Why Every Company Needs an Integrated Giving Program - Good360

Why Every Company Needs an Integrated Giving Program

The ESG and CSR movement has evolved significantly since it first began taking root in companies around the globe in the 1970s. A 2019 survey indicated that seventy-seven percent of Americans believe it’s either “somewhat” or “very important” for companies to make the world a better place.

When structuring their giving initiatives, companies should leverage all the resources at their disposal, including but not limited to monetary contributions, in-kind donations, shipping and warehousing, volunteers, their public platforms, employee and customer-facing campaigns, point-of-sale promotions, etc.

Philanthropic giving should be embraced and socialized across all departments—not just siloed within CSR or ESG teams. By doing so, companies ensure that all stakeholders throughout the organization are engaged, empowered, and excited to make a difference. Plus, each team brings with it its own set of expertise, assets, and motivations to get involved. Integrated giving allows companies to maximize their impact with the resources they have available.

Why Integrate?

It is no secret that being integrated across an organization is a challenge as most are organized in silo fashion with distinct budgets, goals, and objectives. More often than not, giving campaigns are fragmented across CSR and ESG initiatives.

In the Harvard Business Review, Michael Porter and Mark Kramer summarize the current result as “a hodgepodge of uncoordinated CSR and philanthropic activities disconnected from the company’s strategy that neither makes any meaningful social impact nor strengthen the firm’s long-term competitiveness.”

McKinsey also argues that CSR has failed its main purpose—to build stronger relationships with the external world. Therefore, it’s time for a new approach to engage the external environment, which should include corporate philanthropy, community programs, aspects of product design, recruiting policy, project execution, and more. 

To take an important step forward, McKinsey suggests integrating external engagement deeply into every part of the business by defining what it contributes to society, knowing the stakeholders, engaging radically with them, and applying world-class management. 

As companies seek greater external engagement, they can begin to connect outside communities with internal assets that can be useful to them, such as employee volunteers, company facilities, technology, and excess product inventory or unsold goods.

Making a Stronger Impact

With aligned values, congruent messaging, and a radical aim to make a big impact, companies can go way beyond the traditional, yet simplistic act of choosing a charity and writing a check every year. 

That’s right, we (employees and customers) want more. In fact, a study done by PWC reported that over 75% of consumers polled said they are more likely to buy from a company that supports environmental, social, or governance causes.

Let’s look at a couple of ideas that can help your company move toward integrated giving programs.

Let employees lead the way

Employees want to participate too, so give them the opportunity. 

The 2016 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study reports that 64% of millennials won’t take a job if a company doesn’t have strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) values. Additionally (and impressively), 88% of millennial employees also say their job is more fulfilling when they’re provided opportunities to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues.

A good place to start is to offer automatic payroll deductions as a giving option so employees can set a specific amount to be withdrawn from their paychecks.

Another way to actively involve employees is to give them the opportunity to use their own unique skills and expertise and offer pro bono services through the company. This is a fantastic volunteer effort that bridges knowledge gaps and makes a tangible difference in the community.

Here’s a great example of this type of employee engagement executed well: Chicago-based tech firm Relativity offers a comprehensive corporate giving and volunteer program that includes the opportunity to teach coding classes and offer career exploration to the students of local schools in need.

If you need another reason to implement volunteer opportunities in the workplace, a 2016 Deloitte study on volunteering indicated they were twice as likely to rate their corporate culture as very positive if their company participated in workplace volunteer activities. 

A few more excellent ways to put the power of giving into your employees’ hands: 

  • Offering volunteer paid time off 
    • Like many leading companies, Good360 offers paid volunteer time off (VTO) for our team members, encouraging them to volunteer on company time. 
  • Matching volunteer hours with monetary donations.
    • Apple instituted a 1:1 gift matching program in 2011 and since then has matched over $25 million worth of employee donations. That’s $50 million donated to charities all over the world. Good360 has an integration in our giving platform that allows you to submit your contribution for company match. 
  • Incentivizing your employees
    • Good360 incentivizes the use of VTO by providing a donation on behalf of the employee to a member of our network when their allotment is used for the year.

Get your customers in on the act (of giving)

From packaging integrations to social media campaigns and even the point-of-sale, customers want to know what your company is doing. And more than that, they want to be involved. Giving them a chance to do so is good for business and expands the impact of what your allocated resources could otherwise do.

Do you donate a portion of your product or service to charity? Do you have significant charitable partners? Tell your consumers about that on your packaging! This is a simple way to create and retain a loyal customer base. At the same time, social media campaigns can be used to tell your story in a more targeted way. The possibilities are as wide as your imagination. One Good360 corporate partner hosted a long-term campaign encouraging customers to leave reviews of their products, and in return, they made a gift on behalf of each participant to our charitable work.

But the possibilities don’t end there– and nor do the business implications. Studies have shown that point-of-sale campaigns produce big results for hosting companies. One vendor that provides integrations for these programs, Change Up, indicated that for every dollar customers donate to nonprofits, $4.88 in new sales are generated. They also reported that brand loyalty, sales conversion rates and average order volumes increased notably. Allowing customers to donate at checkout is an easy way to get them involved in how your company gives back.

Find where social impact and environmental sustainability meet

Oftentimes, a company’s attempt to fulfill its ESG commitments comes in fragmented fits and starts. Zero waste goals are sometimes in a silo from their social impact and community engagement initiatives. By engaging associates and consumers in practices that meet both social and environmental goals at the same time, organizations get closer to achieving the impact they seek to have. 

Diverting products destined for landfills is critically important where possible, but it does little to address the challenges people face in the communities where companies operate. Donation over liquidation is one method by which organizations can limit waste and fill societal needs. 

Likewise, identifying where along the supply chain inefficiencies have adverse impacts on people or the planet should be considered. Are there areas where significantly limited resources are worth the additional carbon emissions needed to supply needed goods and services to remote or rural populations? Alternatively, is it possible to limit passing goods back up the supply chain and instead identify ways to donate or repurpose goods closer to their points of origin? Good360 works with our partners to balance business, environmental, and social priorities to make decisions that make the most sense for their individual organizations. 

Move towards sponsorships and/or affiliations

Whether big or small, companies have a powerful platform with a unique opportunity to exhibit their values and back a chosen cause with an audience at their fingertips. One excellent way to do this is through sponsorships.

Indeed reports many benefits to sponsorships. Unlike advertising, sponsorships improve a brand’s recognition and reputation because they support specific events that your target audience cares about. Sponsoring or affiliating your company with a beloved event or group also builds goodwill in the community. 

While sponsorships often entail funding, you can also provide support through in-kind donations. Your company likely has access to various products that can be used to support a nonprofit organization, including donations of technology, office supplies, apparel, nonperishable food or water, small appliances, or electronics.

As you begin your search for aligned sponsorship opportunities, Laura Steele at Submittable advises you to “think about your target customers and what kind of interests they might have. Not only will this give you a natural point of connection with the folks you most want to reach, but it will also make it easier for you to show up in an authentic way.”

The time to act is now

These integrated approaches to corporate giving programs are here to stay. Trust us. You’ll start to see the benefits: Higher employee and customer engagement and retention will make your business more competitive in the long-term.

The key is being highly intentional about your giving strategy so that every important stakeholder in your business feels involved. Your employees, customers, and the planet will thank you.

Shari Rudolph

Shari Rudolph is Chief Development Officer and Chief Marketing Officer at Good360. She is an accomplished retail, digital commerce hand media executive with a strong track record of building audiences, revenue, and brands. Shari’s previous experience includes management consulting as well as various executive and leadership roles at both start-ups and large media and retail e-commerce companies in Southern California, New York, and Silicon Valley. She is also an adjunct professor teaching marketing, advertising, and entrepreneurial studies classes. She earned her MBA from The Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA.