Bain & Co: dares to be different, strives for 80% participation with opt-out

In mid-2014, management consultancy Bain & Company implemented a Workplace Giving (WPG) opt-out scheme for all new joiners.  While WPG was well entrenched at the firm and program participation sat at a healthy 50% – well above the national average of 5% – the firm decided it could do even better.

An opt-out scheme was introduced for all new starters as well as anyone in receipt of a new contract, meaning team members were included in the giving program unless they ticked a box to say they preferred not to be involved. The default donation is currently $30 each month.

This system has worked well at Bain where the nature of the business involves several annual intakes of new recruits and a workforce with a strong propensity to transfer between Bain offices.  Because automatically opting-in new staff can only apply to new starters, it has worked particularly well in Bain which has a fluid workforce.

“A core part of our culture is in giving back and our program taps into that collective spirit.  By automatically including new staff in Workplace Giving, it means they can feel part of our culture from day one,” says Senior Manager, Human Resources, Anna Ferguson.

“A very small portion of our new starters choose to withdraw from the program, particularly once they understand how efficient and easy Workplace Giving is. However, we absolutely respect those who prefer not to participate – we have a very community-minded workforce who make enormous contributions in lots of different ways.  Also, Workplace Giving is very private so no one has oversight of who is or isn’t in the program” she adds.

In late 2015, the company undertook another evolution of its WPG program and introduced the online platform Good2Give, enabling staff to donate to their choice of hundreds of charities.  In order to maintain the opt-out approach for new starters, it was decided that by default their donations would flow to thirteen key charity partners. It is clearly communicated to staff that they have the ability to change the charity recipient, as well as amount, of their donations at any time.

These refinements to the Workplace Giving program have been supported by increased communication via office meetings, guest presenters from charity partners and regular newsletters. An annual highlight is ‘Dare Month’ where employees dare each other to do things like wear a backpack to every meeting or give up coffee for a month. Staff donate money for the dares which go to one or two selected charities.

“During Dare Month we encourage everyone to use the online platform and it gives people a level of comfort around how to participate and access the charities,” says Ferguson, adding the company’s Workplace Giving participation rate quickly moved from 51% to 62% over the course of 2017.

“If staff are not already set up, it also encourages them to put in their monthly recurring donation,” she says. “During one of our higher Dare Months we raised in the vicinity of $20,000.  It’s one of our  most successful ways of getting staff excited about giving back and it gives us the reason to help them understand how easy and effective it is to join our Workplace Giving program,” adds Ferguson, who says the company has raised more than $1 million since introducing Workplace Giving about 10 years ago.

Bain is currently sitting at 57% participation and the focus is now on getting participation up to 80%, a figure Ferguson believes is easily achievable.

Learn More

Bain & Company won a Silver Award for Best Launch or Refresh (Small Employer) at the 2017 Workplace Giving Excellence Awards. Click here to read more about their program.