Since hosting our Corporate Culture and Community Impact event this summer, we’ve spoken to many companies that intend to formalize or expand on their corporate giving programs next year. Many are evaluating where to start, ways to gain traction, or how to justify investment. With the holiday season fast approaching and next year’s planning in full gear, here are four steps to jumpstart a giving program and lay the groundwork for a formal program in 2017.

Step 1: Understand Employee Interest and Existing Activities

Whether or not you have a formal CSR program, employees are giving on their own time or in groups. 75% of people give to charity, and with the millennial generation in the workforce that jumps to 84%*. Alex from Engineering may volunteer twice a month to work on a nonprofit website and Jen in Sales might bring her team to the Food Bank. These people are a great place to easily get an understanding of employee interest and discover some of the foundation on which to build your program.

A few steps to kickstart the process:

  1. Set up meetings with existing givers to begin forming a core advocate group.
  2. Send a survey to understand employee passions and interests.
  3. Hold focus groups across departments to dig a bit deeper and further ideate.

Your employee’s strategic priorities should start to emerge, which leads us to step 2.

Step 2: Gain Leadership Support with an Executive Sponsor

One of the most crucial factors to success in launching a lasting giving program is finding the right executive sponsor. Your executives are probably already thinking about ways to leverage the company’s business model for good. In fact, 64% of CEOs surveyed by PWC say that “corporate social responsibility (CSR) is core to their business” and will define successful organizations even more in the future.*

Some tips on finding that sponsor:

  1. Research your executives on Linkedin, there’s a good chance one might be on a nonprofit board.
  2. Schedule a meeting or just pull one aside to explore who your program advocates might be.
  3. Find something they are passionate about and set up an easy way for them to engage.

An executive sponsor will help you get buy-in from other leadership, formalize programming, and might just turn out to be your most avid participants.

Step 3: Piggyback on Existing Events and Pilot

At ThinkThank we try to utilize every opportunity to give. Have a potluck, happy hour, or customer event coming up? Bring in a potential nonprofit partner and expose your coworkers to giving. Every company, like every person, has their own preferences so don’t be restrained by the standard volunteering experiences.

A few ways to integrate giving:

  1. Host a fundraiser campaign in conjunction with your Holiday party.
  2. Pilot a volunteering experience before a team happy hour.
  3. Host a nonprofit event at your office for a lunch and learn to educate your team.

The feedback and exposure from this pilot helps form a strategy and build the justification for our next phase.

Step 4: Think Big and Formalize your Strategy

Having piloted a few experiences and explored partnerships, your company is probably ready for a more impactful engagement for employees and the world. Take advantage of the momentum and formalize the program for 2017 with the proof to gain leadership support.

Steps to realize your giving strategy and vision are:

  1. Create a presentation of learnings, the needed resources, and return on investment.
  2. Build a monitoring and evaluation strategy to steer and sustain these investments.
  3. Deliver a project plan that shows a clear and realistic path to success.

Setting up these giving programs doesn’t have to be difficult, in fact it should be fun. For tools, templates and advice on each of these steps, ThinkThank is here to help. Contact us and let’s make sure that we make a greater impact in 2017, together.


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