In my six years in the not-for-profit sector, I’ve come across really successful examples of corporate foundations engaging their employees in their community objectives. The best of these managed to not only generate a sense of purpose among their employees, but also made a tremendous impact on the charities they supported.
I’ve listed here my top five tips to generate employee engagement, as I’ve experienced them with various foundation partners.
#1 Set up skilled volunteering
When employees are given the chance to use their expertise to benefit a for-purpose organisation, they get to experiment in an unfamiliar environment. This might bring learning opportunities, new networks or a fresh perspective. And as a small charity, the ability to access the talent of large corporates is absolutely priceless.
It is the more structured approach to skilled volunteering that I have experienced as being more successful. This ‘structure’ is either an online platform like Benevity, Communiteer or the organisation’s own portal, or an internal ambassador (see #2) who can source the right people for the right projects.
#2 Allocate ambassadors
Our most successful partnerships are the ones where an ambassador represent our organisation. The roles of the ambassador are to drive engagement with employees, negotiate the internal networks to support the charity’s needs and promote it, as relevant.
#3 Host internal events
I’ve been invited on numerous occasions to present at internal events, whether that be a staff lunch, a fundraising morning tea, a board presentation or a learning and development team offsite. These are such simple ways to raise awareness of a foundation’s partners, whilst generating a sense of pride for one’s workplace.
#4 Match your employee giving
Most corporates match their employees’ donations, to varying levels. It’s a simple principle - it’s about encouraging your people to do good for the community, wherever their hearts take them. It’s like saying “Good job - we’ve got your back!”
#5 Create decision-makers
I’ve seen great examples where foundations were able to involve employees in the decision made around the choice of the charity partners. In some instances, it was through individual voting, in others, through the forming of a foundation committee made up of employees from various locations and departments. In any case, it led to greater buy-in and accountability.
As a small charity, the closer we can get to our foundation partners, the more opportunities arise for us, thus contributing to boost our efforts. So active employee engagement into a foundation’s community objectives has the potential to not only create a sense of pride and purpose towards the business as a whole, but to propel a charity forward.
I would be very interested to hear about other initiatives (particularly innovative ones!) foundations have implemented to lead the way in employee engagement.