Giving It Away: Why Fostering Charity in a For-Profit Company is Good for Business
Affect Shares Best Practices for Implementing Corporate Charitable Giving Initiatives
 

NEW YORK, February 23, 2015— When working for a for-profit business, employees may not always feel that their job is serving the greater good. Even employees in profit-driven companies seek opportunities to feed their soul at work and corporate philanthropy is one way to help satisfy that need and engender a more productive and loyal workforce. According to the most recent Millennial Impact Report, the number three most important consideration for millennials in deciding to apply for a job was the company’s involvement with causes, right after what the company specifically does, sells or produces and the company’s culture (Source: Millennial Impact Report 2014). Charitable giving doesn’t only benefit employee happiness but it can also foster customer loyalty and influence purchasing decisions. In a study published in the Harvard Business Review, researchers found that if companies choose causes that their customers care about, it can help drive sales (Source: Making Charity Pay, Harvard Business Review 2014).

Affect, a public relations and social media firm specializing in technology, healthcare and professional services, offers best practices for developing a charitable giving program from its own experience and in working with corporate clients for more than a decade:

1) Give More Than Money
Many organizations start a philanthropic program by first trying to understand how much money they can dedicate to the cause. However, effective programs are about more than just throwing dollars towards a donation. Some companies assume that corporate philanthropy programs may be too expensive to implement. Sandra Fathi, president and founder of Affect, suggests, “Organizations need to look at money, time and resources when it comes to giving. Not all charitable endeavors require hard dollars to participate. Companies can provide time-off for employees to volunteer outside of work, provide opportunities to apply their skills to a non-profit cause at work or lend services, products or other resources – including use of an office or facility.”

2) Choose Your Charity Wisely, Or Don’t Choose at All
The most common mistake in initiating a program of giving is only following the CEO’s passion. If you want employees, and customers, to support your program and reap the positive benefits of a successful charitable giving initiative, you must understand what they are passionate about.

Companies often try to match the charities they contribute to with ones that align with its business goals and industry. While this approach often makes sense from a business perspective, it may not inspire employees or customers to action.

Allowing employees to take an active part in choosing which foundations their company contributes creates a motivating tie to the program. “One of my favorite philanthropy initiatives was for our 10 year anniversary where we pledged to donate $1,000 to ten different charities, ” said Fathi. “Each employee was able to nominate two charities that were close to their heart and shared their personal story or connection to the charity for the team to vote on. We wound up in tears in the conference room listening to these touching, inspiring and sometimes heart-breaking stories and we couldn’t bear not to donate to each and every one. We came up with additional funds to donate to every non-profit nominated and it was such a wonderful bonding experience for the team.”

3) Create Opportunities for Employees and Customers
Beyond writing the check, companies can create opportunities for employees and customers to get involved in charitable endeavors in ways that create long-lasting, meaningful experiences. A group volunteering opportunity can do good while creating team bonding and foster customer loyalty. Research documents the competitive advantages of philanthropy for many corporations citing examples like Tom’s Shoes, where customers are willing to pay a premium price due to the knowledge that they are helping donate one pair of shoes with each purchase (Source: The Competitive Advantage of Corporate Philanthropy and Making Charity Pay, Harvard Business Review 2002 and 2014).

Creating different types of opportunities is important since not all programs will appeal to all employees. For example, Affect offers several charitable-based benefits for its employees as part of the “Affective Giving Program.” This includes Charity Days, where Affect offers employees two days off per calendar year to volunteer at a nonprofit of their choice. Affect also offers a Matching Donation Program that enables employees to make monetary contributions to a non-profit and have Affect match these donations up to a certain value. Additionally, the staff also takes part in team building activities like the One Book at a Time program (which provides children with books and an employee pen pal), conducting a coat drive for New York Cares, and planning and hosting an annual birthday party for the children of a homeless shelter.

“Corporate social responsibility is more than just something for businesses to cross off their list. It attracts, strengthens and empowers company stakeholders,” said Fathi. “Everyone tells you to ‘do what you love and you will never work a day in your life,’ but sometimes in the corporate environment, that soul-fulfilling aspect can get lost, so charity work motivates employees and make them feel good about what they’re doing with their lives.”

Good corporate citizens attract and retain customers and employees. Corporate social responsibility fosters business relationships by bringing a human factor to work and in turn, makes employees and customers happy to work for or with an ethical and philanthropic company.

 

About Affect
Affect is a public relations and social media firm located in New York. Established in 2002, the company specializes in technology, healthcare and professional services. Affect employs a results-driven approach to communications, crafting one-of-a-kind programs to help clients achieve their business goals. As year-round strategic counsel, or a single project resource, Affect leverages its creative talent, unique experience and forward thinking insights to achieve the precise results that its clients seek. For more information, web: www.affect.com; blog: www.techaffect.com; Twitter: @teamaffect.