America's Charities | November 14, 2022

Starting a Year-round Employee Giving Program: Benefits, Barriers, and Things to Consider

According to America’s Charities’ Snapshot 2017 report, nearly 71 percent of workplace donors say that they want to work for employers who have missions and values that align with their own personal values. What’s more, nearly 6 in 10 workplace donors say they want to work for companies where the culture supports giving and volunteering.

To accommodate these interests, and to recruit and keep a talented workforce, many companies offer the chance for employees to take part in seasonal giving campaigns or in an annual day of service. But for companies that are truly committed to building a culture that is focused on giving back, a once-a-year event or campaign often isn’t enough.

Year-round employee giving programs offer companies an opportunity to increase employee engagement, position them as good corporate citizens, and make a larger philanthropic impact.

While America’s Charities 2015 Snapshot report shows that larger companies are more likely to offer year-round programs than their smaller peers, you don’t have to be a Fortune 500 firm to create an effective year-round giving program. Regardless of your company’s size though, there are several things you need to consider before deciding if a year-round giving program is right for you.

Potential Benefits:

  1. Increase Participation and Giving: Extending your employee giving program from a finite period to year-round offers more opportunities for employees to contribute when it’s convenient for them. It also provides your organization an easy way to leverage the enthusiasm of new hires right away. 
  2. Opportunities to Test New Strategies and Ideas: Holding a giving campaign once a year during a finite period of time puts a lot of pressure on coordinators to reach fundraising goals and achieve desired participation rates. Moving from a finite period to year-round giving provides a little more flexibility to test out new strategies, methods of giving, and campaign timing without compromising your year-end giving results.
  3. Improve Company-wide Awareness: Even with the best communication plan in place, with a giving program offered once a year during a finite period of time, you run the risk of employees being away on PTO or too busy with their workloads to be aware that you even offer an employee giving program. By providing multiple opportunities for employees to give year-round, you are more likely to catch your employees’ attention, thereby helping you improve company-wide awareness of all the opportunities your organization provides for employees to give back to the community. According to a Deloitte Trends in Workplace Giving Survey, young professionals are emerging as enthusiastic workplace donors and increasing their donations year-over-year more than those in other age groups, but 17% cited a lack of awareness that such a program existed at their company, demonstrating a greater need for communication between employers and professionals about workplace giving options available to them.
  4. Agility When Major Events Transpire: If a natural disaster occurs or tragic event impacts your community, having a year-round giving program means your team has the infrastructure, technology, and processes in place to act on a moment’s notice, giving employees a way to quickly respond and show their support in a safe, effective manner.

Potential Barriers and Things to Consider:

  1. Employee Interest: You can offer a year-round giving program with multiple opportunities and methods to give, but if employees don’t have the opportunity to support causes that matter to them, they won’t participate in your program. Workers don’t want to have their giving choices dictated by their employers. According to Snapshot 2017, more than three quarters of respondents said that having the ability to choose causes they care about is imperative or very important to a positive donation experience. In fact, nearly 30 percent of respondents said they do not give through the workplace because the causes they care about are not available as choices.
  2. Effective Communications: You can have a world-class employee giving program and the best online giving technology, but there is no substitute for the human touch and good communications. Passive campaigns are doomed to fail and technology should NOT take the place of personal solicitation. The most successful initiatives are advertised well before they start and consist of visible reminders throughout the campaign. When planning your communication strategy, keep in mind frequency and timing, as well as what channels you can leverage to reach more employees. While emails and other digital media are great tools, don’t underestimate the power of in-person events and more traditional communication methods such as table tent cards in the cafeteria or a flyer in the employee lounge.  
  3. Resources and Coordinator Burnout: It takes quite a bit of coordination to implement an employee giving initiative even just once a year, especially if executing your program is just one part of the coordinator’s job. Before you commit to year-round giving, make sure you have a committed team and enough resources at your disposal to coordinate a year-round giving program. Choosing the right partner to help facilitate your employee giving program is critical as it can help ease capacity issues. At America’s Charities, our team serves as an extension of your team and we have ample resources to make implementing a year-round giving program easier for you.

For more details and steps to successfully implement a year-round program, and for a year-round giving program planning template, click here to download America’s Charities’ “Ultimate Guide to Year-round Employee Giving.”

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