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Employee Engagement > Philanthropy > Retention

Corporate Philanthropy: The Gift that Keeps on Giving?

If the business world were 80s teen flicks (and I’m not saying it’s not…), your employees may feel like Say Anything‘s Lloyd Dobler right about now…especially if they’ve recently seen their benefits, bonuses or even pay taken away as companies try to save money. 

Much like John Cusack’s lovable, love-weary everyman lamenting, “I gave her my heart, and she gave me a pen,” your employees may be feeling  little defeated if they’ve been putting 110 percent of their efforts into their work only to get little to nothing back in return. 

While you can’t exactly help it if increasing financial stress is forcing your company to cut back, you can’t really blame employees if they feel like they’ve just about given all they have to give, either.  So what’s a resource-strapped manager to do to lift his employees out of the dumps?

You might try asking them to give back

Organizing a companywide volunteer effort can be an effective way to boost morale.  (Especially if your employees are feeling like Lloyd Dobler, they’re just “looking for a ‘dare to be great’ situation.”  So wouldn’t the opportunity to contribute to a greater good fall under that category?  Yeah?…Have I effectively killed this analogy?)   As this BusinessWeek article explains, company-organized charity initiatives can also increase professional development, team building and retention among employees. 

Last month, the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) held its Board of Boards CEO Conference to “share insights on leadership in corporate philanthropy.”  Key findings from this year’s program include:

  • 92% of participating CEOs are personally involved in their company’s corporate philanthropy programs.
  • 82% of attendees indicated that philanthropy can help restore trust in the business sector.
  • 80% of business leaders in attendance consider their employees and customers to be the most important constituencies when crafting giving strategies.

The CECP offers several helpful tips for companies as they consider organizing employee volunteer programss, including the following: 

  • Designate company-wide “days of volunteerism” to provide a focused and strategic platform to engage employees and senior management.
  • Give employees paid time off to volunteer at organizations of their choosing to serve their individual charitable interests and fit better with their work schedules.
  • Educate your employees on the needs of the charity or charities you choose to help and how their efforts have an impact on the community.
  • Set up a Web site to educate and inform employees about available volunteer opportunities and to track individual volunteer time (for measurement and benchmarking purposes)
  • Push this information to employees through multiple channels, such as e-mail, mail, newsletters, live events, etc. so they’re not always forced to seek it out.
  • Look for hands-on volunteer projects that business leaders can direct or team projects that managers can rally their employees around.
  • Survey employees to determine what issues they would like to see your company support, while also considering initiatives that match company goals, align with your brand, can be communicated easily, and can be executed.

Not sure where to start? The following sites can help you find the best charities and resources for your company goals:

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.
3 comments
Arthur Bushkin
Arthur Bushkin

There is a simple way to produce billions of dollars of long-term funding for social causes. There is a way to harness the power of Capitalism for the Common Good that avoids government spending, taxes, stimuli, or bailouts. Companies can grant Social Bonuses by donating warrants to charity – something that doesn’t cost them anything to give – and get a deferred tax deduction for the value of the gift. To learn more go to: www.Stargazer.org/causes.

Michael Long
Michael Long

I'm so glad that you posted this! Involvement with non-profit organizations can have a massive impact on moral!

Additionally, I appreciate the fact that you included the "Survey employees to determine what issues they would like to see your company support, while also considering initiatives that match company goals, align with your brand, can be communicated easily, and can be executed." It's important that value flows both ways in these initiatives! Working together, commercial and non-profit organizations can achieve great things!

I'm setting out to prove this point myself with the soon-to-be-launched Red Shoe Project. Aligning with brand, making the project fun and, of course, easy to execute are key! People shy away from projects that are too complex. Empowering people to get involved through simple non-financial contributions can rapidly shift the project from a pocketed effort to a company-wide mission!

Thanks again!

Michael Long
Michael Long

I'm so glad that you posted this! Involvement with non-profit organizations can have a massive impact on moral!

Additionally, I appreciate the fact that you included the "Survey employees to determine what issues they would like to see your company support, while also considering initiatives that match company goals, align with your brand, can be communicated easily, and can be executed." It's important that value flows both ways in these initiatives! Working together, commercial and non-profit organizations can achieve great things!

I'm setting out to prove this point myself with the soon-to-be-launched Red Shoe Project. Aligning with brand, making the project fun and, of course, easy to execute are key! People shy away from projects that are too complex. Empowering people to get involved through simple non-financial contributions can rapidly shift the project from a pocketed effort to a company-wide mission!

Thanks again!

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  1. [...] spot in our current economy! No, we’re serious. Oh, and we talked about the importance of your business giving back to the community. Complete with a Lloyd Dobler/”Say Anything” [...]

  2. […] A concerted effort to give back to the community. […]

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