Although some may be uninspired, most still click the button and give what they can. This kind of apathetic giving may raise adequate funds, but it also misses so many other great opportunities:
· The charity loses the chance to endear more people to its mission.
· The employee misses out on the unparalleled joy of giving.
· The company gives up a terrific opportunity for employee engagement.
Luckily, there are simple things every employer can do to change this dynamic.
It’s all about meeting employees where they are. Especially in large companies with a diverse workforce, offering options for participating is crucial to meeting engagement goals.
Tiered giving levels can be a good strategy, but designing configurable and self-selected activities would be far better.
For instance, in its recent United Way campaign, Bank Iowa devised several activities that would ultimately raise money, but would also continue to bond its team members, even as they were working apart. They hosted pay-to-play virtual bingo, a fund-raising virtual scavenger hunt and a special “We’re Going the Social Distance” 5K. The run was a self-guided activity, in which they invited team members to “Complete the 5K Your Way.” Participants had a full week to finish their 5Ks any time they wanted via one of several routes the organizing team mapped out for them.
Bank Iowa offered flexibility and choice in a few smaller ways, too. Team members could participate in the Virtual Kick-Off event at either 7:30 a.m. or 3:00 p.m., whichever worked best for their day. And, they offered four additional virtual events across the next two weeks to give everyone the chance to pop in and see what the effort was all about.
Within seven days of launching the campaign, more than 75 percent of team members had signed up to take part in one or more of the activities!
Tying a campaign to a company’s culture is another critical piece to inspiring engagement in a giving effort. Doing so makes the campaign feel like a natural extension of the company’s ongoing purpose, rather than an unwelcome disruption. One of Bank Iowa’s core values is to be people-centered, and within that ambition is the promise to celebrate effort as often as outcomes. It keeps everyone motivated, connected and tenacious. Designing the campaign around team members and the kinds of activities they already enjoy gave the bank a tremendous leg up as they invited employees to take part in a giving campaign.
Among several of the evolutions COVID-19 brought about was an acceleration of the value of empathy. The pandemic taught everyone how good companies could get at meeting employees where they are. Just think of the different ways your company learned to listen, to accommodate and to reward team members as they navigated unique pandemic-related circumstances. It’s a blessing, albeit one shrouded in a lot of pain and hurt.
The heavy lifting of alleviating that pain will fall mainly to the charitable organizations that keep Des Moines strong. Employers in the city have so much to give to these non-profits, and with a few tiny twists and a healthy dose of culture-centric fun, Des Moines’s for-profits can contribute at greater levels than ever before.