Cubical Land

What is an employee giving campaign?

Employee giving campaigns provide a new way to tap into company support. If a company does not have money to give directly to a cause through a foundation or sponsorship, you might have another option.  Companies have employees, and employees are potential donors. The HR staff at the company might see team building potential in hosting a fundraiser for your ministry and get very excited about it. With a blessing from management, you can share your mission with the employees and invite them to give.

Make it easy!

The key to employee giving drives is to make it fun for the employees and easy for the management.

The first part of being fun is being brief. Your employee giving drive should last no more than a week or two. Any longer, and you risks getting stale. People have short attention spans nowadays. If you're still asking for more money two months after the campaign starts, they will start to get annoyed.

Secondly, these kinds of campaigns thrive on realistic goals. A goal gives employees something to shoot for and something to celebrate once the drive is done. One way to set your goal is to take the total number of employees and multiply it by a target donation. So a company with 20 employees might set a goal based on an average gift of $20 for a total goal of $400. A way to dramatically increase the goal is to push monthly recurring donations. 20 employees giving $20 per month have a goal of $4,800, which is a lot more exciting while still being reasonable.

Thirdly, you need to prepare good campaign materials. People need a reason to give, and that reason is the good that you plan to do with their donations. Having good materials prepared makes it easy on the management of the company, because they don't have to worry about trying to produce fliers and brochures on your behalf. Let's be honest... they are busy people, and if you leave the materials up to them it won't get done. It's not their job, it's YOUR job. Materials can include things like fliers that announce the campaign, brochures that explain the mission of your organization, stickers or pins for people that give, and even branded prizes or merchandise that can be sold or given away. If your materials look great, the people in charge will feel more comfortable about giving your organization time with their employees.

Make it fun!

Finally, you need to make it fun. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of fundraising gimmicks. They can distract from your main message, which is the good that you're going to accomplish with the gifts. With an employee giving drive, you should still lead with your mission, but you need some gimmicks. Seriously. Gimmicks work, and they add to the fun of it. Here are some ideas to spice up your employee giving days:

  • Jeans day or casual day - employees who make a certain donation can dress in jeans or casually on the last day of the drive.
  • Wacky hat day - Employees who make a donation can wear a wacky hat around the office if they make a donation. You can make it a contest and award a prize to the wackiest hat to make it fun.
  • Ugly sweater day - Same as above for cold climates. Especially popular during the Christmas season.
  • Pot luck or pot snack - Have a day when people bring in food for a meal or for snacks. Donors get to eat.
  • Team competitions - Pit different sections of the company against others for who can get the most donations. This works especially well in big manufacturing settings where you are taking advantage of team rivalries that already exist.
  • Food drive - Have the employees bring food as well as funds.
  • Casino day - Set up a casino where employees can play for prizes or just for fun. Donors get to play. Remember, local, state, and federal law regulates all real gambling.

Follow the leader

If you're wondering about how well employee giving drives work, remember that employee giving is the primary fundraising strategy for United Way organizations around the country. They are so good at these kinds of drives and so well established in the community that you might run into more than a few companies who will tell you, "We do all of our giving through the United Way."

United Way succeeds because they make it easy for the companies to get involved. They have partner agencies that are pre-approved through an application process, so their "mission message" can cover a wide range of different interests including human services, medical, and education. United Way provides all of the materials necessary for the campaign. They organize agency fairs so employees can interact with the non-profits that their gifts will support. To top it all off, they collect donations through automatic payroll deductions, the forerunner to the modern online recurring donations.

If you have a strong United Way in your area, they might have a lot of the businesses tied up with their campaign. If this is the case, you might consider applying to be a United Way agency. You'll have to weigh the costs and benefits of being a United Way agency. In some areas, the United Way requires an annual blackout period during their annual campaign. This annual campaign often happens during the key fundraising season at the end of the year because the United Way understands that it is when most people give.

If you're not interested in becoming a United Way agency, you still might find companies that are willing to support your cause. You just need to reach out to their HR managers and build new relationships. Find out who at the company can say yes, and get to know them. It might take some time to open the door, but it can be worth it. If a company tells you flat out that they aren't interested in doing this kind of drive, you might decide that you need to move on. Spend your time finding a more willing collaborator.

A word of caution!

If you are an explicitly religious organization, you might find it difficult to find companies that will partner with you for an employee giving drive. Many companies have established a policy of only supporting non-religious organizations. That's their prerogative, and you're unlikely to be able to do anything to change it. Do your research before you start asking and save yourself a lot of wasted time. 

Looking for more articles on corporate giving? Try these:

Check out The Fundraiser's Playbook for a full list of fundraising articles.

Would you like to learn more about raising money for Church and Ministry? Check out Letters From The Almoner, now available on Amazon.com.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com, via Creative Commons License, no rights reserved.