‘Tis the Season for Charitable Giving

by Danielle Sarmir

‘Tis the Season for Charitable Giving - Root360Did your company come together to support a cause this year? Perhaps you put together a company team to participate in a charity-oriented run or volunteered as a group at a soup kitchen this holiday season? If so, your employees are probably much happier and more engaged because of it! Charitable giving – or corporate philanthropy – not only benefits your community, but it’s also an important tool for employee engagement.

Engaged employees’ are “those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace,” according to Gallup. Having engaged employees delivers tons of benefits to businesses of all size; including recruitment and retention of high-level talent, boosting employee productivity, lowering absenteeism, and improving the overall bottom line. Jim Harter Ph.D., a chief scientist at Gallup Research, explains in a 2013 Harvard Business Review article how engaged employees “help people see the connection between their everyday work and the larger purpose or mission of the organization.”

There are many ways employers can more effectively engage their employees; but techniques like mentoring, communicating your vision and policies clearly and often, instituting wellness initiatives, and establishing fun perks can work for nearly every workforce.

Engaging Employees through Charitable Giving

Using charitable giving as a technique to boost employee engagement is on the rise, especially in small- and medium-sized businesses. While most businesses run their giving programs during the fall or holiday season, charitable giving can – and should – be a year-round program. Programs can include annual workplace giving campaigns, matching charitable donations from employees, paid time-off to volunteer, employer-sponsored volunteer projects, community engagement events, and more. Employees will benefit from building a connection with their community, developing new skills, and enjoying the opportunity to pursue other passions, to name a few of the perks.

For small- and medium-sized businesses, the benefits of charitable giving can extend far beyond boosting employee morale and helping an organization in need. It connects your business with the local community and bolsters your reputation.

America’s Charities just published a report looking at employee engagement and charitable giving, which sheds new light on the differences between charitable giving policies at small- and medium-sized businesses versus large corporations. As more and more mid-size and small companies expand their programs, they may want to consider borrowing some ideas from their larger counterparts. Here are just a few of the suggestions found in the America’s Charities report:

  • Partnering with nonprofits to enhance their corporate brand
  • Giving employees the option of donating directly from their paycheck
  • Offering ‘Dollars for Doers,’ or other financial grants for employee volunteer service

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the appeal that charitable giving programs have for Millennials. Earlier this year, Deloitte released their fourth annual millennial survey and found that “for six in 10 Millennials, a ’sense of purpose,’ is part of the reason they chose to work for their current employers.” America’s Charities’ report also highlighted the impact that Millennials are having as they “consider a company’s genuine social responsibility and support for philanthropic activities and initiatives when deciding which employer to work for (or with).”

As 2015 comes to an end, it’s the perfect time to examine your existing charitable giving programs and to implement changes that will lead to a more engaged workforce. Not only is giving back to the community important, but if you can also do it in a way that creates long-term, strategic benefits for your business…well, that’s even better!

Danielle Sarmir is a Senior Program Associate for Manomet’s Sustainable Economies Program. She has more than 15 years of experience working in marketing, government and public relations, and has engaged with a wide variety of sectors from nonprofits to the hospitality industry to manufacturing (sustainable packaging, biobased materials, efficient lighting and more).

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