteering. (To be fair, there are other company activities – but these seem to be small and similarly unfocused)

So I immediately read this post the same way – lots of PR and Marketing – very little substance.

I might be wrong.

Upon further reflection (and because some of my friends are Lilly employees), I’m convinced there is no way the company’s employees only give an average of $5 per year through their workplace giving program. So I’m giving the company the benefit of the doubt and assuming that this article is referring to only one particular program or project. There must be more dollars coming in through other avenues. The important thing – and the fact I want to focus this article on – is that Eli Lilly is making smart choices to encourage and involve their employees in workplace giving.

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