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Corporate Giving and Employee Engagement

Corporate Giving and Employee Engagement

When we think about corporate giving, the first thought typically goes to giving dollars. In reality though there are many different ways to give back to the community. The best workplaces are keenly aware that while giving money is appreciated, it doesn’t offer the same cultural impact that giving of time and talent can achieve. To help you take your corporate giving programs to the next level we have put together some ideas to inspire you.

From the Canada Survey of Business Contributions to Community (CSBCC), corporations give over $3 billion to charities per year. The survey found that companies gave back to charities and non-profits for both altruistic and business motivations. 
  • 50% of corporations contribute because it builds healthy and strong communities and that is good for business.
  • 48% of corporations are motivated to give because it fits with their values and culture.
  • 45% give back because they believe it is the right thing to do.

The current trend is for corporate giving campaigns to move beyond a simple dedication of dollars per year to a charity of choice. Now, corporate giving provides a key opportunity to engage employees and further integrate your corporate values into your workplace culture.

Employees increasing want to feel part of something bigger than just the walls within which they work. They want to feel proud of their company and feel that the work they do contributes to the betterment of society. Corporate giving provides an effective means to create this connection and position your organization as one that people want to work for.

Beyond work-life balance, millenials aim for work-life integration where personal and professional life blends together. Corporate giving helps them meet this goal and engage further with the company they work for.

Peter Drucker famously said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and you can leverage the power of giving, volunteering and philanthropy to build and strengthen your culture. Corporate giving initiatives allow people to match their passions with their day-to-day work. Beyond work-life balance, millenials aim for work-life integration where personal and professional life blends together. Corporate giving helps them meet this goal and engage further with the company they work for.


There are a variety of ways that companies give back to their community, and while cash donations do still top the list; the push to engage more with employees has changed how giving programs are designed and implemented.


The top trend is to allow employees to take the lead in determining where the giving dollars go. This reinforces a personal connection between the employee and the company. When you support causes that your people are already passionate about, you send a clear message that their interests and ideas matter. And there are probably many places where your corporate causes overlap with your employees’ interests thus further establishing an engagement point.

When you support causes that your people are already passionate about, you send a clear message that their interests and ideas matter.

At Softchoice they take employee empowerment to the next level. A board of 14 employee volunteers leads their corporate philanthropic initiatives. The board members change every 18 months encouraging people from across the country to get involved. Following an intensive two-day training course, they guide the company's philanthropic activities. In the middle of the board’s term, all members are sent on a two-week volunteer project abroad funded completely by Softchoice.

Remember too, to survey your employees regularly to determine their interest areas and availability. When you receive requests from charities for donations of time or money you can use the results to create a match.


Payroll deductions are a simple and effective way to encourage regular giving at your organization. You can choose to match donations on a percentage or annual maximum basis. These programs allow you to reach a broad base of employees and it reinforces employee choice.

You may also want to send regular communications listing opportunities for your staff to give back and sharing metrics on the charitable activity that has taken place during the period. This helps keep people connected and understand how their efforts fit into the big picture.

Support Issues versus Charitable Organizations
Increasingly people are interested in supporting an issue over a specific charity. This is a great way to unify employees across geographic locations as they can support local charities that share a common objective.


Volunteerism is a key means of engaging people with a cause. In fact, 84% of the Best Workplaces© allow employees to take paid time to volunteer for a community project or charitable cause. Of these, the average yearly allotment is 18 hours with a handful of organizations offering an unlimited amount of time to volunteer. Discover and celebrate what employees are already doing as volunteers. Offer to do pro-bono work for charities of their choice. Establish company-wide volunteer days as another great way to give back and engage your people. Here again the message is that you care about what your employees care about.

As part of their citizenship program, Edelman sponsors a program they call Community Investment Grants. The program provides employees an opportunity to apply for a $500-$2,500 grant to organizations with which they are involved as a regular volunteer. In its inaugural year, Edelman awarded more than 60 organizations grant money worldwide, totaling approximately $150,000.


Sharing corporate goods, talent and expertise is a great way for companies to give back to their community and directly engage employees. When considering volunteer opportunities, think about how your company can lend its expertise to help a charity run more efficiently. Hold an employee-led training event in marketing or human resources to as a way to make a difference. You may also be able to help a not-for-profit set their strategic goals or work on their vision and values statement. Support-programs like this allow nonprofit organizations to benefit from free services and they create a direct link between an employee’s work and their ability to make a difference in their community.

This year Autodesk Canada piloted a pro bono volunteering program where employees used their professional skills, such as technical design and marketing communications to benefit non-profit organizations. 14 projects involving 45 employees were undertaken with great success. Partner companies received pro bono help with high-impact projects and employees witness firsthand how they can help create a better world.

Similarly, employees at Fuller Landau give back to their community through volunteer tax clinics. Team members volunteer each year to go out to different clinics and provide face-to-face interaction while completing personal tax returns.


As a way to kickstart your giving program you can provide an upfront dollar amount for employees to donate to a charity of their choice. This quickly reinforces how important giving back is to your organization and culture. This initial amount is typically in addition to any annual or matching program you establish.

Another popular program is called “Dollars for Doers” where employees are given a dollar amount to donate based on the amount of hours of volunteerism they contribute. For example, for every 10 hours of volunteering an employee does at non-profit that non-profit receives a $200 donation. You may consider extending this program to retirees as a way to increase your community outreach.

Rewarding volunteerism is another way to incentivize your giving program. At 3M they present an Employee Volunteer award to honor 10 outstanding employees or retirees who volunteer in their communities. Winners receive a $1,000.00 gift donation from the company for the not-for-profit organization of their choice.

These are just a few ideas to help you establish a strong link between corporate giving and employee engagement. The key is to stay connected with what your people are interested in, and then find ways to support and encourage their individual charitable efforts with those of the broader organization. Today more than ever, people are interested in creating strong and healthy communities as well as looking for meaning in their work. Corporate giving programs can provide the link employees are looking for to more fully integrate their values with those of the organization they work for.

Modern giving and volunteering programs recognize this and are leveraging it to shape their culture and create a more engaged workforce. From providing personalized charitable giving options to incentivizing your corporate giving program there are many ways you can take your giving to the next level while at the same time creating a strong win for your people and your business.

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