Company culture matters. And at some point, every company will be faced with the challenge of building or renewing its company culture. Every one. And there is no better way to build company culture than through giving.
Did you know that 46% of new hires quit within 18 months? Did you know that turnover rates are lower and productivity is higher at companies with a strong or healthy culture? The data is compelling. The question is what can we do about it?
You might work for a startup company asking itself for the first time "What kind of company culture do we want?" Maybe you are at a ten-year-old tech company enjoying lots of success. But with success has come growth, remote offices, and even an acquisition or two. People are losing touch with the company's core mission ... and with each other.
Or, challenge of challenges, perhaps you work at a Fortune-level global company and senior management is concerned that everybody seems to go through the motions of work, but nobody cares. Your job is to breathe new life into that company's culture. Where would you start?
The answer: Build - or re-build - your company culture through giving. Why? Because giving - workplace giving, to be specific - works.
Let's first explore why workplace giving works. Then, let's take a look at how you can build your company culture through giving. And finally, we'll share a great example of company that is re-building its company culture with giving.
For starters, let's dismiss a common misconception. Workplace giving is not simply a fundraising campaign. Yes, your employees are supporting great causes. And yes, through giving at the workplace, charities receive a tremendous benefit of time, money and in-kind contributions.
Workplace giving, in fact, can take on many forms. Employees can give of their time or money. Companies can give money, even match employee donations. We can give "in-kind", meaning we can give "stuff" to a charity that has specific needs. Adding to the landscape, gifts-in-kind campaign can take on different forms:
- Companies can donate unsold inventory to charities.
- Employees can give used items, to be re-purposed.
- Both employees and companies can buy and donate needed supplies from wish lists and gift registries that charities promote.
Still, workplace giving is much more than fundraising. Let's face it, in today's digital world, any one of us can give to any charity just about any time. And we do. A lot. In 2018, Americans gave $427 billion to charity. Wow! Pat on back.
So what is it about workplace giving that is "more" than fundraising? More to the point, why is workplace giving so good for company culture?
Building a healthy company culture
Lots - and I mean lots - has been written about company culture. Creating it, nurturing it, expanding it, what's healthy, what's not, transferring it, re-building it, etc. Without writing yet another treatise on the subject, Forbes published an excellent discussion on the subject, here. I'd like to highlight five key points from their discussion that I think matter most. To build or nurture a healthy culture, companies need to focus on:
- Empowering and encouraging employees,
- Communicating consistently and frequently, up, down, sideways,
- Demonstrating that the company cares about the employees,
- Walking the talk, from leadership down, and
- Telling the story that everyone is part of a shared mission.
That last point is particularly important. When employees feel like they are part of a shared mission, then they are taking part in an important story. A story made up of a lot of smaller stories, all contributing to a larger purpose. And this leads to a culture of trust, openness, shared commitment.
And that returns us to the subject of this blog post: building company culture through giving.
Why workplace giving works
Did you ever stop and think about the fact that giving may be what we human beings do best? Everyone can give. The more we practice it, the better we are at it. And we never run out of people and communities that need our help.
Workplace giving is not simply a fundraising program - it is a path to transforming company cultures.
When companies promote giving, they are transforming their companies and building healthier company cultures. The two go hand-in-hand. Remember those above-mentioned key points to nurturing your company's culture? Through workplace giving, your company will:
- Empower employees to create campaigns and give to the causes of their choice. Greater choice and support for more causes that employees care about nurtures that sense of empowerment.
- Create new and impactful messages to be communicated. Think about the impact of digital communications in the world around us - people share what they care about.
- Demonstrate that the company cares about the communities in which your employees live and work. The company cares about what the employees care about.
- Provide an opportunity for leadership walk the talk ... to interact with line employees about shared values. Consider just a few causes that your employees might get behind, like drug addiction, disaster relief, animal rescue, cancer recovery. These issues touch all of us, no matter our station in life or role in a company.
- Share in a mission and a story. Every campaign undertaken at your company is a story of need, response, impact and hope. Talk about a message to share across a company and life up a culture.
How to build company culture through giving
Workplace giving campaigns can take on many forms, as I mentioned above - in-kind, volunteering, payroll deduction, corporate giving. You need a little planning and few co-workers to help get started. Here's a quick plan to get you started.
1. Choose a cause. You don't need to create something new. Employees and companies are busy. So find one or more causes that you can get behind. And the best way to do this is to engage fellow employees for ideas and recommendations. This way, you will ensure that the company the employees will share in the mission.
2. Get some software to help you. I know, sounds like a marketing pitch for RightGift - and it is - but it is also very true. Inexpensive or free software platforms to manage workplace giving are out there - we are one of them. And the software will make your life a lot easier.
3. Stay local. People give to people and causes that they care about. And usually, we care most about the people and causes closest to us. A workplace giving campaign doesn't need to be a centralized effort where everyone gives to one organization. Let local offices choose local charities or schools. For example, would a successful back-to-school supply drive collect items for one large, central agency? Or would it involve lots of local campaigns benefitting local schools?
4. Reach out to everyone. Much of today's workforce is distributed. I know it sounds obvious, but don't forget that people in remote offices care just as much as people at headquarters! Encourage everyone's participation ... or, at least offer the opportunity to participate to everyone. And when you are ready to promote the campaign, use all resources at your disposal - email, slack channels, intranets, social media.
5. Leadership matters. In fact, leadership matters a lot. You don't want a top-down message that everyone must give because the CEO says so. Rather, you want leaders across the company to be some of the first people to jump in, join a volunteer planning team, make an early donation, and promote the message of the campaign. And perhaps most importantly, leadership needs to promote and thank the employees doing the "unsung hero" work of pulling together the campaign.
6. Matching helps. Does your company have a marketing budget? Of course it does. Throw some of that money at your workplace giving programs. Matching is a great way to do that. Matching encourages employee participation. It demonstrates a shared commitment. And it shows that the company is "walking the talk".
7. Celebrate. Can't say this last point enough. Celebrate your workplace giving campaign launch. Celebrate stories of participation. Celebrate the impact you are having on neighbors and communities. Celebrate as you wrap up. Everybody wants to join in a celebration. Build that culture!
Epilogue. Repeat. Yep. Another point we cannot stress enough. Don't assume that one workplace giving campaign will change a company culture. It won't. But a commitment to giving over time will. More causes. More campaigns. Local campaigns. Teams of employees working together. Being part of a shared story. Communicating that story throughout the company.
Every workplace giving campaign is a story of need, response, impact and hope.
Before you know it, your employees will start to say things like "Wow, that was pretty cool." And "I didn't realize people around here cared that much." And finally, "What can we do next?"
Before we wrap up, an example
Ferguson, headquartered in Newport News, Virginia, is a plumbing supply company with 1,400 locations and 27,000 employees across the country. Not long ago, Ferguson determined that they wanted to build a stronger culture of collaboration, communication, and shared mission.
With so many employees in so many locations, organized under many different departments, Ferguson was looking for something to help bring employees together. Leadership thought about it long and hard. They chose giving.
Ferguson turned to RightGift to help them launch new giving programs in one community after another. RightGift offers an easy to use platform to support localized gifts-in-kind campaigns. And the basic service plan is free of charge.
Wrapping it up
Company culture isn't always easy to wrap our head around, or our hands. It can be squishy, even messy. Good companies can get it wrong. Big companies can lose sight of its importance. But companies of all sizes can nurture and renew their company cultures at any time. It just takes effort and purpose.
Giving - workplace giving - is a perfect way to build your company culture. You need a passion for it. We have shared ours. You need a plan. We have provided that, too.
And if you need help, just give us a shout. We would love to speak with you.