By Dan Berner, Dallas News
The COVID-19 pandemic may be one of the most consequential events in our lifetimes, profoundly affecting societies, businesses and economies around the world. And, in North Texas and across the U.S., calls for social justice and racial equity add another layer of urgency for lawmakers, civic and business leaders to reshape society.
Meanwhile, the pandemic is forcing droves of employees to work remotely, causing or perhaps exacerbating feelings of disconnect from management and colleagues.
I spy two needs here. One is increased generosity to fellow citizens in need. The other is for a more meaningful connection between employees and employers. There might just be a magic ingredient that meets both: workplace giving programs.
Consider the data. Last year, more than 80% of surveyed North Texas professionals donated at least the same amount of money or more to charities than in previous years because of COVID-19. Much of the increased giving went to organizations focused on hunger, homelessness, education and equipment for first responders and medical personnel, according to Deloitte’s recent workplace giving survey. Responding to the calls for justice and equity, North Texas respondents donated 10% more to social and racial equity causes last year than they did in 2019.
Most, however, did not use workplace giving programs to exercise their philanthropy. Fewer than 1 in 5 (18%) North Texans donated through workplace programs. Asked why they didn’t use these vehicles, just under half (47%) said they already contribute to a cause or organization on their own.
The survey uncovered an important key for companies wanting to boost workplace donations: cause matters.
The two biggest motivators for workplace giving cited by North Texas professionals are the opportunity through workplace giving to donate to specific causes or organizations they care about (43%) and donation matching by employer (23%). Generosity to those in need is admirable, whether it’s done with or outside of workplace programs. That so few employees use workplace programs indicates a great opportunity for business to grow them. As they do, that could make the generous even more so, possibly encouraging others to discover the joy of philanthropy, and boost workplace camaraderie.
With that vision in mind, here are a few ideas to help North Texas companies burnish their charitable efforts.
Add a workplace giving program if you don’t have one. If you do, advertise it often via regular communications from management. (Employees can’t engage in a program if they don’t know it exists.)
Ask your employees what causes they’d like to support. Ask early, and ask often, as it’s likely that their answers will change year over year. And consider establishing or beefing up a donation-matching program. When employees realize that their $50 contribution can become $100 simply by using an office-based giving program, chances are they may get on board with workplace-based giving.
It might sound insignificant, but I am convinced that a well-advertised, well-supported workplace giving program designed with plenty of employee input can help support the community and build company camaraderie, one donated (and matched) dollar at a time. Make your employees proud to say, “I gave at the office.”