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The case for corporate philanthropy is clear. Studies show corporate philanthropy attracts and retains top talent, recruits and reinforces brand loyalists, and enhances a company’s reputation. The question is no longer: should a company engage in philanthropy, but how?

There are many tried and true options—matching employees’ charitable donations, offering volunteer time off, providing dollars for doers. But with so many different ways to engage, it’s becoming more and more critical to do so in a way that aligns with your company’s brand identity and with your employees’ everyday functions.

Here are five creative ways your company can intwine corporate philanthropy into its everyday:

  • Empower employees to be decision-makers. At Cummins, employees, not a CSR department, organize most of the company’s community service work and implement projects with local nonprofit partners eligible for grant funding. The company has more than 200 employee-led Community Involvement Teams around the globe leveraging employees’ skills to tackle the biggest problems facing their local communities. Every grant aligns with at least one of Cummins’ global CSR priority areas: environment, education, and social justice.
  • Make volunteer activities part of new hire onboarding. Salesforce and Airbnb are two San Francisco-based companies that do just that. Volunteering as part of your company’s onboarding can help you:
    • foster team-building,
    • instill corporate values of civic and community engagement, and
    • connect with local communities.
  • Celebrate employee milestones. Dell EMC gives the gift of giving to new employees and those celebrating service anniversaries. Each month, Dell EMC sends employees a custom-designed GlobalGiving eCard to recognize service anniversaries and new hire onboarding. Employees receive the eCard in their inbox directing them to a custom-branded landing page with projects curated by business region and aligned with the company’s CSR pillars.
  • Encourage mentorship. HPE facilitates a mentorship program for employees. GlobalGiving nonprofit partners apply to the program and if selected, HPE conducts mentor-mentee matchmaking. Employees leverage existing everyday skill sets by providing pro-bono volunteer services to nonprofit partners.
  • Help during times of disaster.  When natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes strike in its communities, TripAdvisor and GlobalGiving identify local charitable partners who can help with immediate and long-term recovery efforts. TripAdvisor also matches employee donations to select disaster recovery efforts.

But why does all this matter?

It matters because employee engagement is crucial for recruitment and retention. According to America’s Charities Snapshot 2017, 70% of employees say mission and value alignment are the most important factors and giving and volunteering are imperative, while 50% of employees believe the company should facilitate opportunities for charitable engagement.

It matters because employees are the most trusted company ambassadors. Keeping this stakeholder group happy and engaged has the salutary effect of also increasing consumer brand loyalty. Consumers care about whether or not a company is a good employer even if they aren’t the employee. In the 2017 Cone Communications CSR study, an overwhelming 94% of consumers indicated that they cared more about this than operations, products, investing, and social justice.

It matters because strong CSR consistently reaps reputational and bottom-line benefits year-over-year as approximately 90% of consumers have a more positive image, trust the company more, and would be more loyal while 90% of consumers are very/somewhat likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause given similar price and quality, according to the-2017 Cone Communications CSR Study.

At the end of the day, employees and consumers know the real deal with they see it. So, engage meaningfully, creatively, and authentically.
About Sarah Groninger
As a Business Partnerships Manager at GlobalGiving, Sarah is responsible for managing and building new relationships with corporate partners. She is passionate about helping businesses create global employee giving and strategic philanthropy programs. Prior to joining GlobalGiving, Sarah worked in Chicago for IFF as a member of its Real Estate Services team, providing consulting and development services to a broad portfolio of nonprofit organizations throughout the Midwest. She holds a Global MBA from the George Washington University and a B.A. in Political Science, French, and international studies from the University of Wisconsin. In her spare time, Sarah can be found rooting for her beloved Badgers, escaping the city for a weekend getaway, or trying out a new recipe in the kitchen.