Pay it forward. It’s a simple idea: You may be just one person in this world, but to one person, at one time, you are the world. Imagine if we each looked for an opportunity to help others each day. Imagine the difference that would make.
During the holiday season it’s very easy to imagine and make happen. We deliberately take time to be thankful for what we have and to help others who are less fortunate.
Giving is not just an individual act of generosity it’s also a collective force of kindness in our communities and in the workplace. Providing opportunities for employees to give back is, in fact, a significant contributor to employee engagement, satisfaction and retention. But it’s not always an easy path to navigate.
There are, however, a number of ways to help ensure that workplace giving is productive, powerful and satisfying for employees and the company they work for. One of my favorite articles about giving back to the community is Forbes Making It Big – Giving It Big: The Titans of Philanthropy.
Insights from the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffet and Steve Case made a strong impression. I encourage you to read it. It may motivate you to rethink how you and your organization give back to the community, and the role of volunteering and philanthropic giving in employee engagement.
The Forbes articles demonstrates the need and power of ‘giving’ in the larger scheme of things. It helps us to think globally while acting locally. Katherine Fulton, President of Monitor Institute, brings it even closer to home in her TED Talk, You are the Future of Philanthropy, by speaking about “the democratization of philanthropy: where collaboration and innovation allow regular people to do big things, even when money is scarce.”
While I have not yet been invited to TED and share “ideas worth spreading,” I can share my experience working with clients to design and deploy programs that engage employees while giving back.
So, what I have learned? Over the years, I’ve identified three common themes that successfully link company giving programs to increased levels of employee engagement:
1. Ask, Listen and Learn: Your employees want to give back to the community – and they want their companies to do the same. In fact, 81% of employees want their company to offer matching support programs for non-profit charitable organizations, whether locally or on a larger scale, and to provide opportunities to volunteer during work hours (Cone Cause Evolution Study and Workplace Giving Works! Make It Work For You).
2. Connect Your People With Their Passion: Many companies offer one or very limited options for volunteering their time, financial resources and receiving matching contributions. The result is low participation in volunteer activities and, in many cases, dissatisfaction with their employers. Companies that truly invite their employees to align their time and financial resources to causes that have personal meaning have higher participation rates in fund-raising and volunteer activities than those that don’t. Matching contributions to causes that employees choose themselves (that fall within company guidelines and approval processes) are the most meaningful and contribute to higher levels of satisfaction and engagement. For more information, visit Volunteer Match.
3. Use Giving Back as Opportunities to Re-Connect and Re-Energize Your Teams: America’s Charities is another way to connect your employees with opportunities to give back. Whether it’s working together with Habitat For Humanity, running in The Race for the Cure, collaborating with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to help children in need, or partnering with the The Clinton Foundation to bring health services to communities decimated by HIV/ADS around the world, the opportunities – the need – to help and give back to our communities are endless.
Oprah Winfrey once said: “When you go to Nelson Mandela’s house what do you take? You can’t take a candle.”
Giving is personal. The logical next step is to make it personal to you…and the company you call home.
Until next time,
Connect, Collaborate and Create! ®