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68% of Nonprofits Say This About Donations vs Volunteers - “Show us the money!”

November 8, 2022
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Recently, leaders have stopped organizing employee volunteer events and shifted towards gifting and matching programs for good reasons.That's because company leaders have discovered that they're not the only ones that think volunteering isn't the best place for highly-skilled employees to spend their limited time. In fact, two-thirds of nonprofit leaders agree that donations are often better than organizing and overseeing volunteer events.A recent poll conducted by Groundswell of 500 nonprofit leaders indicated 68% preferred receiving monetary contributions over facilitating a corporate volunteer event.If you've considered putting together a volunteer event for your employees or setting up a corporate gifting and matching program, you're in the right place.This article helps you decide what programs are best for you and your organization, what benefits and drawbacks come with organizing volunteer events, and why companies are moving away from sending their employees out and moving towards offering employees a gifting and donation match program that sends money directly to nonprofits.

Volunteers or Donations?

Volunteering is at the heart of many charity and nonprofit organizations. Without people willing to volunteer their time to support the causes they care about, some nonprofits would fall short of their goals.However, while the act of volunteering is noble and well intentioned, not all volunteers and volunteering activities are created equal. Most organizations that rely on volunteers to deliver services strive for volunteers who are willing to show up consistently, complete training, and execute tasks according to standards.For example, the Boys and Girls Club’s lifeblood is community members who sign up to mentor at-risk youth. Mentors who consistently meet with, coach, and encourage their mentees can have a profound impact on that child’s life. Conversely, a volunteer that quits after two meetings can devastate a child’s self-esteem.Similarly, Feeding America - the largest network of foodbanks in the U.S. - relies substantially on volunteers to help operate its food warehouses. But, just like any Amazon fulfillment center, maintaining an efficient operation requires effective human capital management, including volunteer scheduling and training on tasks like storing, packing and shipping different types of food items. Having dedicated volunteers that commit to consistent work shifts allows FA operations leaders to plan effectively.There are countless examples of how committed volunteers can make a difference, but anyone considering a day of volunteering should ask themselves important questions about what the nonprofit they’re aiming to support needs most: time or money?

The Truth About Why Companies Love Corporate Philanthropy

Corporations love sending employees to help nonprofits because they see it as a win-win-win: nonprofits get support, employees get engaged, and the company burnishes its reputation..It’s clear that an army of employees adorned in color-coordinated shirts emblazoned with the company’s logo, deployed out into the community with rakes or paintbrushes, makes for a great photo op. The activity sends a message to the community that the company cares, and that’s a good thing as corporate stakeholders increasingly demand that company’s focus on social impact.There’s also no doubt that the activity engages employees. It often gets them out of the office and mingling with one another in a low-stress, lighthearted way. Many will return to the office grateful that their employer prioritized making a difference.But what about the nonprofit? Have they received the resources they need most to execute their mission best?

The Pros and Cons of Hosting Volunteer Events

Corporate volunteer events are events organized by nonprofit organizations at the request of a company, often through a corporate social responsibility (CSR) team.These events generally last a few hours, typically around the same time as an employee all-hands conference or retreat. They can be hosted at the company’s headquarters or at the nonprofit’s location. Often, employee volunteers are untrained, and despite wanting to make a difference, likely have no direct tie to or passion for the nonprofit’s mission; meaning most will conclude the event with no intention of volunteering with the organization again.If coordinated with the nonprofit effectively and resourced appropriately, corporate volunteer events can create value.

Here are the pros and cons of corporate volunteers.

Benefits of volunteering:

  • Positive employee experience - employees that volunteer often walk away with a good experience and positive outlook on aiding others.
  • More hands on the project - some projects benefit from more people on a project, like with community clean-ups.
  • Positive company image - Employees that volunteer contribute to the philanthropic values of a company and improve its public image.

Drawbacks of volunteering:

  • Additional work for the nonprofits - Organizing an event, training new volunteers, and managing an unfamiliar person can take a lot of effort and resources away that could have otherwise been used on supporting the organization's cause.
  • Reduced efficiency - The best nonprofits build efficient systems to do their work. Oftentimes, corporate volunteer events operate outside these systems. This can happen geographically, by dictating the location be at the corporate office, or otherwise by having to accommodate volunteers unfamiliar with the established system or process.
  • Volunteering isn’t always equitable and inclusive - Not every employee can participate in a volunteer activity. For example, if you’re cleaning up a beach employees with mobility issues could be left out.
  • Smaller return on investment - Volunteer events take a lot of work to plan, coordinate and execute, and sometimes - especially absent an additional monetary contribution from the company - the effort doesn’t yield sufficient impact.
  • Unpredictable effort and labor - The skills of volunteers can range from amateur to expert, which can make it tough for organization leaders to get high-level contributions.
  • No time -- Businesses are busy. Not all employees, executives, investors, and board members have the time to commit to volunteering, making it easier to donate money instead of time.

While volunteering can have a handful of benefits, it can sometimes come with a great deal of unnecessary administrative duties that take valuable resources away from an organization's limited resources.

Four Valuable Insights From Nonprofit Employees

Along with uncovering the reality about corporate volunteer programs, our poll revealed important insights into the truth about how nonprofits leaders felt about shifting trends in corporate philanthropy.According to our research, 79.4% agreed that corporate volunteer events are often more focused on employee experience than generating desirable outcomes for the organization's causes.Notably, 56.2% experienced a corporate volunteer event that didn't lead to efficient outcomes for the organization's cause.Perhaps in light of that, 72.2% believe corporations should make monetary contributions to offset the effort required to facilitate corporate volunteer events.Finally, a remarkable 42.2% believe planning volunteer opportunities for companies is actually a distraction to their core mission.

Here's Why Donating Is Better Than Volunteers.

Just like any business, having working capital is crucial for charities to deliver consistent outcomes.For nonprofit organizations, donations help fuel campaign initiatives, purchase supplies, pay for employee salaries, cover the cost of insurance and support efforts made by the entity. Even volunteer events cost money! Who do you think covers the cost of those bottles of water, ham sandwiches, and cans of paint?In other words, donations support nearly every facet of an organization, from supporting their infrastructure to facilitating initiatives and backing campaigns.In nearly all cases, donations are much more flexible than volunteering. Donations can be used for anything related to the organization's operation while volunteering is limited to labor-specific tasks. Volunteering is also limited by the volunteer's level of expertise, whereas donations can be used to hire experts to accomplish the same task using less effort and resources.

Have You Launched Your Company Gifting and Matching Program?

Since donations generally contribute directly to the organization's central mission while providing them with ultimate discretion in how to deliver impact, corporate leaders and their employees are realizing their contributions can go a lot further when donating money instead of time.If you’re curious to learn more about how corporate gifting and matching programs work, you’ll find more resources on our blog.

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Unlocking Philanthropy: A Ready-to-Use Corporate Giving Policy for Modern Businesses

Sample Corporate Giving Policy You Can Use Today

In today’s socially conscious environment, more companies than ever are recognizing the value of corporate philanthropy. Not only can a robust giving policy boost a brand’s image and reputation, but it can also play a pivotal role in community development and global betterment. If your company is considering the establishment of a formal corporate giving policy or refining its existing strategy, this sample policy might be the perfect starting point for you.

Download Sample Policy

Pillars of a Strong Corporate Giving Policy

Corporate giving programs range from employer donation matching programs to full blown corporate social responsibility programs with grantmaking and volunteerism.  Many companies find somewhere in the middle that aligns with their size, budget, geographic presence and most importantly company values and commitment to diversity and inclusion. But what truly makes a corporate giving policy stand out? Let’s delve into the key features, from donation matching to the strategic use of platforms like Groundswell.

1. Donation Matching: Doubling the Impact

One of the most effective tools in a giving policy is donation matching. This is where companies match employee donations to eligible non-profits, effectively doubling the contribution. Such programs not only amplify the impact but also motivate employees to participate, knowing their chosen cause will receive twice the support.

2. Charitable Stipends: Encouraging Employee Choice

Charitable stipends are allowances given to employees to donate to a non-profit of their choice. This not only encourages a culture of giving but also empowers employees to support causes they’re passionate about. The stipends can be a fixed amount annually or can vary based on the employee’s role or tenure.

3. Dollars for Doers: Volunteering Translated to Contributions

“Dollars for Doers” programs convert volunteer hours into monetary donations. When employees volunteer their time for a cause, the company makes a donation equivalent to the hours spent. This fosters a culture of hands-on involvement and ensures that both time and money are being donated to valuable initiatives.

4. Corporate Grants: Sowing Seeds for Bigger Change

Beyond individual employee contributions, companies can set aside a dedicated fund for corporate grants. These grants can be given to non-profits, research initiatives, or community projects that align with the company’s CSR objectives. Such grants can lead to substantial, long-term changes and foster strong partnerships with community leaders and organizations.

Why Choose Groundswell for Your Giving Initiatives?

Incorporating these elements into a giving policy requires streamlined management, transparency, and ease of execution. This is where platforms like Groundswell come into the picture.

Groundswell offers an efficient and affordable solution for companies aiming to elevate their philanthropic endeavors. Here’s why it’s the ideal choice:

  • User-Friendly Interface: Groundswell’s platform is designed for both companies and employees, ensuring smooth navigation and straightforward donation processes.
  • Versatility: Whether it’s donation matching, handling charitable stipends, or managing corporate grants, Groundswell offers solutions tailored to each company’s unique needs.
  • Cost-Effective: Groundswell provides a comprehensive suite of tools at competitive prices, ensuring that more of your money goes towards the cause rather than platform fees.
  • Transparency: Track donations, monitor employee involvement, and generate detailed reports to measure the impact—all in one place.

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An effective corporate giving policy is a blend of structure, employee engagement, and impactful contributions. By incorporating elements like donation matching, charitable stipends, “Dollars for Doers,” and corporate grants, businesses can create a ripple effect of positive change. And with platforms like Groundswell, executing these initiatives becomes not just feasible but also highly efficient and cost-effective.

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5 Tips to Boost Engagement & Impact on Giving Tuesday

Leverage GivingTuesday to boost generosity

Every November, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is known as GivingTuesday, which often serves as the unofficial start of end-of-year giving campaigns. This comes on the heels of holiday shopping deals on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. It is a worldwide phenomenon, inspiring millions to lean into the end-of-year holiday spirit with generosity and compassion. For many charities, GivingTuesday has become their biggest day for donations – and can help resource their ability to have an even greater impact in the year ahead.

For companies, GivingTuesday and the end-of-year giving season offers an opportunity to double down on their commitment to social responsibility, strengthen relationships with employees, and boost their impact in the community and broader world.

At Groundswell, we partner with companies all across the country to design and launch GivingTuesday campaigns – leveraging our easy-to-use platform that makes it easy for employees to participate and send donations to the causes and charities that they care most about. Below are some best practices to boost engagement and inspire generosity during the giving season.

1. Make Giving Easy:

A lot of giving platforms out there make it incredibly hard to donate. Some don’t have all 1.5 million IRS-approved charities listed. Others require employees to navigate through a web of intranet or sharepoint sites to find the giving program landing page. And others require that HR is notified of any donations an employee wants to make. At Groundswell – we are committed to removing all of the friction, and ensuring that employees can find charities easily, through a platform that is accessible from the palm of their hand, so they can give whenever they want to.

2. Launch a GivingTuesday Match Campaign:

Through Groundswell you can customize and launch a special GivingTuesday match campaign in a matter of minutes. Simply pick the nonprofits to include in the special campaign, select the start and end-date for the campaign, and then determine the match – 2x, 3x – along with any overall budget limits, then you’re done!

3. Boost engagement by involving ERGs:

Share nonprofit recommendations from Employee Resource Groups to provide inspiration around causes and nonprofits that matter to your employees. You can feature these nonprofits on dedicated ERG Corporate Spotlights and Campaigns that will be visible to all employees on their Groundswell dashboard.

4. Surprise (and Delight) Employees With A Gift to Give:

Consider sending a surprise “gift to give” to reward those already participating in your giving program (and to incentivize others to enroll). These gifts might be used to further maximize impact through the existing campaign, or to donate to other nonprofits your employees care about. Groundswell’s custom gift feature allows companies to easily schedule and send gifts with little to no administrative burden.

5. Level up with Volunteer Matching:

Groundswell’s Volunteer Matching program – sometimes known as Dollars for Doers – recognizes that some employees may not have funds to contribute, but have time – and rewards them in the same way. It’s an inclusive approach that invites everyone to participate in GivingTuesday, even those who may not be able to donate their own funds.

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12 Employee Benefits Survey Questions Modern Companies Should Ask

In today's business environment, having the right and highest performing talent is more critical than ever. With benefits packages playing a vital role in these decisions, how can companies truly gauge their effectiveness? By initiating regular employee benefits surveys.

Scroll down for a free survey template below.

Let's dive in to the importance of asking the following questions.

Is our workforce satisfied with the current employee benefits package?

Gaining insights from "how satisfied are you with our company’s benefits package?" can offer companies a quick pulse on the effectiveness of their benefits. A dip in satisfaction might signal a need for re-evaluation, especially if you're looking to maximize your budget.

How comprehensive are the employee benefits we offer?

Do employees feel that the organization covers a wide range of their needs? Asking, "do you feel our benefits package is comprehensive in its offering?" can shed light on any potential gaps in coverage.

Are we showing true commitment to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion through our benefits?

Are the company's efforts in promoting DE&I resonating? This can be gauged by asking if the benefits genuinely support diversity and inclusion. If they aren't, here's an opportunity to collect ideas directly from your employees.

Read more about how to make sure your giving program is equitable and inclusive.

Do our benefits reflect our company culture and values?

The question, "do you feel our benefits package supports our cultural values?" will highlight any potential discrepancies in practicing what you're preaching.

Did you know? Two-thirds of employees say it’s important for a company to align to their values.

Are we catering to the needs of a remote or multi-location workforce?

With remote work on the rise, is the company adapting its benefits accordingly? It's essential to find out if employees feel supported, regardless of their work setting.

Would employees recommend the company based on our benefits?

This is an easy one to skip, but it's a great question to ask. See how influential your benefits package is for employee referrals. Determining if employees would advocate for the company based on its benefits can be a key metric for recruitment.

How do specific benefit categories fare?

By querying satisfaction levels across various benefits – physical health, social impact, mental health, financial health, and fringe benefits – can companies discern which areas are thriving and which need enhancement?

What additional benefits do employees desire?

Is there a particular benefit that could make a difference in employee satisfaction and retention? Discovering this can be as straightforward as asking, "if you could choose one benefit not currently offered, what would it be?"

If your workforce desires a more meaningful benefit, see why decentralizing your corporate philanthropy strategy can achieve greater impact at scale.

How often should I send an employee survey about our benefits?

While every business has their own set of unique needs, conducing a quarterly employee survey at minimum can help you get a pulse check.

There will be some natural and unplanned peaks in valleys throughout the year that can drastically affect employee morale and company culture. By proactively seeking feedback through surveys, companies can foster a culture of continuous improvement, ensuring they remain at the forefront of employee satisfaction.

What are some affordable benefit options we can provide employees?

Corporate matching or giving programs can be a low-cost addition to your benefit offering that supports your employees’ unique passions and perspectives through charitable giving and boosts your company’s commitment to social impact.  Groundswell offers a comprehensive solution with a simple implementation and nearly zero administration burden.

[Free Template] Employee Benefits Survey Questions

  1. How satisfied are you with our company’s benefits package?
  2. Do you feel our benefits package is comprehensive in its offering?
  3. Do you feel our benefits package supports our cultural values?
  4. Do you feel our benefits package supports our commitment to Diversity & Inclusion?
  5. Do you feel our benefits package supports our remote or multi-location workforce?
  6. How likely are you to recommend applying based on our benefits package?
  7. How satisfied are you with our physical health benefits (i.e. health care, sick leave, etc)?
  8. How satisfied are you with our social impact benefits (i.e. corporate matching, volunteering, etc)?
  9. How satisfied are you with our mental health benefits (i.e. vacation time, EAP, etc)?
  10. How satisfied are you with our financial health benefits? (i.e. retirement, student loan assistance, etc)
  11. How satisfied are you with our fringe benefits and perks? (i.e. fitness subsidies, stipends, etc)
  12. If you could choose one benefit not currently offered, what would it be?
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