Your company can make a difference in the world by improving your corporate giving program. Companies donate more than $18 billion per year. That money goes to helping feed, shelter, and provide education and medicine to people in need. What many don’t realize is that corporate giving programs offer benefits to businesses too. If you find yourself asking, “how can my company start a corporate giving program?” keep reading to learn some of the surprising perks of giving back, discover ways to improve your program and find tips to get your team excited about charitable giving.
Corporate Giving Matters
The most important reason to rev up your giving program is to better your community. Every day, companies make a huge difference in people’s lives through charitable giving. For example, the e-commerce site Etsy gives grants to help low-income women learn how to code so they can become software engineers. The home-sharing service Airbnb offers low-cost rentals to low-income medical patients who must travel for treatments. And the health-food chain Whole Foods funds gardens and healthier lunches in schools.
Charitable giving can benefit your company too. For example, it may make your business more attractive to job seekers. More than half (51%) of workers in a survey say they’ll only work at a company that has strong social and environmental commitments. Plus, you may see a boost in employee morale, especially among millennial workers. In one survey, 83% of millennials said they feel more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues. And in another survey, 77% of workers of all ages said company-sponsored volunteer activities were essential to their well-being.
Your customers may notice your dedication to the community as well. If your corporate giving program aligns with your company’s mission and values (as Etsy’s, Airbnb’s, and Whole Foods’ campaigns do), your efforts will be a great way to show customers what your company cares about.
One caveat: Research suggests promoting charitable giving can’t mend a business’s bad reputation, and it could even backfire. For example, people criticized the tobacco company Philip Morris for spending more on publicizing their charitable donations than they spent on the actual donations. Customers want to do business with companies that are socially responsible on an everyday basis and give back to their communities through charitable giving for the right reasons.
Boost Your Corporate Giving Program
Are you ready to spruce up your giving program? Here are the best ways to give back as a company and get your employees excited about giving.
Fundraising matching gifts
The majority (84%) of donors say they’re more likely to give when an employer matches their gifts. And one-third of donors say they give more money when their donations are matched. Most large companies (65%) match donations, and 28% of small- to mid-sized companies do. But only 10% of employees take part in matching programs, so your program may have room for growth. To improve it, consider matching your employees’ donations at a higher rate.
Volunteer time off (VTO)
Volunteering makes people feel better. Almost all (93%) volunteers report an improved mood and 75% of people feel physically healthier after they volunteer. Why not give your employees paid time off to volunteer at a charity or nonprofit of their choosing? To make VTO work for your company, offer your employees a day or more off annually to volunteer, and make it easy for your employees to request time off. Give your employees a list of suggested places to volunteer but let them pick the cause that best reflects their interests and values. When they’re done, ask them to share stories about their volunteer efforts to inspire the rest of your team.
Dollars for doers
Want to encourage your employees to volunteer more at a favorite cause? Provide a grant to nonprofits or charities for every hour your employees or retired employees volunteer there. It works like matching donations, except your employees donate time and you donate money. Companies offer an average of $10 to $15 for each hour their employees serve. Only 5% of employees take part in a dollars-for-doers program.
Team volunteer grants
While a dollars-for-doers program offers grants to nonprofits when an employee volunteers alone, this model offers grants when employees volunteer as a group. Employees who may usually hesitate to volunteer may jump on the opportunity when they can spend the day with coworkers. And that’s good for your company, the nonprofit, and your employees.
Nearly three-fourths (70%) of employees believe volunteer activities boost morale better than employee-sponsored happy hours, And most (89%) workers say companies that sponsor volunteer activities offer a better overall work environment than those that don’t.
Many corporations offer grants to local schools and nonprofits. For instance, the ride-sharing company Lyft offers one nonprofit organization $1,000 in Lyft ride credits each month, and Walmart offers grants ranging from $250 to $5,000. To make your community grant program successful, streamline the application process and promote it around your community.
Elected automatic payroll deductions
By allowing your employees to deduct donations from their paychecks, you’ll help them fit giving into their monthly budgets. To make your program successful, provide new employees with a brochure that spells out the rules, lists eligible charities and nonprofit organizations, and explains when they can make changes to their contributions.
Whether your company sells food, clothing, or some type of technology, someone out there needs it but can’t afford it. Why not donate your excess product to people in need? For instance, here at ZeroCater, we work with Rescuing Leftover Cuisine and Feeding Forward to deliver leftover food to shelters and other community organizations in need. To make your program successful, set up clear giving guidelines. How much will you give? How will you make it available? Who will be eligible to apply? What will the process and timeline look like? Spell out the rules, and then publicize your program around your community.
Do your company’s values align with the values of a nonprofit? Sponsor some of their causes and events. Between 2007 and 2017, corporate sponsors donated more than $60 billion worldwide. You’ll help organizations do good in the world, and you’ll probably attract new customers at the same time. The majority (87%) of consumers say they’d buy a product based on the company’s advocacy of an issue they care about.
To make your corporate giving program successful, be sure to promote it to your employees and make it easy for them to get involved. By investing in your corporate giving program, your company is investing in your community. And as a bonus, when you support causes that align with your company’s values, you may boost employee morale and attract new customers while doing even more good in the world.