The Next Generation of Workplace Giving: the New "Normal"

Sep 11, 2018 9:20 AM ET
Blog

Every year, American employees give to causes they care about through their employers, resulting in $5 billion for the nonprofits who are tackling tough issues and improving the world around us. American generosity has always been incredible, and when the economy does well, charitable giving only grows. Giving USA 2018 found that charitable giving of all types exceeded $400 billion last year, for the first time. And workplace giving—an employer-hosted program which enables employees to donate to charities, often directly deducting donations from their paychecks—is growing at an unmatched pace. Our research found that 86 percent of employers understand that their employees expect them to provide opportunities to engage in the community, and 87 percent believe their employees expect them to support causes and issues that matter to those employees. 

The reason workplace giving is growing is not hard to understand. In some ways, workplace giving is the unsung hero of individual giving. It’s easy, safe, convenient, and it provides nonprofits with sustainable support. Later I’ll go into why workplace giving is one of the most efficient and effective fundraising methods available. First, let’s talk about how prevalent the expectation of workplace giving is, and what those expectations entail.

The New Normal: Workplace Giving

Webinar Presentation Overview of America's Charities Modern Giving Employer Workplace Solution When we surveyed employee donors last year, we asked them all kinds of questions about why and how they give at work. Nearly 6 in 10 employees told us it was imperative or very important to work where culture is supportive of giving and volunteering. While there is no doubt Millennials have heralded much of this change, when we looked at the data, we found something surprising. After scrutinizing the data from every age demographic, we found Millennials weren’t the only group that wanted this experience. Baby Boomers, too, and every generation in between – Gen X, etc. – want to give at work, as a means of giving back, connecting with their colleagues, and better understanding the impact of their giving.

Our Snapshot 2017 research also told us that one of the top five detractors from an employee donor's giving experience is the limited ability to donate how and when they want. And choice is imperative when it comes to giving through the workplace. 76 percent of the employee donors we spoke to said that the ability to choose what cause they give to is imperative. Conversely, not having a choice stops 30 percent of employees from donating through the workplace. The ability to donate how and when an employee wants is among the top five critical factors in making a positive giving experience.

In this information age, people similarly expect technology to enhance what they do, and that goes for giving at work as well. Nearly half of the employee donors we talked to for our Snapshot 2017 research said having an online platform is imperative or very important to having a positive donation experience. Further, “giving” doesn’t just mean giving money. It can mean giving your time and talent as well. More than 55 percent said it is imperative or very important to have an easy-to-find platform where you can register, participate, and track volunteer hours online.

So – employees of all kinds expect to be able to give at work, they want to be in the driver’s seat of their individual giving, and they want technology to make it easy. Those expectations are only going to get more widespread, and more resilient, as the next generation joins the workforce. The world is more connected, and employers recognize the power and profitability that comes with an engaged and socially minded workforce. Even now, with the rise of employee activism, we see expectations expand and evolve.

So the question is: how can workplace giving today meet the donor of tomorrow? We call it Modern Giving, and it works.

A New Way to Give at Work

For employers who want to continue meeting their employees’ expectations and are interested in allowing employees to manage their own philanthropy more easily – we have a new workplace giving technology option for you. Our new America's Charities' Modern Giving Solution, powered by Pinkaloo, puts the power into the hands of employees, while simultaneously helping employers maximize employee engagement and their impact in the community. Once an employer signs-up for our Modern Giving Solution, it’s as easy as 1-2-3.

  1. Employees “fund” their personal giving accounts – they choose both the frequency and the amount. Employees can have money deducted from each paycheck, each month, or all at once (they decide the frequency and pledge amount). As soon as employees contribute money to their account, they immediately get a tax receipt. 
  2. Employees choose which charities to donate to when they want: right away, on the spur of a moment as events arise (e.g. disaster recovery), or over time when they are ready and have saved up money in their account (i.e. over the course of a month or several months). Employees can use our built-in “chip in” feature, perfect for disaster recovery, family and friend fundraisers, faith-based giving, and more. Those wishing to take more time can explore the 1.5 million charities in the database to find organizations that match their passions.
  3. Employees can also easily upload their other tax receipts from donations they've made through different platforms and programs into their America's Charities' Modern Giving account, empowering them to keep all of their tax receipts together in one, central location - making tax time simple when it comes to their philanthropy. 

Benefits to Modern Giving

In addition to the overall benefits of workplace giving (which, again, I promise I’ll get to in a moment), there are a variety of advantages to workers giving in this specific manner. America's Charities' Modern Giving Accounts help employees better budget for, and manage, their charitable donations. It’s similar to how a Venmo® or Health Savings account (HSA) works, and more accessible than a traditional donor-advised fund, but with the same advantages. Each personal giving account is created on a secure and easy-to-use web and mobile phone application (yes, there’s an app for that!), which means giving on the go is easier than ever. Employees can also centralize their giving – no further need to send checks or enter payment details on many sites. And because this account is the donor’s, not the company’s, it follows the employee from workplace to workplace.

Modern Giving doesn’t just benefit employees; it helps employers more easily leverage existing or introduce new engagement programs. There are charitable incentives for employee referrals, work anniversaries, etc. It builds stronger relationships with employees and the charities they support – helping them become advocates for a company’s brand. The easy to use social sharing tools help employers connect with a new generation of employee donors who want to engage companies with a social story. And because Pinkaloo’s cutting-edge technology is added to America’s Charities’ comprehensive support, employers can spend less time focusing on the administrative tasks of the program and focus more time on what really matters: attracting and retaining workers, engaging employees, and increasing social impact.

I invite you to join our short webinar on Thursday, September 13, at 2 pm ET, with America’s Charities CEO Jim Starr, Business Development Vice President Kim Young, and Pinkaloo CEO Gideon Taub, to find out what Modern Giving is; why it matters; and how it can help employers, charities, and workers alike: www.charities.org/moderngiving

Not Sure if You’re Contemporary Enough for Modern Giving?

Our Modern Giving option is just the latest in our portfolio of giving and engagement technology paired with service and support. If an employer wants to offer giving, engagement, donation matching, and everything in between, we have a comprehensive giving solution that grows with the employer and program. America’s Charities powered by Causecast offers endless giving opportunities—not just payroll deduction, but offline giving, credit card, PayPal, international giving, crowdfunding, individual and team volunteering, corporate printmaking, in-kind giving, matching gifts, disaster recovery, ready-to-use cause campaigns, VIP rewards, and more. This all-in-one solution is personal and interactive, with built-in storytelling and sharing functionality, volunteer event check-in, a personalized and company-branded interface and more.

For those who want to start simple, we also offer our Simply Giving solution, which offers an easy-to-use, branded interface and convenient ways to give. Real-time analytics help employers capture and track campaign results, and we offer out-of-the-box resources, templates, best practice guides, and charity stories and impact statements to help an employer get a new program up and running quickly, or inject new life into an existing program.

And now, we’re proud to offer Modern Giving – for those who want to meet giving expectations of today and tomorrow. 

Technology Alone Isn’t Enough. You Need People to Drive Change.

We all know that technology can sometimes be more trouble than its worth – the guiding support from humans is often required to ensure a piece of software or program works as intended. This is also true of workplace giving, where every employer has a different need, every culture is unique, and every program is different. I am not exaggerating when I say America’s Charities works tirelessly to meet our clients’ needs. To ensure success, each client gets a dedicated account representative to guide him/her through the workplace giving process from start to finish. From setting up and personalizing the online platform, to helping create a program, to managing the funds, to reporting and more, each client is supported by a full-service Client Engagement team, with experts in  workplace giving, employee engagement, technology, funds management, and marketing to provide assistance as needed. Even more, clients can offer their employees the use of our on-demand help desk support, which has 94 percent donor satisfaction. Our Donor Support Team answers employee questions by phone, email, and online chat, and has an average 10-hour response rate, with 70 percent of donors receiving help within 1 hour.

Workplace Giving: The Unsung Hero of Charitable Giving

As promised, let’s take a moment to go through just how efficient and effective workplace giving is, and how this type of fundraising benefits each stakeholder of social change at work – employees, charities, and employers.

Employee donors: Workplace giving is easy and convenient – any worker with access to the internet can participate. The charities they choose from are pre-vetted and donations are tax-deductible. Plus, they can give more over time. We know that one of the biggest obstacles to giving is affordability, with about one in eight Americans surveyed in Thrivent Financial's Money Mindset Report saying it’s because they “can’t give enough to make a difference.” With workplace giving, a little is deducted from paychecks all year long which means donors don't feel the impact all at once and can make a more generous gift overall. And if you ask any charity, every donation, no matter the amount, helps.

Charities: Workplace giving is one of the best fundraising options for charities. Instead of having to manage hundreds of appeals and fundraising drives and events, workplace giving programs bring all employees together into a single, coordinated appeal, which significantly decreases the administrative burden on charities. And, charities receive one check quarterly for multiple donations, which again, reduces their administrative requirements. Best of all, donations are unrestricted, so charities can use funds in areas where they are needed most. They can count on these donations all year long and plan accordingly to sustain their programs, services, and day-to-day operations throughout the year.

Employers: Workplace giving engages employees. With fewer opportunities to meet at the water cooler or even look up from our computers, workplace giving gives employees a chance to connect with each other, shape the company culture, and give back to the community. We know from Snapshot 2017 research that 71 percent of employees believe it's imperative or very important to work where the culture is supportive of giving and volunteering. And because employees expect to be able to support charities at work, workplace giving is crucial to recruitment and retention. Simply put, workplace giving attracts and retains talent. Another nearly 71 percent of workplace donors say that they want to work for employers who have missions and principles that align with their own personal values. Finally, according to PwC's Annual Global CEO Survey 2014, workplace giving helps employers achieve better corporate profitability and greater social impact: 74 percent of global CEOs say measuring and reporting total non-financial impact contributes to long-term success. According to Project ROI, a well-designed program can increase employee engagement up to 7.5 percent, increase employee productivity by 13 percent, reduce employee turnover by 50 percent, and increase revenue by as much as 20 percent.

Next Steps

I hope I’ve convinced you that workplace giving matters (if you’re still not sure, read this and see more stats here – or contact me; I’d love to hear from you!), that this method of giving is evolving, and there are a variety of options available – including new, cutting-edge options that that can help you reach your goals. To learn more about Modern Giving in the workplace, please:

  1. Register for our Modern Giving webinar, September 13, 2 pm ET: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/7676251817033551875
    1. If you’re already interested in Modern Giving, don’t wait! Take a tour of Modern Giving now. Sign up for a demo of Modern Giving: www.charities.org/moderngiving
  2. Sign-up for our CSR newsletter, which is chock-full of information about these topics: https://www.charities.org/connect-us-online
  3. Check out our free case studies, white papers, turn-key toolkits, webinars, research reports, statistics, and video library: www.charities.org/resources

Lindsay J.K. Nichols is Vice President of Marketing and Communications at America’s Charities. For the past two decades, Lindsay has helped drive social change by helping impact public policy, change people's behavior, and live healthier, more equitable lives. Listen to her on the Whole Whale podcast, "Understanding Workplace Giving with America's Charities.”