As employees and consumers alike have come to expect companies like yours to share their values, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is no longer optional in today’s business landscape. While there are many ways your company can strengthen its commitment to ethical and philanthropic business practices, one of the best ways to promote CSR internally is by running employee giving campaigns.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know to launch an employee giving campaign for your business. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What Is an Employee Giving Campaign?
- Benefits of Employee Giving Campaigns
- 10 Employee Giving Campaign Ideas
While employee giving campaigns are most often discussed in the context of the companies who run them, nonprofits have a lot to gain from them as well. After all, most corporate giving initiatives rely on partnerships between businesses that provide funding and charitable organizations that use that funding to make a difference in the community. Let’s get started by clarifying what we mean by the term “employee giving campaign.”
What Is an Employee Giving Campaign?
An employee giving campaign is an initiative set up by a business in which their employees contribute to designated charitable causes and organizations. Also known as employee giving programs or workplace giving campaigns, these endeavors encourage staff members to play an active role in their companies’ philanthropy.
While employee giving programs are often discussed in the context of CSR, corporate philanthropy, and corporate giving, these terms aren’t interchangeable. Here is a quick guide to how to think about these four concepts as they relate to your business’s activities:
- Corporate social responsibility encompasses all of the efforts your company makes to address ethical, social, and sustainability-related concerns in your business practices.
- Corporate philanthropy is one aspect of corporate social responsibility in which your business supports important causes in your community in various ways.
- Corporate giving refers to a large segment of corporate philanthropy that involves your company contributing to nonprofit organizations (either through financial contributions or in-kind gifts).
- Employee giving covers the corporate giving initiatives that rely on your staff members’ participation to succeed.
Benefits of Employee Giving Campaigns
When done well, employee giving campaigns are a win-win-win situation: they not only benefit your company, but also the nonprofits your initiatives support and even your employees. Let’s dive deeper into the workplace giving benefits for all three groups.
By being strategic about your employee giving campaigns, your business can:
- Engage its staff members. When employees have opportunities to make a difference through your company, they’ll feel more passionate about and satisfied with their jobs. Over time, this can lead to a more positive company culture.
- Increase employee retention rates. Studies show that 71% of employees expect their employers to support charitable giving and volunteering. If you show staff members that you care about social change by involving them in your efforts, they’re more likely to stick around long-term.
- Boost your company’s reputation. As with other aspects of CSR, offering employee giving opportunities demonstrates that you’re committed to good corporate citizenship and making a positive impact in the community at large. This is helpful not only for employee recruitment but also for attracting customers to your business.
- Form stronger community partnerships. If you connect with a nonprofit in your area to launch a workplace giving campaign, it can lead to a long-term relationship that opens up future opportunities for mutually beneficial sponsorships.
Nonprofits can benefit from well-executed employee giving campaigns in the following ways:
- Connecting with local businesses. The long-term partnership benefit for your company also applies to nonprofits. Not only will they earn funding from your initial campaign, but they may continue to receive support if they and your business both work to keep up the relationship.
- Fundraising with less effort and resources required. Since your company will take the lead on planning, promoting, and executing the employee giving campaign, your nonprofit partner will need to put in less time and spend less up front than they might on other fundraising campaigns they launch themselves. In the end, they’ll still gain essential funding to further their missions.
- Improving donor engagement. When a nonprofit’s donors know that their employers (like you!) will work with them to contribute more to a mission they’re passionate about, they’re likely to give more and get more involved with that organization.
The main ways your employees benefit from workplace giving campaigns overlap with the advantages for your company and nonprofits, but they’re still important to consider.
They’ll experience increased satisfaction in their roles and a better company culture at work, which will increase their trust in your business as their employer. Additionally, they’ll be inspired to deepen their engagement with the nonprofits they support when your campaigns multiply the impact of their contributions.
10 Employee Giving Campaign Ideas
When deciding which employee giving campaigns will work best for your company, take your staff members’ preferences into account—after all, they’re the ones who will contribute the most to your initiative! Consider sending out a survey that asks employees what types of corporate giving campaigns they’d like to participate in. Then, use their feedback to narrow down your ideas.
In this survey, also ask your staff what charitable causes they’re most passionate about and whether they have existing connections with nonprofits in your area. Take these responses and your company’s values into account as you decide what organizations to support.
To help you get started, here are 10 effective ideas for employee giving campaigns.
1. Matching Gifts
Matching gifts are a popular corporate giving initiative in which your company matches the donations your employees make to nonprofits. Most businesses match employee gifts at a 1:1 ratio, but your ratio may be anywhere from 0.5:1 to 4:1 as your budget allows. You might also choose to match donations to nonprofits in any or all verticals and set a minimum or maximum match amount per employee.
No matter how you choose to approach matching gifts, they’re extremely effective for helping your employees make an impact for the causes that are important to them. Take a look at these matching gift statistics to see the impact:
- Between $2-$3 billion is donated to nonprofits through matching gifts annually.
- 84% of donors say they’re more likely to contribute to a nonprofit if they know their gift will be matched.
- One in three donors say they’d make a larger donation if a match was offered.
However, it’s also estimated that up to $7 billion in matching funds goes unclaimed each year. This happens for two main reasons: supporters might abandon the form if the match request process is too complicated, and many match-eligible donors don’t know that their employer has a matching gift program in the first place.
To solve the first problem at your business, ensure your CSR software integrates with a nonprofit-facing platform that offers auto-submission, like 360MatchPro. Check out this video to learn more about auto-submission:
For the second issue, the solution is to communicate with your employees about your matching gift program. Explain it to new hires during onboarding and regularly remind more experienced staff members to submit match requests whenever they give to a nonprofit. You could even do a one-time donation challenge around a popular time for charitable giving, such as the end of the calendar year, to boost awareness of your program and match even more donations.
2. Recurring Payroll Deductions
One of the easiest workplace giving campaigns for your employees to participate in is payroll deductions. With this initiative, staff members simply opt in to give a small portion of each of their paychecks directly to a nonprofit.
Choose a few charitable organizations in your area to support with payroll deductions, and let employees pick which one to contribute their wages to. Each participant should also be able to choose the percentage of their paycheck that goes to the nonprofit each pay period and opt out whenever they want or need to do so.
In addition to tracking deductions through your corporate giving platform, check with your payroll provider to ensure it’s feasible within their system.
3. Affinity Month Giving Campaign
Many months of the calendar year have one or more designations to bring attention to the history and heritage of different groups or spread awareness of specific causes. A few popular examples of these “affinity months” include:
- Black History Month (February)
- Women’s History Month (March)
- Asian Pacific Heritage Month (May)
- Jewish American Heritage Month (May)
- LGBTQIA+ Pride Month (June)
- Hispanic Heritage Month (mid-September to mid-October)
- National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October)
- Native American Heritage Month (November)
To run an affinity month giving campaign, choose a nonprofit whose mission relates to the designation for the month in which you’re running the campaign. Then, you could either fundraise internally for that organization throughout the month or offer an additional match when employees donate directly to them. For instance, if your typical matching gift ratio is 1:1, you could offer a 2:1 match to your designated nonprofit during your affinity month campaign.
4. GivingTuesday Campaign
In addition to affinity months, consider tapping into one of the most popular giving days of the year for your employee giving campaigns: GivingTuesday. Held on the Tuesday after the United States’ Thanksgiving holiday, this global giving movement has grown rapidly since its founding in 2012 and raised more than $3 billion in 2022 alone.
Your business’s GivingTuesday campaign can take several forms, such as:
- Offering a higher match for employee gifts made that day.
- Donating a portion of your daily sales total to a designated nonprofit.
- Recruiting staff members to give pro bono services such as graphic design or bookkeeping to charitable organizations to help with their GivingTuesday efforts.
- Organizing a team volunteer day for your company.
No matter which of these options you choose, remember to promote your GivingTuesday efforts to both employees and customers in advance so they’re aware of your plans. After your campaign, share your success on your company website and on social media using #GivingTuesday to join the global conversation.
5. Team Fundraising Challenge
Foster friendly competition while raising funds for a good cause through a team fundraising challenge! Start by choosing a local nonprofit that is popular with many staff members to support during your campaign. Next, divide your employees into groups—the easiest way to do this is by the teams they work within (sales, marketing, client relations, etc.), but you might need to combine smaller teams or split larger teams up so each group is approximately equal in size.
Once you have your fundraising teams, set a deadline and see how much funding each team can bring in for your chosen organization. To ensure your staff doesn’t feel like they have to carry the entire financial burden of this campaign by themselves, set up individual donation pages using a peer-to-peer fundraising platform that they can share with their family and friends.
At the end of the challenge, give each member of the winning team a prize like a gift card or lunch on the company card. You might also match the winners’ fundraising total to show that your company’s leaders and employees are in it together.
6. In-Kind Donation Drive
If your employees would prefer to contribute physical items to nonprofits rather than monetary gifts, you can accommodate this by hosting an in-kind donation drive. Collect these contributions at your office and set a deadline for employees to bring in all of their items. You can easily turn this campaign into a team competition as well.
Some types of in-kind donations you could collect during your company’s campaign include:
- Non-perishable food for a food pantry
- Classroom supplies for students at an underserved school
- Winter coats for families in need in your community
- Emergency items for individuals in areas hit by natural disasters
Donating physical goods can allow employees to see the tangible benefits of their contributions more clearly than if they only made monetary gifts. Plus, recycling gently used or never-opened items through in-kind donation drives promotes sustainability at your company.
7. Run/Walk/Ride Events
Athletic events like 5K races, walk-a-thons, and bike-a-thons are among the most popular nonprofit fundraisers because of their broad appeal. If your staff tends to be physically active, consider including their participation in run/walk/ride events in your employee giving initiatives. There are a few different ways you could do this:
- Support individual employees’ participation by donating a fixed amount to their peer-to-peer campaign or matching their fundraising total after the event.
- Recruit a fundraising team to participate together in a specific run/walk/ride event for a local organization.
- Organize your own event benefiting a nonprofit your company has an established relationship with and invite community members as well as your employees.
Hosting your own event will require the most work on your part, but it can help you establish strong relationships with nonprofits and individuals in your community. And while the other two options may not be as labor intensive, you’ll still need to make an effort to track your company’s donations carefully.
8. Lunch and Learn Sessions
If you’re trying to boost participation in your business’s other employee giving campaigns, hosting optional lunch and learn sessions for your staff members can increase their awareness of the organizations and causes that are important in your community.
On a given day, provide lunch for employees and invite a leader, board member, or committed volunteer from a local nonprofit to give presentations about their organization’s mission and work. If any of your staff members are longtime supporters of a specific nonprofit or serve on its board, ask them if they’d be willing either to speak or to introduce you to someone else at the organization who could present at your lunch and learn session.
At the end of the session, give attendees a chance to donate or register for an event with that nonprofit and pledge to match their contribution. If they aren’t ready to contribute right away, send them home with a flyer about the organization so they remember the session and may consider getting involved at another time.
9. Volunteer Grants
If your employees enjoy giving their time to nonprofits, volunteer grants are the perfect way to encourage them to continue doing so. Also known as dollars for doers, these giving programs add value to your staff members’ volunteer time through monetary support from your business.
The volunteer grant process works like this:
- One of your employees volunteers with a nonprofit. Like with matching gifts, you can set a minimum number of volunteer hours you’ll provide a grant for or cap the amount of money you’ll give per employee per year.
- The employee verifies their eligibility and submits a volunteer grant request. The most important question they have to answer here is the number of hours they volunteered with their chosen organization.
- You review the request and check with the nonprofit that the employee has indeed volunteered as much as they said they did.
- You send the designated amount of funding to the nonprofit.
Similarly to your matching gift program, make sure to promote volunteer grants to your employees so they take advantage of the funding you offer.
10. Paid Volunteer Time Off
Another way to encourage volunteerism at your company is to provide your employees with a few paid days off per year specifically for volunteering. These should be categorized separately from the vacation, sick, and personal days you offer to ensure staff members can still focus on their own well-being.
To prompt employees to use their paid volunteer time off, allow them to put their volunteer hours from those days toward your existing volunteer grant program or offer a one-off volunteer grant as a reward for using all of their provided time. Additionally, consider organizing one or two company volunteer outings per year so that if they don’t know what nonprofit to volunteer with on their days off, they’ll easily be able to join your group.
Employee Giving Campaigns: The Bottom Line
The ideas above are just 10 of the many possible employee giving campaigns your business could run. Figuring out the best combination of initiatives for your company will likely require some trial and error in the beginning. Remember that this is normal and that with the right tools and resources on your side, you’ll be able to engage your employees in boosting your CSR.
For more information on involving your business’s employees in corporate giving initiatives, check out these resources:
- How to Improve Employee Engagement: A Complete Guide. Discover a variety of other ways to engage and retain employees in addition to your workplace giving campaigns.
- How to Develop a Corporate Charitable Giving Policy: A Guide. Explore the ins and outs of developing formal guidelines for managing your employee giving programs.
- Developing a Matching Gift Program: A How-to Guide. Dive deeper into the process of starting a matching gift program to tap into this popular form of employee giving at your company.