082: Understanding workplace giving with America’s Charities

 Workplace giving contributes roughly $4 billion to charities in the U.S. each year. As the data show, there is a burgeoning interest in the workforce of aligning with organizations that share their personal values, and that includes giving back either through monetary contributions or in-kind pro bono work.

There’s no organization better suited to talk about workplace giving than America’s Charities (though we may be biased — George chairs the board). We sat down with their Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Lindsay J.K. Nichols, to learn more about the ways companies are giving back to the causes that matter most to their employees. Lindsay also shares data from America’s Charities annual snapshot on workplace giving trends.


What is America’s Charities?

America’s Charities inspires employees and organizations to support causes they care about. A nonprofit itself, America’s Charities’ goal is to help other nonprofits through workplace giving. In 40 years as a leader in this space, they have raised over $700 million for more than 20,000 nonprofits in cause sectors such as education, human rights, hunger, poverty, research, animal welfare, veteran assistance, disaster relief, and health services.

Founded on the principle that charitable choice — the idea that employers and employees should be able to support the causes they choose, rather than feel coerced to support specific institutions — is imperative to social impact, America’s Charities has never wavered from its original purpose.

Since 1980, America’s Charities has been at the forefront of workplace giving’s transformation: from paper pledges to digital platforms, from giving to engagement, from traditional fall campaigns to year-round opportunities inside and outside the walls of the workplace.

What is workplace giving?

Workplace giving is a corporate culture model that drives employees to support a cause, either with monetary contributions or in-kind pro bono work or volunteering. The difference between workplace giving and individual giving is that workplace giving typically happens via payroll: Employees contribute a small amount from their paycheck every month.

This is extremely valuable for nonprofits because it creates expected, automated, and sustainable revenue. It’s also easier to ask these donors to increase their monthly donation as they are already bought into the cause — thereby further down the funnel of engagement.

Another means of workplace giving takes place through investment: Some companies invest in the communities around their headquarters, and some invest in specific programs that are important to their organization and employees.

Why do companies have workplace giving, and how much do they raise?

In a survey of 1,500 employees by America’s Charities, 71% of respondents said that they want to work for a company that aligns with their personal values. This is becoming more of an important factor in how people choose where they work.

These employees also noted that they want to use workplace giving as a way to relate and connect to each other. Following this growing culture, organizations are setting up their own programs and contributing to a total of $4 billion in workplace giving per year. As an organization, America’s Charities is looking to raise $1 billion for worthy causes by 2026.

Though workplace giving is a smaller revenue driver for nonprofits compared to other fundraising efforts, it’s still a significant piece of the pie.

What kinds of companies should start workplace giving programs?

All kinds! If your employees care about a variety of causes, or one cause in particular, your company should consider starting a workplace giving program as an added benefit. In the previously-mentioned 2017 survey conducted by America’s Charities, employees of all age brackets, working for companies across all industries, expressed interest in workplace giving.

What about nonprofits looking to get into workplace giving?

1. Report on impact

Employees want to know where their money is going and how it’s being used. You can’t over-communicate on impact.

2. Listen to your donors

Survey them and talk to them to make sure your services align with their values.

3. Offer incentives for participating

If companies can give employees time off to volunteer or engage with your organization, they may be more likely to participate.

4. Give options

People want to be able to make their own choices. Encourage companies to give employees different ways of giving so they can find the way that works best for them.

5. Embrace technology

There are so many fundraising tools and donation platforms that make it easy for  companies and donors.

6. Develop partnerships

Build a relationship and a dialogue so it feels transformational rather than transactional.