Seven Ways to Ensure Your Corporate Giving Program Works for Employees

Last week representatives from charitable employers came together at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation’s Corporate Giving Network to discuss how they balance their broader, company-wide giving with employee-led initiatives.Companies that give back have happier employees.

It can be hard to please all of your employees with your corporate giving program, but we heard from several employers who have built programs that recognize the diverse interests of staff and company leadership.

Here are seven things that can help companies provide a positive experience for employees who care.

  • Offer matching gifts. Adding a matching gift element to your charitable program is an easy way to show your employees that you care about what they care about. You can set guidelines to match up to a certain dollar amount each year, and you can determine what kinds of requests qualify for matches. The Community Foundation’s web-based matching gift software and support staff can make it easy for you to add this valuable benefit to your employee benefits package.  
  • Create a system with clear guidelines. Requests for charitable donations from employees and charities could land on your desk at any time. Consider identifying a few large buckets for your company’s charitable dollars, like environmental causes, health-related issues or schools. You could even create an application to track requests and avoid having to provide an answer on the spot.
  • Partner with existing employee resource groups. If your company has existing employee-led groups to bring together employees based on age, race, gender, etc., find out what causes they are interested in supporting, and think creatively to figure out ways to work with them under your charitable guidelines.
  • Make sure employees don’t feel obligated or over-solicited. No one wants to feel like they didn’t give enough. Try to limit company-wide fundraising among employees to once or twice a year, and if you are asking employees for donations, make sure you convey your appreciation for gifts of any amount.
  • Ensure top leaders are involved. Employees notice if their managers or c-level executives show up (or don’t show up) to company-sponsored charitable events, like volunteer outings. While not everyone needs to attend everything, at least one representative from company leadership should participate in every event the company endorses.
  • Take the time for a, “No, but…” Charitable budgets are always limited, so when you do have to turn down a request, make it heartfelt. A phone call or face-to-face meeting (if there’s time), is usually better received than an impersonal email, especially if you are saying no to an employee. Take time to explain why this request can’t be met under your guidelines, provide alternative options (see matching gifts, above), and sometimes, if you can list all the other areas you’ve supported, you might even receive a thank you back.
  • Wind down slowly. Once you start to champion a cause, it can be hard to stop. Employees can become very passionate about company projects, and some charitable recipients might start to expect an annual gift from your company. Be careful with your commitments, and prepare organizations and employees for your transitions, so you don’t have to pull the rug out from anyone unexpectedly. The first cycle is usually the most painful, but remind everyone that the decision to change your approach was not personal.

Community Foundation Communications Director Leanne Breiby


Authored by: Leanne Breiby, Director of Communications