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How to Adapt to the Changing Landscape of Workplace Giving

By Sarah Anderson August 3, 2021

The events of 2020 changed how we view and do a lot of things — including workplace giving. For CSR and HR professionals trying to navigate giving and volunteer activities within their companies, everything looks different today than it did before.

In a recent webinar, How to Adapt to the Changing Landscape of Workplace Giving, Philanthropy Cloud team members discussed their observations of how their customers managed the unique challenges that 2020 brought, and provide guidance on how other corporate social responsibility (CSR) and HR professionals can follow suit.

While there were several catalysts for change throughout 2020, from wildfires to the U.S. presidential election, we focused specifically on the pandemic and the social justice crisis that resulted from the murder of George Floyd. Below, we explain how Philanthropy Cloud customers changed their approach to address the increasing need following these two crises. Ultimately, we believe these six changes are here to stay.

Woman volunteering virtually
In addition to providing virtual volunteering opportunities, which is an option in Philanthropy Cloud, companies also offered remote volunteering and relaxed the requirement that volunteering needed to be done with an official 501 (c)(3) organization.

1. Continuous Campaigns

Because the needs were greater than usual and setting up a campaign in Philanthropy Cloud takes less than a day, companies that historically ran only one campaign a year ran several in 2020. One customer ran eight campaigns in 2020. Companies realized they could respond to the needs in their communities immediately, delivering much-needed food, assistance, and money to their neighbors.

2. Redefined Volunteering

What was once a typically in-person event done to strengthen team bonds is now done virtually, and often in unique ways. In addition to providing virtual volunteering opportunities, which is an option in Philanthropy Cloud, companies also offered remote volunteering and relaxed the requirement that volunteering needed to be done with an official 501 (c)(3) organization.

For instance, some companies expanded volunteering activities to include grocery shopping for an elderly neighbor, helping local businesses, and watching an educational webinar to broaden understanding and empathy for racial minorities. None of these would have counted toward an employee’s volunteer hours before this shift in 2020.

3. Total Digital Engagement

Companies that had partnered with United Way, using paper pledges and cash donations, were suddenly forced to run giving campaigns online. They reimagined their in-person campaign events to be held virtually and utilized Philanthropy Cloud’s real-time reporting to spur enthusiasm among employees to reach their goals.

4. Scaled Efforts

Many companies were used to having local branches run their own campaigns in each office. Once everyone was working remotely, they centralized their efforts, running company-wide campaigns out of headquarters, which helped to scale campaigns.

Companies also delivered the same corporate messaging to all employees, bringing disparate offices together — in some cases, for the first time. Once employees return to the office, we expect company-wide campaigns to continue and local campaigns to return. Using the Champion role in Philanthropy Cloud, trusted employees can create content on the platform. This is a popular capability for local offices to have more autonomy in their content, as well as with employee resource groups, or ERGs.

5. Prominence of ERGs for Employee-Led Guidance

In response to last year’s impactful social justice movement, companies reevaluated their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts in the workplace and the community. To do so, they turned to their ERGs for employee-driven campaigns, education, and volunteering and advocacy opportunities. Companies participated in protests, post-unrest cleanups, and voter registration assistance.

6. Increased Focus on Mental Health

In addition to wellness days and regular check-ins, companies acknowledged that some employees were not in a place to give back mentally. Because of this, some companies took a break from running campaigns and let their employees lead the charge. They also acknowledged that giving and volunteering can actually help mental health, so they made sure there were plenty of opportunities in Philanthropy Cloud — though they didn’t promote those opportunities as aggressively as they might have otherwise.

Generally speaking, companies that were already up and running with Philanthropy Cloud fared much better in serving their communities than they would have if they didn’t have the platform.

Diverse group of employees around a table
DEI continues to be top of mind, but instead of just talking about diversity, it’s important to do something to promote equity and inclusion in the workplace.

How to Adapt to the Changing Landscape

What hasn’t changed is that employees still want to work for companies that lead with purpose while also prioritizing their personal well-being. We’ve found that well-being is at the intersection of purpose, philanthropy, community, and inclusion. In the webinar, Cécile Poyet identified five steps to ensure your company is leading with purpose.

1. Assess Your Business Superpowers

The first step in making a lasting change is determining which cause or causes your organization should address. Start by asking, “What social, human, or environmental challenge is my company uniquely positioned to answer?”

Consider factors including…

  • Location: Where are you located? Is something specific in your area directly affecting your community or employees? For example, Minneapolis-based businesses in 2020 reached out to communities following civil unrest to help clean up, raise funds for damaged storefronts, and distribute first-aid supplies and food.
  • Employee base: Look at your employees. What challenges do they face? You may be well-positioned to address such challenges with the help of ERGs.
  • Industry: In what industry is your business? Are there social, human, or environmental challenges that your industry is affecting? How can you respond?

Don’t try to solve all the world’s problems at once, especially if you’re not properly equipped. Instead, focus your efforts on areas where you think you can create real change and provide the most support to communities and your employees.

2. Do More for Your Employees

Without happy, healthy employees, you’re likely to experience high turnover, low productivity, and poor employee morale. By enacting initiatives designed to promote employee health and wellness and giving employees a space to discuss important issues, such as employee resource groups, you’re demonstrating to employees that you care about them.

3. Create Diverse and Inclusive Cultures and Teams

DEI continues to be top of mind, but instead of just talking about diversity, it’s important to do something to promote equity and inclusion in the workplace. Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s essential to your organization’s success. Consider creating employee resource groups at your organization to give employees a space where they can discuss and address issues that are important to them.

4. Roll Out Giving and Volunteering Programs

Social well-being is a tenet of well-being, meaning an employee cannot achieve total well-being without fulfilling this need. One of the most common ways to do so is through volunteering, which gives employees purpose and a sense of pride. Moreover, millennials and Gen Z-ers look for philanthropic values when searching for jobs and employers. Companies that have a dedicated giving and volunteering program are more likely to attract and retain top talent.

5. Measure Progress, and Keep Yourself Accountable

It’s one thing to set goals and create campaigns, but it’s another to ensure they’re successful. Create goals for any initiatives you roll out and metrics for tracking their progress and success.

Make the Technology Do the Work and Adapt to Change

Making progressive and lasting change doesn’t happen overnight, and it can become overwhelming. That’s where’s Philanthropy Cloud can help. With specialist support, best practices, partnership, and subject matter expert access, Philanthropy Cloud can help you manage your workplace giving initiatives for 2021 and beyond.

Learn more about how to adapt to the changing landscape of workplace giving, how it affects your business, and how you can respond.

About the Author

Sarah Anderson, director of product marketing for Philanthropy Cloud

Sarah Anderson
Director of Product Marketing, Philanthropy Cloud

Sarah Anderson is a director of product marketing for Philanthropy Cloud. After spending 12 years as an editor for consumer-facing technology magazines, she turned her attention to marketing SaaS-based B2B enterprise solutions.