Workplace giving is more important, more vital than ever.
By Steve Delfin on September 16, 2013
The economy has put a squeeze on charitable giving and volunteering. Many charities are losing government funds. Foundations are more selective in grant-making. As a result, there are fewer unrestricted dollars available. Without unrestricted funds, charitable organizations struggle to survive.
That’s where employee workplace giving comes in. Each year by giving at work, you help raise $5 billion of unrestricted dollars that help those charities keep their doors open. Because your workplace gift tends to be larger than one-time gifts you might give online, you help create a steady stream of cost-effective, sustainable financial support for those charities that they can count on year in and year out.
While technology has created new ways of connecting people with causes, online giving tends to be more episodic and event driven – in response to disaster, for one-day community or organization drive, and the like. These are all excellent additions to the funding mix. But these efforts tend to produce much smaller contributions that are project or event specific. Employee workplace giving campaigns tend to produce charitable gifts that are larger in size -- in the $250 to $500 range -- unrestricted, and sustainable.
A one-time $50 donation can provide vital cancer survivorship information and support to 80 cancer survivors. Pledging $50 a month out of your paycheck for a year can provide that vital information and support to 960 cancer survivors. A one-time gift of $10 supplements more than 250 meals for hungry children in the U.S. for one month. Pledging $10 of your monthly paycheck every month for one year will nourish those same hungry children with over 3,000 meals that will not just help them survive the month, but thrive and even prosper throughout the year! You can see the immense difference between the impact that a one-time donation has when compared with the sustained impact of a workplace employee-giving campaign.
Impact is the big catch phrase today. We want to have impact. But you can’t have impact if you don’t have a base to operate from. A charity can’t have impact if it is spending an inordinate amount of it’s time, energy and resources competing for restricted funds. Workplace giving dollars are their lifeblood.
You are a more sophisticated donor. You want more tools to use in vetting the charities, connecting to volunteer opportunities and engaging your friends. Your expectations for workplace giving mirrors your expectations outside of the workplace. You demand more options, expect more choice. You want a technology experience that’s robust. And you want to know that the issues dear to your heart can be sustained and meet needs of people who are turning more and more to charitable organizations for services no longer available from governments. In short, workplace giving is more important, more vital than ever.
It’s not an “either-or” proposition. There are more opportunities and ways to give, to volunteer, to connect than ever before. The challenge is to grow giving. On line campaigns help, but generally they are not designed to be sustainable. Other giving models allow you to “do good,” but often with restrictions.
As you consider how you will give and how much you will give, consider using your workplace campaign to make your money go further. Consider that charities can’t have impact if they can’t pay their utility bill or make their modest payroll or pay for insurance. Consider all the sustained impact your workplace giving gift can have.
Steve has 30 years of experience working in and with major national and international not-for-profit organizations and socially-responsible international corporations, including a long history of engagement with and leadership around workplace giving and employee volunteerism programs.