We’ve entered a new age of corporate culture. How we do business has adapted through a global pandemic, racial unrest and changing working environments.
How are companies in Kansas City engaging employees through philanthropy, especially as we navigate this new normal? Kansas City’s leaders in corporate philanthropy came together this month at Corporate Giving Network to share how their companies’ giving programs have evolved over the last few years, and several themes emerged:
Use a Corporate Donor-Advised Fund to Set Aside Assets for Charity
An easy way to get started is by establishing a corporate donor-advised fund to collect and hold charitable contributions and issue grants to charities on your timeline. A corporate donor-advised fund works well for companies of all sizes, with fees starting at just $250/year.
We heard from one business leader who appreciated a donor-advised fund’s simplicity and cost savings compared to a private foundation. We also serve large companies that have separate corporate foundations but augment their programs with donor-advised funds for more flexibility in their giving.
The pandemic highlighted the importance of intentionally setting aside assets for charitable giving. With so much uncertainty surrounding the economic effects of COVID-19, some companies hesitated to increase or even maintain their levels of charitable donations. But if the assets were already allocated for charities in a donor-advised fund, a company could respond to unprecedented needs in their communities without worrying how it might affect their bottom line.
A corporate donor-advised fund is also a critical building block for a company that might want to add an employee matching gift component to its benefits package. One company we work with increased the employee match amounts for donations made in response to social justice issues and disasters across the world.
Engage Employees at Every Level in Giving Time and Treasure
Start at the top, with leadership’s enthusiasm and participation in all of the company’s philanthropic programs. It means a lot to employees when they see the c-suiters rolling up their sleeves to volunteer.
Some of the companies we heard from established employee advisory boards with representatives from all levels of an organization who help identify charities that offer opportunities to give time and treasure.
Volunteer projects are especially important when fewer employees regularly come into an office. In one case, a socially distanced volunteer day was the first time a group of employees had seen each other face-to-face in over a year. On top of that, the company has a “dollars for doers” benefit that donates $25 for every hour an employee volunteers, making the project even more meaningful.
Existing employee resource groups (ERGs) focused on fostering an inclusive workplace are an excellent asset for corporate philanthropists. We’ve heard compelling stories of ERGs making authentic connections with smaller grassroots charities that may not be on their leaders’ radars.
Measure and Celebrate Giving with Employees and the Community
Do your corporate success measures include your charitable activities? Aligning your business and philanthropic goals can demonstrate the importance of giving back to your employees, clients and community. When companies find success embedding giving into their corporate culture, employees feel responsible for carrying on the tradition.
Your company might have a goal of increasing:
- charitable donations
- employee volunteer hours
- employee participation in a matching gift program
- the number of charitable partnerships
- the number of corporate officers and managers who are deeply engaged with a charitable organization (i.e., a board position, an event chair or a major individual sponsor)
Don’t be shy about the good work your company is doing. Share your successes in your annual reports, at town halls, on your websites, and when you onboard new employees and clients.
Let us know if your company is interested in learning more about a corporate donor-advised fund or other charitable services. We are here to provide resources to help your company’s giving grow and thrive in the midst of changing workplace dynamics.
And if you’re in Kansas City, consider joining us at our next Corporate Giving Network! You can sign up to receive our invites on our website.
Authored by: Leanne Breiby, Vice President of Communications