Development Crossing

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability

You Don't Have to Quit Your Job to Become a Corporate Philanthropist

Dollarphotoclub_78892467The other day, we received an interesting email from a young employee who wants to leave her job. One of the most important qualities that this woman is looking for in her next company is something we see as an increasing priority for many job seekers, particularly millennials: a robust volunteer and giving program.

This budding philanthropist wants to narrow her search to businesses that care as much about giving back as she does, so she asked us if we could provide a list of all the companies that are currently using the Causecast volunteer and giving platform. She reasoned that any organization taking their volunteering program seriously enough to make the investment in Causecast is a company she wants to explore working for.

This inquiry is another reminder that employees aren’t just interested in working for companies that give back - they’re walking away from companies that don’t. Across the world, businesses that hope to attract and retain top talent are being forced to respond to this groundswell of interest in corporate philanthropy.

One study by America’s Charities revealed that 68 percent of employers report their employees expect them to support volunteerism, and 50 percent of employers are moving to year-round engagement with their workplace giving programs. Of all the surveyed companies, 80 percent offer employees the ability to contribute to nonprofits via automatic payroll deductions, 70 percent offer matching gifts as a component of their volunteering and giving program, and 60 percent are incorporating contests and events as a way to make workplace giving programs more fun and vibrant.

According to the report, Snapshot 2014: A Rising Tide of Expectations--Corporate Giving, Employee Engagement and Social Impact, employees expect their companies to provide:

  • An effective, contemporary workplace giving program

  • The ability to use work time to volunteer

  • Opportunities to engage in skills-based volunteer activities

  • Matching gifts for employee contributions to nonprofits

Participate in Snapshot 2015

All that said, there are still plenty of companies that haven’t gotten the memo that volunteering matters to their employees, or the leaders at these businesses just don’t know how to implement a volunteering and giving program.

So here’s my message to employees that may be chafing at their company’s charitable cluelessness:

If your workplace isn’t keeping philanthropic pace with the times, there are several steps you can take before turning in your notice or sinking into the employee disengagement that plagues much of Corporate America.

1. Talk to HR: Make sure your company doesn’t already have a volunteer and giving program in place. If there is one, then why are you in the dark? Strong communications around volunteer programs is essential, and program managers are often under-resourced to get the word out. If this is the case, volunteer to be a community lead who can help engage employees in your company’s volunteering efforts.

Read more about how the most effective programs deputize community leaders: “There’s a New Sheriff in Town: Your Employees”

If your company doesn’t already have a volunteer program in place, make the case for getting one off the ground. Your HR leader surely has this on her “to-do” list; these days it’s impossible to ignore the flood of information linking a strong volunteer program to increased employee engagement. Convey how passionate you are about the idea of giving back at work and how you would love to engage your co-workers, but without support you have no way to organize these efforts, nor ensure that your company can benefit from this enthusiasm.

2. Email your CEO:  The strongest volunteer and giving programs are championed at the top, so you need senior management to lead the charge. Let your CEO know that you’ve already communicated your request to HR and that this is an important priority for you and other employees. Remind your CEO of the bottom line benefits of volunteering; competitors that have prioritized corporate volunteering are enjoying improvements in recruiting and retention, employee satisfaction, leadership and skill development, brand value, innovation, community relationships, and more.

At minimum, your CEO will respect your proactiveness. At best, your message will motivate him or her to consider how your company can best step up to the plate, align itself with the philanthropic passions and skills of its employees, and create a volunteer program that serves its community and corporate mission at the same time.

3. Suggest a roadmap.  One excellent report by Points of Light Institute offers a comprehensive action plan for creating a volunteer program. This includes:

  • Creating a plan that outlines the vision and ideal impact of your program

  • Designing a program around employees’ skills, corporate assets, and your company’s core competencies

  • Securing support from the C-Suite and executive-level managers, as well as middle management

  • Cultivating long-term partnerships and opportunities for multiple volunteer projects

  • Integrating volunteering into employee recruitment, orientation activities and supporting materials, and into team-building and social activities at work

  • Collecting data from both volunteers and nonprofits that have received volunteer services so you can measure your impact

  • Communicating with employees and all stakeholders so that you can report on your own impact and share learnings

My hat is off to employees - like the woman who emailed us - who let their feet do the talking when it comes to giving back at work. If their companies won’t prioritize their role as corporate citizens, some employees get restless to invest their careers elsewhere. We all want to feel a sense of purpose with our work, so before serving your notice, try serving up some motivation to get your company’s volunteer program in motion.

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