Six Ways to Turn Your Corporate Philanthropy Efforts into a Long-Term Project

A single day of volunteer service can be exciting, moving, impactful, and inspiring for a company's employees. But after a year or two of the ‘one and done’ volunteer events, many corporate employees hunger for more. To develop an enduring philanthropic relationship, multiple points of connection are needed. 

Here are six ways to move your corporate philanthropy into a long-term function, and create more meaningful bonds between employees and the non-profits the company supports. 

1.     Find the right partner. Your employees want to help solve societal problems, but they may differ on how to prioritize which to work on. Survey your employees to find out what impact they most want to make on the community, or otherwise make sure they understand why the company chooses to support its select non-profits. If there’s a broad spectrum of interests, find a non-profit that serves many different needs. Or focus on improving a certain community, rather than a specific issue area. Employee input into the partnership begets ownership, which ultimately begets connection.

2.     Variety is the spice of life. Offer your employees an a la carte menu of ways to engage with your community partners. Offering multiple ways to participate will increase the likelihood everyone in the office will find something that suits their interest, availability, and style.

3.     Calendar it in. Connecting with a non-profit and its mission takes deliberate planning. Brainstorm at the beginning of your partnership, and then put together a calendar of events that can be shared with your employees. You may even want to target different departments of the company based on when their workload is less hectic.

4.      Just ask. Not only is it harder to turn someone down when you ask them in person, it’s also flattering to be personally requested to attend an event. Email is perfect for getting people information about a volunteer or fundraising opportunity, but it’s also easy to ignore. Assemble a team of enthusiastic staff members who will take the time to go from desk to desk, or make a few phone calls, to get people engaged.

5.     Communicate. If your employees help with a volunteer event or fundraiser, but never hear the impact of their work, they will lose interest. Companies and employees need to talk to each other. Find out what they liked (and didn’t like) about their experience so you can continue to fine-tune your relationship with your nonprofit partner. Then share data and stories about the event so people know their efforts matter.

6.     Motivate yourselves and one another. People respond well to having more than one reason to commit to spending our time in a certain way. Provide an incentive, add music or costumes, or make it a competition.

-Stacey Rago, Executive Director, Chicago Charity Challenge


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