Workplace giving: How to get employees motivated

October 27, 2017Amanda Woodard and Jessica Mudditt (HRM Online)

Giving programs have a positive impact on workplace culture and help employees become more engaged.

That warm fuzzy glow we get when we give to others less fortunate provides a source of happiness that’s been found to be more lasting and satisfying than when we spend money on ourselves.

From an HR perspective, that’s great news for employers with a workplace giving program in place. As well as providing employees with an opportunity to feel good about themselves and their communities by making a tangible difference to its improvement,  it is also strengthens the relationship between employees and their organisations.

“An effective program can make a huge contribution to culture, particularly in terms of creating engagement and a sense of purpose – which are notoriously tricky areas for many employers,” says  Jenny Geddes, CEO of the Australian Charities Fund.

2015 research from the not-for-profit online platform Good2Give shows that 80 per cent of respondents agreed that having a workplace giving program makes their company a better place to work. What was also interesting was that staff who participated in a giving programs tended to be more loyal to the company, with 79 per cent having been with their company for more than three years, and 56 per cent having been there for more than seven.

Workplace giving enables employees to make charitable donations direct from their pay, and in some cases is matched by company donations. This is also the most effective way to give because donations are tax-free and negates the need for charities to undertake costly fund-raising activities.

However, while three million working Australians have access to a workplace giving program, only 162,000 participate, according to data from the Australian Taxation Office Workplace Giving for the 2016 financial year.

It’s not that Australians aren’t strong supporters of charity: in 2016, 81 per cent of adults made a donation, according to Giving Australia 2016. Geddes says the reason for low take-up of workplace giving programs is often due to limited knowledge about which fundraising channels are most effective.

There are several initiatives out there that are trying to make it easier for individuals and business to donate.

The One Million Donors by 2020 campaign was launched in 2014 by the Australian Charities Fund (ACF) to drive up participation rates. Geddes, who heads up the campaign, says that if the target is achieved, workplace giving would be capable of providing an extra $250 million to charities annually. And she believes that employers have a powerful role to play in helping to achieve the ambitious target. “Many organisations have made the great first step of putting a program in place, but they have a limited understanding of how to make it excel,” she says.

GoodCompany is another organisation that operates to bring corporates together with not-for-profits. To date they have engaged over 50,000 people in delivering nearly $8 million to charity as well as over 177,000 in volunteer hours.

Recognised earlier this year by the Westpac Businesses of Tomorrow program, David Lindberg, judge and chief executive, at Westpac Business Bank, remarked: “As Australia’s first unified workplace giving and volunteering rewards platform, GoodCompany has made a significant impact on the Australian not for profit sector. Through making it easy and empowering staff to give their time, talent and donations to causes in need, GoodCompany is helping to make a positive impact to the lives of many Australians.”

How can HR incentivise employees to give to charity? Probono Australia has some excellent tips  which HRM shares here.
– Provide company matching of employee donations.
– Offer special one-off incentives such as bonus donations to charities.
– Set group and/or company-wide goals to achieve.
– Foster fun competition between staff.
– Offer small gifts to encourage employees to give.

Create emotional connections
– Make sure communications have an emotive hook.
– Use storytelling to engage.
– Communicate impact at an individual level.
– Personalise communications using messages from senior leaders and peers.
– Pair images and captions

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