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Cracking the Code on Workplace Giving and Millennials

By 3p Contributor

By Adam Weinger

Workplace giving is good for companies. It is good for communities. It is good for employees. It is good for charities. It is just downright, all around good.

With workplace giving, which is often referred to as corporate philanthropy, companies have an excellent opportunity to increase employee engagement. Unfortunately, many companies drop the ball on this front.

Why does corporate philanthropy increase employee engagement? Well, borrowing from the reasoning of Ockham’s Razor, noting that the simplest answer is often the correct one, workplace giving raises employee engagement for one main reason.

Workplace giving programs show employees that their employers support their interests and charitable endeavors outside the four corners of the office space.

There’s a strongly positive correlation between employee engagement and company performance. In fact, when comparing companies with actively engaged employees to companies without, companies with engaged employees outperform the others by over 200 percent.

Given the general benefits of improved engagement, how then can companies with these philanthropic programs increase employee participation?

There is so much unrealized potential in workplace giving, it is a shame how often it is overlooked or missed entirely. For example, the median employee participation rate in matching gift programs, a subset of workplace giving, is a measly 9 percent. That percentage should be considerably higher.

One solution to this disconnect — the one which this article will be addressing — is working to up Millennial participation in workplace giving programs.

Why do we need to target millennials for workplace giving?

To start, millennials recently surpassed Generation X to take the crown of largest generation in the U.S. labor force. And their numbers are only growing.

In terms of workplace giving, this population dominance indicates where companies should start targeting.

Millennials, who cap out at around age 35 at the moment, are phasing into higher leadership positions and, as such, they can start to set a corporate philanthropy participation precedent for the younger members of their generation.

Millennials also grew up in a different philanthropic world than those before them. Millennials' charitable instincts and those of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers have some inherent dissimilarities. Millennials grew up in the age of the Internet and cell phones and increasingly pervasive technology, and that has shaped the way they think about charity.

Nonprofits are leaning full tilt into securing donations from millennials, and corporations need to follow with their workplace giving programs.

Follow the three tips below to crack the code on attracting millennials to workplace giving.

If you’re looking to increase employee participation in corporate philanthropy programs, you need to be in it for the long haul. That being said, by targeting one employee age group at a time you will see results quicker. It’s a quality over quantity approach. And starting with the youngest generation in the workforce can only help stabilize participation as Generation Z rises behind millennials.

1. Raise awareness

By far, the largest obstacle in the way of employees taking advantage of workplace giving is lack of awareness.

Nonprofits do their best to face the challenge of minimal awareness head on, but if your corporation wants your workplace giving program to succeed, it is going to need to do the same.

The current culture is such that if someone wants to donate to a charity or volunteer, that person can figure out how to do so with a few swipes on a smartphone’s touch screen. If you want employees to think of your programs in that five minute window, your workplace giving opportunities need to be front and center in employees’ minds.

Promote workplace giving during onboarding, on your website, in your company newsletter, through Facebook pages if you have them, and so on.

2. Simplify the process

Life with the internet is easy peasy. Do you want to know who that actor is in that one movie? Look it up online. Wanting to wish a friend a happy birthday? Send an e-card. Everything is unimaginably accessible because of the Internet — we all know this. That luxury reverberates in our daily culture.

We not only crave immediacy, we feel like it is a given. Since that is the case, if the process for any of your workplace giving programs is overly complicated, they’re less likely to be used.

There are great options out there for companies who want assistance managing workplace giving programs. If you’re looking for inspiration, Apple’s and Microsoft’s respective corporate philanthropy programs are good places to begin.

Whether an employee is eligible for a matching gift or a volunteer grant, if the process to receive that funding is arduous and complicated, they’re probably not going to submit a request. At that point your program is being wasted and nonprofits that could have benefited are out of luck.

3. Keep causes at the core

Millennials are strongly cause-focused and less attached to specific nonprofits. As such, your workplace giving program should emphasize causes. Last year, two of the largest charitable subsectors were education and human services. There’s clearly a trend in that direction, so ensure that your workplace giving program addresses causes in those two categories.

If we consider the path of a traditional giving pattern of a millennial, it would look something like this:

Learning About a Cause → Growing Interest in a Cause → Finding a Way to Get Involved → Donating and/or Volunteering with a Nonprofit that Serves that Cause

A workplace giving program’s organic point of inclusion for this millennial behavior pattern is usually going to be one of the last two phases.

Communicate to employees the fact that the causes that they are interested in serving can be helped through the nonprofit organizations that your corporate philanthropy program works with.

According to one study, 87 percent of millennials give money to nonprofits. That’s a high percentage. Workplace giving and nonprofit giving can work in tandem, so participation in corporate philanthropy programs has the chance to rise to levels like that 87 percent.

Workplace giving programs have incredible philanthropic potential, but they need to be handled appropriately to thrive. Start by getting the largest population in the workforce involved, and then expand your aims to more and more employee groups.

Image credit: Pixabay/StartUpStockPhotos

Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of matching gift tools and services to nonprofits. You can connect with Double the Donation on TwitterLinkedIn, or personally contact Adam.

TriplePundit has published articles from over 1000 contributors. If you'd like to be a guest author, please get in touch!

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