Category: Featured

Complete Guide to Donor-Advised Funds

Donor-advised funds (DAFs) are a type of charitable giving vehicle that allow individuals, families, and organizations to make a charitable contribution, receive an immediate tax deduction, and then recommend grants to charitable organizations over time. 

DAFs have grown in popularity in recent years as a way for donors to simplify their charitable giving and make a greater impact.

While DAFs were previously only available to the wealthy, Groundswell makes the benefits of a donor-advised fund accessible to everyone.

In this article, we provide a complete guide to donor-advised funds, including how they work, their benefits and drawbacks, and how to set one up.

How Do Donor-Advised Funds Work?

When a donor makes a contribution to a DAF, the funds are invested and managed by a sponsoring organization.

The donor receives an immediate tax deduction for the contribution, and can then recommend grants to charitable organizations at any time. The sponsoring organization is responsible for managing the DAF and distributing the grants as directed by the donor.

One of the main benefits of DAFs is that they allow donors to make a charitable contribution and receive an immediate tax deduction, even if they are not ready to decide which charities to support.

This can be especially useful for donors who want to make a charitable gift but are not sure which organizations to support, or for donors who want to spread their charitable giving out over time.

Learn the difference between a private foundation and a donor-advised fund

Benefits of Donor-Advised Funds

There are several benefits to using a DAF for charitable giving, including:

Simplicity: DAFs are a simple way to make charitable contributions, as donors can make a single contribution to the DAF and then recommend grants to multiple charities over time.

Immediate Tax Deduction: Donors can receive an immediate tax deduction for their contribution to a DAF, even if they are not ready to recommend grants to charitable organizations.

Professional Management: DAFs are managed by a sponsoring organization, which means that donors do not have to worry about managing the investment of the funds or distributing the grants.

Flexibility: Donors can recommend grants to any IRS-qualified charitable organization, and can change the organizations they support at any time.

Anonymity: Donors can remain anonymous when making a contribution to a DAF or recommending a grant, if they choose.

How to set up a donor-advised fund

Setting up a donor-advised fund (DAF) is a simple process that can typically be done online in a few easy steps:

Choose a sponsoring organization: There are many different organizations that sponsor DAFs, including community foundations, financial institutions, and charitable organizations. It is important to choose a reputable organization that aligns with the donor’s charitable goals.

Groundswell is a flexible choice for small to enterprise-sized businesses looking to provide a charitable giving platform for its employees.

Learn to open a DAF account with Groundswell.

Make a contribution: The donor can make a contribution to the DAF using cash, securities, or other assets. The donor will receive an immediate tax deduction for the contribution.

Recommend grants: The donor can recommend grants to charitable organizations at any time, either online or by contacting the sponsoring organization.

Monitor the DAF: The donor can monitor the activity of their DAF and recommend additional grants as desired.

Donor-Advised Fund Tax Deduction Information

One of the main benefits of donor-advised funds (DAFs) is that they allow donors to receive an immediate tax deduction for their charitable contributions. The tax deduction for DAFs is generally the same as it would be for a charitable contribution made directly to a charitable organization.

To be eligible for a tax deduction, the donor must itemize their deductions on their tax return and the contribution must be made to a qualified charitable organization. Contributions to a DAF are tax-deductible in the year that they are made, even if the donor does not recommend any grants from the DAF until a later year.

It is important for donors to keep in mind that there are limits on the amount of charitable contributions that can be deducted each year. 

Limits for charitable contributions that can be deducted for tax year 2022

The limits on the amount of charitable contributions that can be deducted for tax year 2022 depend on the type of organization to which the donation is made and the taxpayer’s filing status.

For tax year 2022, the limits are:

For donations made to public charities and certain private foundations, the limit is generally 60% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI).

For donations of appreciated capital gain property made to public charities and certain private foundations, the limit is generally 30% of AGI.

For donations made to certain private foundations and veterans organizations, the limit is generally 30% of AGI.

For donations of appreciated capital gain property made to certain private foundations, the limit is generally 20% of AGI.

It’s always recommended to check with a tax professional or the IRS to confirm the limits that apply to your specific situation.

It is also important for donors to retain documentation of their contributions to a DAF, as they may be required to provide proof of their charitable contributions in the event of an audit.

A software like Groundswell keeps track of all the important information you need come tax time.

Donor-Advised Funds Distribution Rules

The distribution rules for donor-advised funds vary depending on the specific terms of the fund and the sponsoring organization. In general, however, the following rules apply:

  • Donors must make an irrevocable contribution to the fund in order to participate. This means that the donor cannot change their mind and take the money back after making the contribution.
  • Donors can recommend how their contributions are invested and how the earnings are distributed to charitable organizations, but the sponsoring organization ultimately has the discretion to approve or deny the recommendations.
  • Donors cannot receive any personal benefit from the fund, such as the use of donated assets for personal purposes or the receipt of goods or services in exchange for their contribution.
  • Distributions from donor-advised funds must be used for charitable purposes. This means that the funds must be used to benefit a charitable organization or to support a charitable program.
  • Donors must follow all applicable federal and state laws, including laws related to self-dealing and excess benefit transactions.
  • Sponsoring organizations may have additional rules and requirements for donor-advised funds, such as minimum contribution amounts or distribution frequencies. It is important for donors to understand and comply with these rules in order to maintain the tax-advantaged status of their contributions.

How Groundswell Uses the DAF to enable corporate giving programs.

Groundswell is a cooperation giving platform revolutionizing access to DAFs.

Groundswell accounts are powered by donor-advised funds. Groundswell’s DAF infrastructure gives companies and its employees a better, smoother experience when compared with traditional workplace giving programs.

With Groundswell, companies can deposit gifts directly into their employees’ accounts.

Groundswell’s infrastructure also enables privacy and security for employees and employers. Since charitable giving can be deeply personal, adding a level of privacy aids in fostering a corporate culture of generosity and giving.

Learn more about setting up a corporate giving program and DAF with Groundswell.

7 Trending Corporate Social Responsibility Programs People Leaders Should Know in 2023

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a business framework that promises a sustainable outcome for the society it operates in. Businesses that align with CSR best practices operate in an economically, socially, and environmentally conscious way. 

Generally, those practices can include reducing carbon emissions, supporting diversity and inclusion, and engaging in fair labor practices, as well as contributing to local communities and charitable organizations who are making a difference in the world.

The goal of any business that aligns with CSR best practices is to balance the interests of the company with those of the society and environment as a whole.

In recent years, there has been a large growth in the popularity of the number of companies that operate in a socially responsible manner. From this growing trend emerged a handful of programs that resonated especially well with both leaders and employees.

Here are 7 trending corporate social responsibility programs for 2023 that modern companies should consider:

1. Workplace giving and corporate matching programs

Enabling a workplace giving program is the easiest, most time-effective way to launch a campaign that aligns with corporate social responsibility best practices.

A good workplace giving program decentralizes corporate philanthropy and empowers employees to support the causes that mean the most to them, leading to a much more diverse and equitable workplace.

Building a workplace culture around giving often starts with a workplace giving program, making this a popular option for corporations who want to inject strong values into their company workforce.

Learn more about a workplace giving program

2. Support Causes through Local Partnership

Companies can partner with a nonprofit aligned with broader CSR goals as a way of making a social impact in their local community. As companies grow, their impact on local nonprofits gets larger.

Some companies, like Patagonia, start their own nonprofit to tackle the issues that directly affect their business.

Partnering with local causes is a great way to outsource the duties that come with social responsibility. One downside with partnering with local organizations is the limitations on the causes it supports and the diversity that comes with not only acknowledging but also supporting employee interests.

3. Food Drives and Donation Campaigns

Clothing drives, food drives, and other donation campaigns are amazing opportunities for employees to make an impact in someone’s life directly by giving those less fortunate the things they need to survive.

Food drives are perfect campaigns during the seasons people are in most need of aid, such as during winter.

While the popularity of these campaigns often goes up during holiday seasons, food drives and donation campaigns can be held at any time throughout the year.

4. Recycling

Just like with Apple Inc.’s recycling campaign that we mentioned earlier, companies that find a way to recycle and repurpose used materials often serve the secondary purpose of aligning themselves with a great corporate social responsibility program.

Recycling campaigns and programs not only help the environment, it can help a business’s bottom line, too.

5. Environmental

Programs that focus on preserving earth’s natural resources are excellent options for building a CSR campaign around. That’s because environmental issues affect everyone.

Companies making an effort to defend nature are making earth a better place for future generations to do business.

6. Social Impact

Causes that include fighting homelessness, offering aid to the less fortunate, or making an impact in the local community all fall under “social impact.”

These initiatives focus on helping people in one way or another, whether that’s by providing support through longer-term programs around education, job readiness, mentorship, etc, for people in need of immediate aid or assistance, through food banks, shelteres, and medical clinics.

7. Volunteer Programs

Volunteer programs are a great way to improve employee morale while providing a public service. 

Volunteer programs have historically seen much more participation rates when compared to other CSR programs.

The WSJ reports “targeted do-good efforts such as volunteering attracts nearly triple the participation rate compared to activities without such incentives.”

Read why corporate donating is often the better choice instead of volunteering.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a way to become more socially responsible as a company, consider one of these seven trending corporate social responsibility programs options.

Groundswell is an affordable workplace giving program built for the modern business. We give organizations the infrastructure and tools to make it easy to empower employees to support the causes they care about during moments that matter most.

Subscribe to our newsletter and reach out to our team to learn more about Groundswell.io.

6 Strategies on How to Engage Remote Employees

A mere 6% of Americans worked mostly from home in 2019. By 2021, that number had tripled according to the American Community Survey. Depending on who’s talking, that’s good news, right?

On the one hand, employees reported higher productivity, increased morale, and better communication. 

But then there is the reality. Once the honeymoon period is over, how do you engage remote employees to keep them happily employed in your company? Beyond that, how can your company continue to reap the benefits that accrue from a productive remote workforce?

Pew Research reported in 2022 that when the pandemic was over 60% of workers in jobs that can be done remotely say that they would prefer to work from home all or most of the time. On the plus side, they are enjoying a greater work-life balance and feel more capable of getting the job done. Then there’s the 40% who don’t want to work from home, and even for those who do, there are downsides.

The Inherent Risk in the Remote Model

Harvard Business Review reports that while businesses have seized the opportunity to broaden their talent pool and increase their flexibility, there are social risks that companies can’t afford to ignore. 

Among them are increased levels of loneliness, and isolation. Burnout is no small issue, either. Yes, work-from-home employees have greater control over when they work. However, this can be a double-edged sword with today’s always-on technologies. 

In fact, remote employees find themselves working longer and harder without the rewards that come from office camaraderie and over-the-cubicle chats with co-workers. They don’t even have a decompression time afforded by a commute.

When workers feel overworked, this can lead to disengagement. It’s the last thing you want for any employee, but it’s even more detrimental for remote workers since, without that face-to-face contact, it can go undetected. There are fewer opportunities to pick up on the visual cues that employees offer when you ask “how’s it going?” Indeed, remote workers may not feel the same sense of loyalty as they would if they worked in the office. 

Yet, remote work isn’t going to go away. Today, the challenge is how to engage remote employees and keep them productive for the long haul.

Strategies on How to Engage Remote Employees

All employees, whether they are office-based, hybrid, or remote, can benefit from well-designed retention strategies. 

Check out our top 10 here. In addition, your remote workforce may need additional strategies to address issues that, although perhaps not unique to them, impact them more. 

Here are six strategies to ensure that your remote employees stick around.

1. Enforce Sustainable Work Habits

The highly touted increase in productivity was a hallmark of remote work during the pandemic. But this could actually be a warning sign that employees are on the fast track toward burnout. 

A Microsoft survey indicates that in the year following the start of Covid-19, meeting times have increased by 148%, emails by 40.6 billion, and the number of people working on collaborative documents by 66%. 

Sure, some of this frenetic activity has to do with remote work, but “doing stuff” does not always equal greater output. In fact, it could be a sign of inefficiency. At the very least, it’s what happens as workers try to do more to prove their worth by being always on and always available. It may take some creativity, but companies can and should respect and enforce breaks and sensible work habits. GitLab, for example, uses virtual coffee breaks which allow employees to chat together on a video call.  

2. Provide Opportunities to Network

When workers are remote, they may miss out on opportunities to network across the company. Those chance meetings and hallway encounters no longer happen. Consequently, networks are getting smaller and the move toward dismantling silos that we saw in the previous decade is all but disappearing.

Some employees will seek networking opportunities beyond the workplace by joining LinkedIn or alma mater groups, pursuing community and volunteer activities, or even spending time in co-working spaces. Still, it’s important for companies to provide remote teams with more opportunities within the organization to keep them engaged. The company can do this through virtual affinity groups, classes, cross-functional teams, and coordinated volunteer activities in the community. 

3. Make the Physical Office Space More Enticing

Most remote workers need to come into the office from time to time, particularly if they work a hybrid schedule. The office should be an inviting space with plenty of areas for collaboration.

It’s good to include comfortable rest areas and accommodate nursing moms, exercise, power naps, and more. Every office is different, of course, and not every company has expansive facilities, but a facilities planner can help optimize the space and make it a welcoming place.

4. Supercharge Your Onboarding Processes

A lackluster onboarding experience gets remote employees off to a shaky start. In addition to equipment and software, onboarding employees need support using the technology effectively, finding the right resourcing, accessing documents, and understanding the quirks of the culture. 

Don’t assume that just because you have a Gen Z employee, you can plug them into the platform and walk away. While they may fully understand the technology and be fully functional when it comes to performing the job, they may also need the human connection that is missing from a Zoom meeting. 

Find ways to facilitate the establishment of personal relationships in person.

5. Keep the Virtual Doors Wide Open

There are plenty of creative ways to collaborate and work together via technology. Every encounter shouldn’t necessarily be about work. Plan virtual coffee breaks, happy hours, games, birthday celebrations, or even non-work-related classes. 

It’s not just about peer-to-peer contact. Remote employees need to feel included by their managers. This is particularly important when their managers aren’t physically available. 

In-office employees can always talk to their manager even if it’s just a five-minute chat in the hallway. These chance encounters are important because they afford employees and managers an opportunity to connect and air concerns. Make an open-door policy a deliberate and demonstrated part of your communication strategy.

6. Get Interested in Your Employees

It takes very little time and energy to get to know more about other employees. What are their passions? What do they do in their time off? What do they value? What causes do they support? 

When employees know that you’re interested in who they are as people, they feel more engaged and committed to you and to the mission of the company. 

One way to open up a value-based dialogue with employees is by providing a corporate giving platform like Groundswell. 

Groundswell makes it easy for your company to embrace the causes that are important to them. The platform provides a tax-advantaged personal giving account to employees. Your company can contribute matching funds or even sponsor employee volunteers. It establishes charitable giving as an employee benefit, attracting and retaining values-driven talent with a perk that matters. 

To learn more, contact Groundswell.

The Workplace Giving Handbook: Everything You Need to Know

Workplace giving programs offer employees an important benefit. 

It gives employees a way to support the causes they care about and trust that their support is actually doing good in the world. 

It’s not news that people are skeptical of corporate charity — it’s why words like pink-washing and greenwashing have entered the public vocabulary. Workplace giving programs offer a way to combat that skepticism and give employees a reason to feel good about the places where they work. 

But what exactly is workplace giving, and how do you set up an employee-powered giving program at your company?

What is Workplace Giving?

By definition, workplace giving is any kind of organized program that collects employee donations for charitable causes through payroll deductions and/or one-time donations. The company then disburses those donations to nonprofits. 

Over the years, the term has evolved to include volunteer giving programs, and other forms of employee giving programs. Today, these giving programs take many forms, including payroll deductions, donation match programs, and volunteer giving programs. 

Matching Gift Programs

Donation match programs are among the most popular types of workplace giving programs, offered at nearly 65% of Fortune 500 companies, and accounting for $2 billion to $3 billion in donations annually. 

The concept is simple in theory: an employee donates to a qualified nonprofit, and the company then makes a matching donation to the same nonprofit. 

In practice, matching gift programs can be cumbersome and difficult to manage. In fact, for every dollar donated through matching gift programs, more than $2 goes unclaimed.

Volunteer Programs

In addition to typical volunteer programs — serving dinners at a local shelter or reading to school kids, for example — many companies create or participate in volunteer fundraising events, such as walk-a-thons or charity 5k runs. 

Employees participate as a team, and the money raised is donated to the specific non-profit named. These campaigns can be great for team building and bonding, not to mention providing high-profile PR opportunities for the company.

Volunteer Grants

Many companies offer grants to organizations where their employees volunteer. This kind of program ensures that the company is helping to support genuine community organizations that their employees care about. They help deepen the ties between the company and the community and send the message to your employees that you care about the things that are important to them.

Volunteer Hours Matching

The third iteration of volunteer donation programs rewards your employees with extra cash they can donate to others based on hours that they spend volunteering with community organizations. 

Giving employees paid time off for volunteering can make it difficult for workers to keep up with their workload and make more work for nonprofits. Some companies have found ways to reimburse employees for the time they already spend working in their communities. 

One way is to deposit the equivalent of their salary for the hours spent into a Groundswell Personal Giving Account. From there, the employee can direct the donation to the cause they choose, effectively doubling their impact on the ground. 

Donations Through Payroll Deduction

Many companies offer employees the opportunity to make giving easy by enrolling in an automatic payroll deduction for a chosen charity. Payroll deductions allow employees to essentially budget their charitable contributions over the course of the year. 

However, the choice of charities to support is usually very narrow — often only one or two charities are chosen by the board. 

A growing number of CEOs are moving away from the top-down approach to corporate giving, and moving to a model that puts the choice in the hands of their employees.

What Is a Workplace Giving Campaign?

Workplace giving campaigns are typically annual events held by companies to encourage employee donations to a cause. 

They’re often held in the fall, to coordinate with the holiday season — and of course, the end of the tax year. They can, however, take place at any time. Their purpose is to publicize and raise awareness of any company-sponsored employee giving programs, and get more people involved in them.

Campaigns may also revolve around a specific need or event. These campaigns include disaster relief campaigns, or campaigns to support specific needs in the local community — supporting the unhoused, or providing funds for meals during a pandemic, for example.

How Does Workplace Giving Work?

The nuts and bolts of employee giving programs are rapidly evolving. Legacy workplace giving programs collected donations from employees, then combined them and funneled them to one or two charities chosen by the board of directors or the CEO. Historically, there are two major models for doing this.

Payroll Deduction

Programs that collect charitable donations through payroll deductions are the most common type of workplace giving programs, accounting for nearly 75% of all employee giving annually. Payroll deductions make charitable giving easy on employees — they fill out a payroll deduction form once, and HR/Payroll does the rest. It’s so easy, in fact, that when Google implemented a pilot payroll giving program, it increased the likelihood of donations to a promoted charity by 50% without reducing the average amount donated. 

In addition, each participating employee has a running record of their deductions on their pay stub, with both the current and the year-to-date donation recorded. That’s a big boon at tax time — their pay stub serves as proof of their donation, so they don’t have to scrounge around looking for acknowledgement letters from the nonprofits to which they donate.

Nonprofits also benefit from this type of workplace giving program in several ways: they get predictable, sustainable donations, and often get more donations. Just as important, a payroll deduction model reduces the amount of work that falls on their shoulders by transferring a lot of it to the company’s payroll department. Managing a workplace giving campaign is a complex undertaking involving multiple steps and responsibilities.

  • The company creates a campaign to engage and encourage employees to sign up for the giving program. This is no small undertaking — there are entire toolkits devoted to teaching employees and volunteers to run successful campaigns.
  • The employee fills out a pledge card, designating the amount of the donation and/or the amount to be deducted each pay period. If the company allows it, they may also choose one of several pre-approved nonprofits to receive their donation.
  • The payroll department — or the company’s payroll provider — sets up the recurring deduction for each employee. 
  • If the company also operates a matching donation program, HR processes all donations to set up the matching donation.
  • Each pay period, the payroll department deducts and deposits the funds from each employee into a central account, then sends the final donation amount to the paying agent, such as the United Way.
  • The paying agent distributes the funds to the designated organizations.

Donation Matching Programs

Donation match programs can also be time-consuming and difficult to navigate — so much so, that billions of dollars in matching funds go unclaimed every year. A typical donation match program works like this:

  • The company determines which organizations will qualify for a matching gift and makes the list of qualifying organizations available to employees, and creates rules to determine the amount of the match. There may be differing amounts depending on the employee’s position or other criteria. For example, all full-time employees may qualify for 100% matching, while managers qualify for 200% matching.
  • The employee makes a donation to the charity of their choice.
  • After determining that their chosen organization qualifies for a match, the employee fills out and submits a request to HR for their employer to match their donation.
  • HR processes the request and determines the match amount based on the rules.
  • The company sends a check for the matching amount to the qualifying organization. 

Emerging Trends in Workplace Giving

Since the early 2000s, there’s been a growing movement to allow employees more choices of donors. Many donation match programs, for example, will match employee donations to any 501(c)3 charity. New platforms are streamlining corporate and employee giving, reducing the amount of work and time that goes into managing workplace giving campaigns and employee giving programs in general. 

The newest trends in corporate giving include making charitable giving part of the employee’s benefits package and providing granular control and choice on when and where to donate their funds. 

Advances in technology provided new tools — yes, there’s an app for that — to help companies manage and deploy their corporate giving programs in ways that make sense for their workforces. As the workplace and trends in giving continue to evolve, employee giving programs will also evolve to keep pace and provide the most seamless, empowering giving experience.

Benefits of Workplace Giving Programs

Employee giving programs are not just good for the causes that get the donations. They provide important positives for employees, the company, and the community. These are a few of the most important.

  • Improved Employee Recruitment: 55% of employees — including 75% of Millennials — would choose to work for a socially responsible company, even if they got paid less. 
  • Increased Employee Engagement: Employees are more engaged at work when they feel their employer aligns with their values.
  • Increased Profitability: Companies with the most engaged workers are 21% more profitable.
  • Better Public Image: People think more positively about businesses that give back to the community.
  • Deeper Community Connections: A well-planned employee giving program helps the business connect and cement relationships with organizations in the community.
  • Increased Employee Loyalty: Employees are more likely to recommend businesses that support them and their interests.
  • Higher Retention Rates: Employees who take advantage of employee giving programs stay with the company 75% longer.

What Employees Care About

According to a recent Deloitte Workplace Giving survey, 37% of workers donated to charity through a workplace giving program, but — and this is a big but — when they looked at Millennial and Gen Z employees, that percentage skyrocketed to 58%. 

Younger workers, those destined for leadership positions of future companies, care deeply about doing good in the world, and they reflect it in their behavior. They donate because they are connected to a cause or charity, because they want to support their community, and because giving makes them feel good. 

When you make it easy for them to plant a tree, buy a kid a desk, or adopt sheltered puppies, your company is showing them that they respect and support the people that they are, not just the work that they do for your business.

Why Is Employee Giving Important?

In addition to the benefits to your employees and your business bottom line, employee giving also brings an immense benefit to the community. 

In 2021, workplace giving programs raised more than $5 billion, with about 50% of that coming from matching gift programs. Those donations went to

  • Education related causes: 29%
  • Health and wellness causes: 25%
  • Community and economic development causes: 15%

Employees who donated through workplace giving programs reported that they donated to

  • Hunger and homelessness relief: 47%
  • Education: 23%
  • Social and racial equity causes: 20%

The right workplace giving program empowers your employees to support the causes closest to their hearts, without judgment and with the confidence that their employer trusts them to put their money where it will matter the most.

How to Set Up a Workplace Giving Program

If this is your first time setting up a workplace giving program, there are some important steps to consider. You want a program that reflects your company’s mission and core philosophy, one that your employees will embrace and be proud to use. These are some key principles to keep in mind and some action steps to get you started.

Evaluate Your Company’s Corporate Social Responsibility Policy. If You Don’t Have One, This Is A Good Time To Brainstorm.

  • Create a vision for your CSR that balances your responsibilities to your shareholders/owners, your employees, the community, the planet, and any other stakeholders.
  • Evaluate your current activities in light of community service. Do you partner with local organizations? Host volunteer activities? Make donations to local charities? Any of these would fit under the umbrella of CSR.
  • Establish a corporate code of ethics detailing how your company will treat employees, customers, the environment, and competitors in all your dealings.
  • Get strategic with your giving program to ensure that it aligns with your company’s values and ethics.

Set a Budget for Your Giving Program.

  • The amount you budget for corporate giving should be no more than you can afford to give without affecting the cash flow you need to operate your business.
  • Many large companies earmark 1% – 5% of their pre-tax earnings for charitable giving. Small companies often donate 6% or more to charity.
  • Consider designating profits from one particular product for giving.
  • Use the Sabsevitz Ante-Up Formula — multiply last year’s pre-tax net income by 1.2% to come up with a donation budget.
  • Check out more suggestions for setting your budget in this blog post.

Set Up Guidelines for Your Program

  • Employees: will all employees be included in your benefits program? Will they all be level-funded, or will some positions qualify for a higher workplace giving benefit? 
  • Moments That Matter: Can you make donations more meaningful by tying deposit amounts to specific events in the lives for your employees? 
  • Decide which charities/causes your company will support. Will you restrict employee giving to designated nonprofits? How expansive will your list of eligible organizations be? 

Establish A Process For Collecting, Matching, And Donating Contributions. 

Publicize The Program.

The key to a successful workplace giving program is awareness. Your employees can’t use a benefit they don’t know about, and your company won’t reap the benefits if your customers and employees don’t know what you’re doing. These are a few suggestions for raising awareness of your new employee giving program.

  • List it as a benefit in your recruitment materials.
  • Provide an easy — and very visible — way to access your program’s front end on your employee website, Discord, or other communication software.
  • Highlight your program in the company newsletter.
  • Create and distribute flyers explaining the program, its benefits, and how to use it to your employees.
  • If you offer donation matches, make sure that local nonprofits are aware of it.
  • Partner with local nonprofits and community organizations when it makes sense.

Is Workplace Giving Tax Deductible?

The simple answer is yes, in most cases, workplace giving is tax deductible, and has been since 1935 when Congress passed a law allowing corporations to deduct up to 10% of their pretax income on their tax returns. That limit was raised to 25% to encourage more giving during the pandemic. 

Maximizing Tax Benefits for Workplace Giving

It’s important to understand how tax-deductible donations work in order to maximize the benefits of a workplace giving program. 

Some types of corporate giving offer more benefits than others. 

DAFs offer unique tax benefits, but until recently, they’ve been reserved for high-dollar donors. Briefly, a DAF allows your company to make a donation at the most advantageous time — before the end of the tax year, for example — and take the deduction immediately, and decide when and where that money should be donated to nonprofits. In addition, DAFs make it more efficient to donate non-cash assets, such as stock and real estate, to charity, without incurring an additional tax burden.

Workplace Giving with Groundswell

Groundswell’s innovative Philanthropy as a Service model democratizes workplace giving by setting up a Personal Giving Account — an individual DAF — for each employee, effectively putting the power of a DAF in the palm of their hand. 

The company can make donations into each Personal Giving Account as part of an overall corporate giving strategy, timing the donations to provide the most benefit. The employee then decides when and where to make donations to the causes that are most important to them. 

If you’re ready to increase the impact of your workplace giving programs, contact us to learn more about how Groundswell can empower you and your employees to do more good and make the changes they want to see in the world.

8 Top Workplace Giving Trends and How to Use Them in 2023

The number of people who give to charity through their workplaces is spiking again, and for good reason. Workplace giving trends are on the rise.

According to Nonprofit Source, corporate giving in 2021 hit more than $20 billion — an 8% increase over 2019. A dive into the statistics behind that rise reveals some fascinating workplace giving trends that predict the future evolution of workplace giving.

5 Key Takeaways from 2021 Workplace Giving Statistics

For starters, the people doing the most giving may not be who you expect — and they’re giving to causes that reflect a growing awareness of today’s most pressing issues. Check out these five key takeaways from Deloitte’s 2021 Workplace Giving Survey.

  1. 37% of the professionals surveyed made donations through a workplace giving program.
  2. However, 58% of professionals between the ages of 18 and 34 donated through a workplace giving program.
  3. 37% want the opportunity to donate to specific programs and causes they care about.
  4. 57% support causes they’re personally connected to, and 40% donate because it makes them feel good.
  5. The top causes for workplace donations in 2021 were hunger and homelessness, education, social equality, and racial equity.

These trends suggest that employees — especially younger employees — are committed to making the world a better place, and are willing to put their dollars where their hearts are. 

They also reflect some larger workplace giving trends that can help guide companies looking to create more engagement in and impact from their workplace giving programs.

8 Workplace Giving Trends To Inspire You in 2023

From new technology to deepening partnerships with the community, workplace giving programs are rapidly evolving to be more inclusive, more personal, and more equitable. 

These are 8 key trends to watch — and adopt — in 2023.

1. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

In 1984, a group of community advocates founded the WALK for the Homeless in Worcester, Massachusetts, to raise awareness and funding to support programs serving the unhoused population in the small city. Over the past 37 years, thousands of people, many of them walking as part of a workplace team, have raised millions of dollars for their cause. They were ahead of their time. 

In 2020, there were hundreds of peer-to-peer fundraising events across the country. The top 30 collectively raised more than $975 million for their respective causes. 

You may know the peer-to-peer fundraising model best as a walkathon, danceathon, or 5K run where people create personal donation pages to get their friends and family to donate to a cause. They’ve become very popular as corporate fundraising events because let’s face it, they’re lots of fun, and they’re a great way to build team spirit. Companies often field teams of employees who participate, often competing with rival companies to raise the most money for the chosen cause.

Pro Tip: Supporting an established peer-to-peer fundraising event gives you a jump start on the planning and execution. They often provide ready-made donation pages and toolkits to boost your success rate.

2. Challenge Fundraising

Remember the ice bucket challenge? For several weeks in 2014, social media networks were flooded with images of people dumping buckets of ice over themselves — often in the middle of a snowy landscape. The viral fundraising campaign raised millions of dollars and energized a new wave of research into ALS, commonly known as Lou Gherig’s Disease. 

While most challenge fundraisers don’t get quite that much traction, they can be a fun way to inspire others to join in giving to charity. 

Pro Tip: Partner with a company that has experience in running challenges, like GivePenny.org, which creates challenges by connecting apps that your employees already use. If those don’t appeal, consider partnering with a local organization to create and run your own challenge fundraiser using software like the GiveWP blog add-on.

3. Measuring Social Impact — And Sharing!

Is your giving program really making a difference? Measuring social impact is one of the current buzz phrases in the corporate giving world. 

Donors — that’s you and your employees — understandably want to know if the money they donate is actually helping make positive change in the world around them. That means you have to develop a framework to actually measure the results of your corporate giving program. It can be as simple as generating a report of how many dollars were donated, but it can dive much deeper. How many meals did those donations provide? How many people earned a certificate in the class you sponsored? How many miles of beach were cleaned?

Pro Tip: It’s not enough just to collect data. The magic happens when you share it with your employees and they’re inspired by all that good. The ways to share data are nearly endless, from the time-honored temperature chart to graph donations to before and after photos of community cleanups or buildouts. And if the results aren’t quite as inspiring as you’d hoped, you can use them to start a discussion of how to do better next time.

4. Embracing New Ways to Give (Like the Groundswell App!)

If your workplace giving program has been mired in the stodgy depths of legacy corporate giving software, the newest advances in technology will shake up your worldview. 

The newest tech platforms make it easy for employees to make donations, submit requests for matching donations, and track their giving for end-of-year tax reporting. On the employer’s end, they provide seamless integration with donation-matching software and provide valuable insights into the causes that matter the most to their employees.

If you haven’t done it yet, take a look at the benefits of modernizing your workplace philanthropy flow. 

Pro Tip: Be bold and embrace change. Check out how Groundswell opens up a whole new way of giving for your employees through Personal Giving Accounts, allowing them to make donations when and where they want, without having to jump through a bunch of HR hoops.

5. Empowering Employee Choice

Today more than ever, employees want a voice in how the company donates to charity. They want to work for a business that shares the values they consider important. This is especially true among women and younger employees, as well as among employees who belong to (or know someone who belongs to) marginalized groups. 

Over the past 20 years, corporations have been recognizing this by giving employees more choices in donation match programs, offering volunteer grants to organizations where their employees volunteer, and forming employee working groups to identify causes and organizations to support. 

Pro Tip: Ask your employees what’s important to them — and listen carefully. Even better, actually, empower them to create corporate giving policies and programs.

6. Being Nimble in the Face of Current Events

You’ve heard the expression “may you live in interesting times.” The last few years have been the epitome of “interesting times,” and they’ve tested — and revealed the weaknesses — of traditional fundraising and corporate philanthropy models. 

It has meant that businesses have had to adapt their corporate giving to hot-button issues and emergent needs — being prepared to make statements and adjust their philanthropy guidelines to put their giving power behind their mission statements. 

For many organizations, this has meant reevaluating their corporate giving programs and building in more flexibility, both by providing more choice for their employees, and more discretion in spending for the organizations they support. 

Pro Tip: Use local current events and issues as springboards to launch special giving campaigns and events to engage your employees and connect them to the larger community. From clothing drives for families displaced in a fire to volunteer playground cleanups, events that respond to local needs are important drivers of employee engagement.

7. Stakeholder Philanthropy

One of the most powerful emerging trends is stakeholder philanthropy, the practice of inviting all stakeholders — employees, customers, consumers, the community, and partners — to the table when making decisions about charitable donations and corporate giving.

Corporate philanthropy is at its best when everyone involved reaps the benefits, but too often some of the stakeholders are left out of the decision-making. 

A corporate volunteering program may make good press for the company and provide a team-building experience for employees, but saddle a nonprofit with a lot of extra work. A CEO’s chosen charity may benefit from a tailored giving program but do little to engage most employees. 

Stakeholder philanthropy helps avoid those common pitfalls and increases the chance that your corporate giving programs will make a tangible impact on your employees and the causes they’re most passionate about.

Pro Tip: Poll employees for local organizations they support, and reach out to partner with those organizations to provide maximum impact.

8. Match Giving to Moments That Matter

Moments That Matter is more than a customer relations tool. When your company matches its giving policies to the moments that matter in an employee’s life, you’re letting them know that you see them, you get them, and you support them. 

Whether you increase your donation match to recognize a new child in the family or reward a department’s finished project with a little extra to donate to their Personal Giving Account, you are strengthening the relationship between them and the company, and increasing their satisfaction with work.

Pro Tip: Make moments that matter a key element of your employee benefits and workplace giving programs, and never forget that a personal touch makes a huge amount of difference. The gift will mean even more if it’s attached to a note — yes, a real, paper note — of congratulations or acknowledgment.

The Bottom Line

Workplace giving programs are rapidly evolving to meet the expectations and desires of today’s workforce. Employees want to work for companies that share and support their values. Offering a workplace giving program that meets their needs is one important way to send the message that you value them as whole people, not just as employees. Learn more about how Groundswell makes it easy for your company to set up and manage a corporate giving program that gives your employees the power to make a real impact on their communities.

The Ultimate Guide to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) with Step-By-Step Instructions.

Consumers want to do business with companies who practice corporate social responsibility – and for good reason.

Companies that have a good CSR program have a long-term view on doing business and understand their impact on society. These companies know their business has a ripple effect, so they focus on how they can do the most good without sacrificing profits.

The companies that take the time to design and implement a thoughtful, intentional CSR strategy are often rewarded with loyal customers, a strong, talented workforce, and a positive public image. 

In other words, consumers want to buy from businesses that are making a lasting positive social impact and employees want to work for those same companies doing good in the world.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) helps create a framework for greater corporate purpose, and promises a better future with sustainable business operations.

In this Ultimate Corporate Social Responsibility Guide, we define corporate social responsibility and explain how to align and leverage CSR best practices for your company. We also give you tips on how you can make your company socially responsible and how to make the case for including CSR programs to your executive team.

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Corporate social responsibility is the integration of societal and environmental concerns into the strategy and operations of a business. 

It consists of initiatives and policies founded on the principle that companies should play a positive role in the community and be accountable for the impacts they have on society as a whole, alongside making profits. 

Corporations accomplish this by ensuring existing business practices are responsible and sustainable, and that corporate philanthropy supports causes that are meaningful and aligned to their core business.

With a commitment to implement a strong CSR strategy, companies have an opportunity to determine where and how their business intersects with communities. They can support solutions to a range of social problems like poverty, hunger, and disease. 

For example, the food company Campbell’s saw an opportunity to align its core business with the challenges surrounding access to healthy and nutritious food. In response, they implemented a 10-year program to improve food access in Camden, New Jersey.

Companies also have a responsibility to protect the environment, maintain a safe, inclusive workplace for employees, and even consider how a portion of profits could support social and environmental initiatives, such as programs that provide clean water to those in need, or help maintain and increase access to free public parks in underserved communities.

Companies that operate with CSR best practices are proud to share how they give back to society, often through cause-related messaging, to encourage employees to volunteer and customers to support business.

As a byproduct, companies that grow in size also grow the size of their CSR programs. This growth gives corporations the opportunity to make a larger social impact as well as bring in more profits.

Why does CSR Matter?

Growing expectations by consumers and employees around the positive role that companies can and should play in society means that CSR matters more than ever. Increasingly, it can impact the bottom line – with consumers rewarding companies for their efforts to operate responsibly by purchasing their products in larger quantities, and with higher prices, just to name a few.

Corporations must learn how to adapt to the demands of this shift in consumer behavior while continuing to produce the goods consumers want.

Reasons why companies practice corporate social responsibility

Business Longevity

In the past, a corporation’s main responsibility was to make money for its shareholders. And while that is still important, it is also true that shareholder value can be increased through a business model that is more responsible and sustainable. 

An example of a company that has grown and benefited by integrating CSR into its core business practices is Dr. Bronner’s. Not only has their CSR program improve customer loyalty, it’s helped make a positive social impact.

Employee Engagement and Retention

Employees, especially the Gen Z workforce, increasingly want to work for a company that aligns with their values. Employees are most engaged with a company that is giving back to the community. A growing trend in business shows that employee satisfaction and employee-to-company relationships directly impact performance.

Companies with strong CSR practices can see increased productivity from their employees, less turnover and attrition rates, less absenteeism, enhanced loyalty and goodwill towards the organization, and positive word of mouth.

As a byproduct of a company’s CSR efforts, employees also feel their individual interests being taken care of, especially for those who offer employee benefits packages that include health, retirement, and charitable giving programs that empower employees to give to charity. 

Attract and keep customers

It is possible that some, if not most, of companies’ customers will have a social agenda of their own and may not be willing to support a company that is not socially responsible. Research has shown that customers are four to six times more likely to buy from and trust a company that has a strong sense of purpose.

The companies that can tap into consumers’ sentiments around social and environmental issues and prove they are responsible corporate actors will likely have an edge over competitors who don’t.

Public Reputation

It’s no secret that a company’s reputation and their social responsibility are closely linked. Practicing social responsibility gives a company a chance to have the secondary benefit of making a positive impact on their reputation. 

Having a good reputation in the community and with the public is a major factor in growing a successful business.

Corporate social responsibility benefits

While few People Leaders see CSR as a burden of business operation, corporate social responsibility campaigns actually afford several benefits to businesses.

A good CSR campaign that promises to improve employee retention saves a company in onboarding and training expenses as well as the opportunity costs that come with losing talented employees.

Furthermore, companies with useful CSR-supporting software can save on hiring data-entry specialists. Tools like Groundswell can cut out the administrative duty needed for managing a corporate giving program.

How to Build a CSR Program

  1. Identify important company goals
  2. Understand consumer interests
  3. Brainstorm programs
  4. Carry out program plans
  5. Measure results

Designing and implementing a CSR program must be guided by the company’s business strategy, customer expectations, and employees’ interests. It is often shaped by the company’s operational footprint, the industry or sector, and where employees are based. 

1. Identify important company goals

The first step is to identify and prioritize important company goals and how the CSR program supports those. This includes understanding your industry and the challenges that you are going up against, both today but also what is on the horizon.

Take note of how the business is going, who the detractors are and who the supporters are. This information will help guide your CSR campaigns during planning.

2. Understand consumer interests

Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and what they might be looking for. You’ll find this exercise enlightening and helpful in deciding where to put your resources. Do they support your business (product, service, etc) because of an existing CSR program that inspires them?

Aligning your programs to not just meet the expectations  of your customers but give them a sense of pride and true connection to your business puts the company in a better position to compete with companies offering similar products or services.

It also helps to find out what employees care about. Often, employees are also consumers, so getting to know your workforce can provide strong insights.

3. Design programs

The communities closest to your business, its operational footprint and reach of the product or services, will be the first to experience your social impact. This can be mapped based on geographic footprint as well as demographic groups. Based on this mapping, you might identify and provide funding to nonprofits that are serving those communities closest to the business.

If your employee base is also local, then supporting local schools, community centers, and other social programs can result in a healthier, thriving workforce. 

Aligning your CSR programs with stakeholder interests helps your company’s reputation, as well as helps build stronger, positive relationships in the community. 

As you brainstorm and design programs, think of ways you can make a positive impact on the lives of your employees, customers, and the broader community.

During the design phase it’s also important to articulate your overarching goals and develop Key Performance Indicators to help you measure progress against those goals. This is a critical part of program design that will enable you to report back to internal and external stakeholders on the value of the programs.

4. Carry out CSR programs

Once the planning stages of your CSR program are complete, it’s time to carry out your campaigns.

After some time, your company’s CSR program will go through several changes and continue to refine itself. As long as your team puts an effort in organizing and managing the CSR program, you can feel confident that you’ll develop a program that works best for your business.

A great way to get started with a CSR program that requires little-to-no administrative requirements, corporate giving and matching programs work well.

5. Measure results

In order to celebrate the successes but also make necessary adjustments, it’s important to gather data and keep track of your progress by measuring your program’s impact. 

Some key performance indicators (KPIs) of a good CSR program could include number of community members served / impacted by the nonprofit programs your company supports; level or percentage of employee engagement in a giving or volunteer program; and an improved or positive ‘score’ on CSR rankings (e.g. Dow Jones Sustainability Index, 3BL Corporate Citizens Awards, Sustainable Brands, etc).

Examples of Companies with Amazing Corporate Social Responsibility Programs

Patagonia is an outdoor clothing company based in Ventura, California. Their mission is to create quality products that last a lifetime.

In addition to their sustainability practices and their clothing-repair program, Patagonia donates its profits to their nonprofit, Holdfast Collective, an organization dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature.

Starbucks is a coffee company based in Seattle, Washington. This people, planet, and profit-positive focused company has CSR programs focused on inclusion and diversity.

Starbucks established the Starbucks Foundation in 1997, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization with the goal of strengthening humanity by uplifting communities. As part of their mission, the have the goal of hiring 25,000 US military veterans and spouses by 2025 as part of their program.

Toms is a shoe company based in Los Angeles who pioneered the One for One model–which was a program that gave away one pair of shoes for every pair sold. 

Today, Toms gives away ⅓ of profits to fund grassroots initiatives to help those in need of support for mental health. Since 2006, Toms has given away over 100,000,000 shoes and impacted just as many lives.

Bombas is a clothing company based in New York whose mission is to put thoughtfully designed, essential clothing into the hands and onto the feet of those in need.

The company donates the #1, #2, and #3 most requested items to homeless shelters as well as donates one pair of socks for every pair of socks purchased. To date, Bombas has donated over 75 million items.

Pitching your CSR Program to Your Executive Team 

1. Frame Your Pitch

When pitching your CSR campaigns to your executive team, you want frame your presentation in a way that speaks to why the programs are valuable to the business and not just “for the good of society.”

Executives have a responsibility to grow the business and return value to shareholders, so a CSR program needs to stay aligned with business objectives to be considered worth the budget required to execute it.

Framing your pitch to speak on the goals of the business, how the CSR program will help employee performance, how the program aids in employee retention, and how it reduces the cost of onboard and training new employees will help your executive team understand the benefit from a business point of view.

2. Collect Supporting Data

As you create your presentation, include a section that discusses the impact CSR campaigns have had on business results in recent years.

Look for information highlighting employee satisfaction and retention as a result of CSR programs as well as reports on employee productivity and performance. 

There’s a strong correlation between employee performance and CSR programs that have been proven through scholarly research. 

The Wall Street Journal reported companies experience 52% lower turnover among newer employees involved in corporate-purpose programs.

3. Choose the Right Program Software

Part of managing your CSR programs is having the right software to support your team’s needs.

Depending on the CSR programs you have in place, there are a handful of software you can use to take the hard work out of implementation, organization, and management.

For example, when considering how best to empower employees to donate to charities, Groundswell Giving is an example of a corporate giving platform that takes the work out of managing a workplace giving program. What’s more, Groundswell provides program administrators easy access to the data to help report back to key internal stakeholders about the causes that are supported, top charities, total funds sent to charities, and level of employee engagement in the program.

4. Present to Your Team

During your presentation, be sure to communicate how the corporate social responsibility program will help the company achieve its larger business goals.

While you’ll want to speak to the broader importance of practicing corporate social responsibility, your message will resonate most with the executive decision makers when your message is paired with the business case for the CSR programs.

What Is Corporate Philanthropy and Why Should You Care?

If the words “corporate philanthropy” call up images of pink ribbon campaigns, big donations to very visible causes, and big brands improving their image through charitable donations, hang tight. 

There’s a lot more to the picture than big-dollar donations to well-known charities and causes. In today’s business world, businesses of all sizes and in all sectors are committed to giving back to their communities through some form of charitable giving — and “charitable giving” takes on many forms. 

In fact, as of 2021, 85% of U.S. companies have a formal corporate giving program in place, and they donated a combined $20.77 billion to charitable causes. 

But what is corporate philanthropy, exactly, and what are the best ways for your company to give back to the community? The answers to those questions are evolving as a society — and employees — become more knowledgeable, engaged and interested in how the companies they deal with affect the world around them.

What Is Corporate Philanthropy? 

Corporate philanthropy refers to activities and investments voluntarily made by businesses to make a positive impact on the community around them. 

That’s a very broad umbrella. It covers everything from giving money to donating expertise and encouraging employees to volunteer for community organizations. If your company hosts a food drive for Thanksgiving, buys uniforms for a local soccer team, or offers a matching donations program for charitable giving, it is engaging in corporate philanthropy. 

Learn more about corporate giving and why it’s important in our resource section.

Who Benefits From Corporate Philanthropy?

The benefits of giving back are many, and not just for the organizations on the receiving end of donations. The business also reaps benefits, as do the employees and the general community. 

In a world where consumers increasingly expect companies to be socially responsible partners in our world, having a formal corporate giving program in place is a vital part of doing business. Charitable donations aren’t just a sunk cost of doing business, though. There are clear benefits for the company when they make the choice to give back. Those include:

7 Types of Corporate Philanthropy

The face of corporate philanthropy has been evolving rapidly, especially in light of the last few years of upheaval and technological advances. These are the seven most common forms of corporate giving. Many companies engage in more than one, and many more are rethinking their strategic corporate philanthropy plans as corporate social responsibility takes on more importance to customers and employees. More on that later. 

Employee and Board Stipends

Some corporations provide cash stipends to employees or board members, which they can donate to the charities or causes of their choice.  

Volunteer Support

Companies may organize, support or give paid time off to employees who volunteer for organizations in their community. The support may be technical — an accounting firm may provide training and expertise to a startup nonprofit, for example — or more general, such as gathering a team to help paint houses or build playgrounds in the neighborhood. 

Corporate Sponsorships

The Little League team, a fundraising event by the local food bank, a fashion show put on by a local charity — these are all examples of businesses using corporate sponsorships as part of their overall corporate philanthropy strategy. The corporation makes a donation to charity in return for being prominently mentioned during the event. 

Community Grants

A company may offer grants to community organizations that apply for them and meet specific criteria to qualify. Walmart, for example, offers grants ranging from $250 to $5,000 to local community organizations. Often, the grants are given through a foundation established by the company for the purpose of making corporate donations.

In-Kind Donations

In-kind donations are donations of goods or services instead of cash. This type of donation is more common among smaller businesses, such as restaurants donating pizza to a local homeless shelter, or providing coffee and donuts free of charge to a weekly parents’ group meeting. Similarly, many companies donate a “portion of x sold” gifts to charity. Stop and Shop, for example, donates a dollar to a local organization for each reusable shopping bag purchased by customers.

Donor-Advised Funds

Donor-advised funds — DAFs — are a variation on making grants to charities and causes through a foundation. In a nutshell, a DAF is like a personal charitable giving account, similar to a health savings account. The donor can make donations at any time and receive an immediate tax advantage. The funds sit in the DAF until the donor decides to disburse them to the charity or cause of their choice. DAFs offer several benefits that make them the fastest-growing charitable giving vehicle in the U.S.

Matching Donations

We saved this one for last because matching donation programs are among the most common corporate giving programs — 9 out of 10 companies have employee matching programs

Traditionally, an employee makes a donation to a charity or cause, and then either they or the nonprofit submits a form to the company, which then makes a second donation to the charity, effectively doubling — or sometimes tripling — the original amount. 

Despite their popularity, matching gift programs account for only about 12% of cash donations received by nonprofits, and an estimated $4 to $7 billion in matching gift money is never distributed. That’s because the entire process can be cumbersome, both for your HR department and for the nonprofit receiving the donation. 

A New Kind of Corporate Philanthropy — Philanthropy as a Service

Groundswell believes that it’s time to rethink how matching donations programs work. Groundswell makes it easy for companies to launch a charitable giving program that takes advantage of all the benefits of a DAF for them and their employees. The Groundswell platform unlocks the potential of DAFs reimagining corporate philanthropy using the x-as-a-service model. 

Philanthropy as a service — PHaaS — lets you skip the complicated process of setting up a foundation, hiring accountants and handling all the day-to-day nuts and bolts of managing a charity. 

Instead, you get a simple, transparent platform that allows your company and your employees to support the causes they believe in without all the friction that accompanies traditional matching donation programs. 

Your company reaps the benefits of having a defined charitable giving program. Your employees are more engaged, with their privacy protected and their autonomy honored, and the causes they support get their donations without the hassle of chasing down the matching funds. 

It’s a win-win-win solution that empowers everyone in the equation.

Final Thoughts

Corporate philanthropy has evolved over the years, and it’s evolving faster than ever thanks to technological advances and changing social attitudes. If you’re ready to take the next step in corporate philanthropy, reach out to us to learn more about what PHaaS can bring to your company.

How To Promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace

It’s easy enough to incorporate DEI into your values statement and add a page or two to your website. But like every other aspect of your business, when it comes to implementation, things can get a bit more complicated. If you find yourself wondering how to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the real world, you are not alone.

The good news is, however, that it can be done. It’s worth getting it right, too, because the rewards will come. For many companies, it’s not just a matter of sentiment. In fact, diversity doesn’t always feel warm and fuzzy. Sometimes it can feel a little uncomfortable. But that’s when you know it’s working and you’re reaping the benefits.

In today’s climate, diversity, equity and inclusion matter. In this article, you’ll not only learn more about why it matters, but you’ll also understand how it feels. Finally, we’ll give you some ideas on how to promote DEI in the workplace.

Why DEI Matters

The data just keeps stacking up. Diversity is good for your business. Of course, DEI is competing with a myriad of other business imperatives. But when it comes to cultivating a high-performing organization, there are many compelling reasons that DEI should garner attention. Diverse teams are more engaged and productive. The best teams are adept at problem-solving and spawning innovation. Teams that are gender diverse are powerhouses, but teams that mix ethnic backgrounds? Even better.

Yet many organizations simply have not matured in their DEI efforts so that they can reap the full benefits. In a 2022 HR Research Institute survey, although 44% of respondents said that their organization’s DEI initiative plays a role in strategic planning, just 9% of companies said that the effort was very effective. That leaves a lot of room for improvement.

The U.S. is becoming increasingly diverse. The 2020 Census revealed that nearly half of the population under the age of 18 identify as something other than white. Companies that invest resources into their DEI initiatives will be able to reap long-term benefits. Those that do not will fall behind.

Forget About How It Looks. What Does DEI Feel Like?

Diversity is something you can try to quantify. But the numbers alone are not enough. In order to get the benefits from your DEI efforts, you need to cultivate an equitable and inclusive work environment. In short, this means that employees feel a sense of belonging. While there are various reasons employees give when asked why they feel they do not belong, researchers at Columbia Business School say it comes down to “identity threat.” 

Identity threat is anything that makes someone feel different than others. This can be relatively minor, such as when a manager talks to a group of low-income employees about vacationing in Italy. It also includes micro-aggressions, such as when a highly qualified Black manager is told that she is “so articulate.” Researchers found that participants reported an average of 11 such experiences a week. 

Although identity threat is associated with feeling excluded, that isn’t all. More importantly, individuals feel that they cannot be themselves at work. Predictably, this leads to discontent and may explain why some companies lose diverse employees as quickly as they bring them on. 

How To Get the Most Out of DEI Efforts

DEI isn’t about walking on eggshells. However, it does require that managers think more deeply about how to root out systemic and institutional biases. Laying blame on groups or individuals for implicit biases doesn’t help, nor does it ingratiate employees to the cause. Either they feel exonerated because their biases are not their fault, or they feel blamed because they have chosen to embrace their biases. 

We all have biases, implicit or otherwise. The larger problem is that some of the most harmful biases are ingrained in the policies of our institutions. So it helps to think broadly about what must change. Tackle the big issues and the smaller issues start to fade. It is apparently what has happened in the gay and lesbian community. 

As more people came out, the idea became less foreign. More connections, or the “contact hypothesis” as psychologists have called it, led to greater acceptance and the shedding of biases. The same thing can happen in the workplace.

Meanwhile, here are five ways to systemically promote DEI in the workplace.

Examine Your Company Policies

When you created your company DEI policy, you may have reviewed other policies to ensure alignment. Go back and revisit those documents with a fresh eye. 

There may be bias embedded in these policies that you didn’t recognize. Or perhaps you need additional guidelines. For example, many diverse employees may be primary caregivers. Does your leave policy take this into account?

Promote Pay Equity

According to the HR Research survey, just 9% of companies say that equitable pay is a top priority for executives. The gender pay gap still exists in 94% of all occupations. During the pandemic, women were net losers, dropping out of the workforce in record numbers, exacerbating inequities that existed pre-COVID. There is no better time to refocus on pay equity.

Train Often

DEI training should never be considered complete. You don’t need to throw out your bias training. But remember the big picture. Focus on how inequities are built into systems. The goal is to raise the overall level of cultural sensitivity and reflect these values systemically. 

It helps if senior executives split their attendance among multiple sessions and offer kudos, both publicly and privately, to employees who are there. Offer refresher courses annually and reward participation so that everybody attends. 

Mix Things Up

Ensure that teams, workgroups and task forces are diverse. Bring lower-level employees into executive meetings when possible. Encourage groups to participate across functions and include upper management when it seems appropriate. 

Mixing things up can feel uncomfortable. But this is how new and different ideas emerge. Promote your best team leaders — those that ensure that all team members feel included and heard.

Facilitate Feedback

It’s essential to understand how diversity is working in your company. It’s also essential for diverse employees to receive feedback. 

Giving feedback is a difficult job for many managers. They may be especially reluctant to offer feedback to diverse employees. This means that diverse employees receive less mentoring and guidance and fewer opportunities to make course corrections and advance in the organization. 

Ensure that the feedback conversation is a two-way conversation. Train your managers as needed. 

Support Nonprofits

Align your philanthropic activities to support nonprofits that improve diverse communities. Remember that people like to work for companies that share their values. When you provide matching donations, as well, it democratizes the process so that every employee can have a voice. 

There are many benefits that accrue to businesses that figure out how to build a truly inclusive culture. With a proactive approach, your company can push your DEI initiative beyond the numbers and retain the diverse talent it attracts

If you need a better way to set up and manage your corporate giving program, Groundswell can help. We can get your program up and running fast, providing an excellent giving experience for your employees.

The Problems With Corporate Volunteer Programs and How To Avoid Them

Why Corporate Volunteering Programs Are Often Ineffective

The concept of corporate volunteering is one of the fair-haired darlings of the corporate social responsibility conversation. Corporations who are looking to give back to the community in a meaningful way often turn to corporate volunteer programs as an easy win-win that provides benefits for everyone involved. 

The proponents of corporate volunteerism tout it as an effective way to communicate company values, cement teams and boost employee engagement and loyalty, while improving relations with local organizations and community, all wrapped up in a neat “socially responsible” bow. While those benefits are real, companies that set out to build corporate volunteer programs often overlook the other side of these widely used programs. 

If you’re seriously considering a volunteer program for your business, it’s important to weigh the benefits against the work you need to do to create and manage an effective, engaging program that works for your company, your employees and the causes you support.

What Goes Into a Successful Corporate Volunteer Program?

Running a successful, effective volunteer program within your company is a lot of work, and the work starts well in advance of the launch. 

Volunteer Hub, which provides software for managing an employee volunteer program (EVP), lists eight steps to launching a successful EVP, each of them time consuming but essential to success. 

A couple of key steps highlight some of the most common pitfalls these companies encounter.

Assess Community Needs and Employee Interest

Far too often, companies start an EVP because someone in the company leadership saw a cool idea and thought it would be a good fit for their company. They launch into it without taking the time to research the community needs or consulting employees for ideas and interest. The end result can be a program with low employee engagement that is a headache for the causes they hope to promote and support. 

Partner with the Right Organizations

If part of your incentive in creating an EVP is to raise your profile in the community, it’s important to choose organizations that align with your business’s objectives and values. Ideally, those will be causes or charities that resonate with your employees, but that might not be the case for all of them. Programs that focus narrowly on one or two organizations risk shutting out some employees who may have other priorities for their volunteer time.

Assess and Quantify Impact

Record-keeping and assessment are an essential part of managing a successful, ongoing EVP. Collecting and managing the info — especially if your EVP includes paid time off or volunteer stipends — is an additional, time-consuming burden on your HR department. 

Publicize Your Program

Marketing your EVP has two main targets: your employees and the community. In both cases, it requires time, effort and expense on the part of your company and those who are managing it. 

The Pitfalls of Corporate Volunteer Programs

While the benefits of employee volunteer programs are widely known, there’s not as much conversation about the problems that often arise in running and managing them. Beyond the time and expense involved in managing an EVP, companies may run into one or more of these issues that diminish the impact it might have.

What Employees Say

Recent research into employee motivations and lived experience of employee volunteer programs highlighted some of the challenges and negative outcomes they experienced. Some of the issues included:

  • The pressure to volunteer makes some employees feel that they are being judged or evaluated for their commitment to the company, especially if they aren’t connected to the volunteer work.
  • Many employees felt that they didn’t have enough time to do volunteer work and still keep up with the demands of their job. 
  • Volunteer programs may inadvertently shut some employees out of participation. For example, volunteer activities that involve physical activity, such as building houses or fundraising walks, may be difficult for employees with mobility problems. A single parent may find it difficult to participate in activities that happen outside working hours because they don’t have child care.
  • When volunteer programs limit opportunities to one or two events, some employees may find nothing that interests them.
  • Many employees want more control over their volunteer opportunities, from choosing causes to support to planning activities for the team. 

What Nonprofits Say

Volunteer management is a specialized skill in the nonprofit world, and many larger organizations that depend on volunteers for their operations have staff dedicated specifically to that task. That’s not always the case. 

In fact, some corporate volunteer programs can make extra work for a nonprofit without a tangible gain. These are some of the issues highlighted by nonprofits who accept corporate volunteers.

In short, an EVP that isn’t planned and coordinated with a nonprofit partner, and focused on filling their needs rather than those of the corporation, can be a drain on the nonprofit’s resources.

Practical Alternatives to Corporate Volunteer Programs

The challenges described in the previous section often result when programs are conceived, planned and executed from the top down, without considering the other stakeholders — the employees and the nonprofits — they’re intended to benefit. Many of these can be alleviated by following specific best practices, including:

  • Involve employees in the planning from the start.
  • Engage in meaningful assessment with potential nonprofit partners to assess their needs and capacity.
  • Tailor volunteer activities to the needs of the nonprofit and your employees.
  • Provide wider choices in corporate volunteer program activities.
  • Measure the impact of your program periodically and make adjustments where needed.

What if, after doing the research and evaluating your capacity, you realize that typical corporate volunteer programs aren’t the best fit for your company and your employees? There are some practical alternatives to consider, alternatives that give your employees more choice and autonomy while still allowing your company to support them and the causes most important to them.

Give Them More Money To Donate

The one thing that every nonprofit always needs is more money. While volunteering feels good, nonprofits can often make better use of cash donations that they can apply to their own needs. 

Expand Your Definition of Volunteering

If you offer paid time off for volunteering, expand your definition to include the informal volunteering that many people do as a matter of course. Paying employees for the time they spend supporting the causes most important to them sends a powerful message that your company values them. 

Empower Employees To Donate in the Ways That Are Most Meaningful to Them

Employee giving programs — including employee volunteer programs — are most effective when they empower employees to support the causes and charities that are most important to them. By removing barriers to giving and volunteering, your company can provide the opportunity and means for your employees — and your business —  to make a difference in the world.

The Groundswell Difference

Groundswell makes it easy to get an employee giving program up and running with a minimum of effort on your part. It’s designed to empower employees to support the causes and charities that are most important to them, while respecting and supporting each of their diverse perspectives. You choose how and when your company disburses funds into your employee giving accounts — such as paid time for volunteering — and they choose when and how they donate those funds.

To learn more about how Groundswell can help power your corporate giving strategy and empower your employees to make an impact, contact us and ask about the benefits of an equitable, inclusive employee giving program.

Giving Tuesday Donations: Best Practices and Ideas for Businesses

Giving Tuesday is fast approaching, so we wanted to give you great Giving Tuesday ideas. Now’s the time when nonprofits ask their patrons and donors to dig a little deeper to finish off the annual donations drive with a strong push.

Normally December is the month when donations peak. Giving Tuesday donations serve as a kickoff, establishing the momentum for this important month of generosity. 

Although the proceeds from Giving Tuesday benefit nonprofits, businesses play an important role. It’s a great opportunity to help the community and invest in causes that support the company’s values. Employees, too, will appreciate the chance to participate in meaningful ways.

What Is Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday rolls around every year on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, or perhaps, more appropriately, after Black Friday. But it’s not nearly as old. It was started in 2012 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City by soon-to-be-CEO Henry Timms and co-founded by the United Nations Foundation. 

Timms’s idea was to reverse the trend of heavy consumerism surrounding Black Friday and encourage everyone to give back. 

Sure, people like Bill Gates tweeted about it and helped to spread the word. But the idea was supercharged by families and small communities that embraced the idea and ran with it, asking themselves and their children what they stood for, and then donating and pitching in to help the causes they really cared about.

According to Timms’ interview with PBS, “We need to stop seeing people as donors and start seeing them as owners.” 

In the new paradigm that Timms envisioned, the role of the donor extends far beyond money. It also includes giving time, a voice and ideas to confront the problems in an increasingly interconnected world. 

What surprised and delighted Timms most was that, from the very beginning, the idea captured the hearts of people around the world who wanted to make the idea even better. Today, Giving Tuesday has become part of their traditions. 

Why Is It Important?

Giving Tuesday provides a boost to donations for the year, encouraging businesses and individuals to give in whatever ways suit them best. It’s a chance to raise more money than on an average day and serve to kick-start the year-end giving campaign. Those who want to take advantage of tax-deductible donations will be looking for opportunities to contribute. Further, Giving Tuesday donations leverage the generosity that has long been a tradition of the holiday season. 

Giving Tuesday can provide a boost to your brand. You can leverage the opportunity to let customers know about the good things your company does year-round. It’s well established that customers care about purchasing from companies that are charitable. 

And it’s not just about feeling good either. Recent research has discovered that people purchase from companies that demonstrate corporate social responsibility (CSR) because they believe that the company’s products and services are safer and of higher quality.

Giving Tuesday is also an opportunity to remind employees that they are part of a company that cares. Employees who work for companies with generous giving initiatives are likely to be happier and more engaged than employees who work for other companies.

How Companies Can Make a Difference When It Comes to Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is more than a once-a-year symbolic movement of generosity. It’s about individuals who ask what they can do and then act in powerful ways to help others. It’s about mobilizing communities so that they are empowered and self-advocating. But it’s also about companies, both large and small, doing what they can to support the communities they serve. Everybody and every organization can make a difference.

Companies with CSR initiatives are uniquely positioned to do more than individuals. CSR is all about companies taking a positive role in the community. In addition to considering the ethical and environmental impact of their operation and making sound fiduciary decisions, the most progressive companies are proactive in their philanthropic pursuits. That means making the world a better place. There are many ways to do this including donating to worthy causes and creating their own trusts.

Giving Tuesday is a great opportunity to highlight your company’s ongoing activities such as volunteering, matching donations and other activities. Treat it as part of your overall corporate philanthropy strategy

Giving Tuesday Best Practices

Here are some best practices that companies have used to ensure that their Giving Tuesday event is successful. 

Set Your Values 

It’s important to have alignment between the company’s values and its decisions and actions. This is equally important with your philanthropic efforts. Revisit why charitable giving matters so that as you develop your strategies you develop a long-term plan.

Define Targets

Before you establish goals, you’ll need to think about the targets. Your Giving Tuesday initiative should have something in it for the community as well as for your customers and employees. For example, giving a portion of sales is a good way to include customers.

Inventory Your Resources 

There are always more needs than there are resources available to help. But just remember, Giving Tuesday goes beyond dollar donations. There is also employee time, goods and services, managerial talent, facilities and social media reach. 

Establish Goals 

Take stock of your resources and commit to specific and measurable goals. Edit and prioritize so that you can devote sufficient time to achieving the goals you set.  

Make a Plan 

Choose some ideas and decide how to implement them. Start planning early so that you have time to fine-tune the details. To support your efforts, ensure that your communication strategy is buttoned up. Include, for example, an email campaign, social media outreach and a robust webpage.

Establish Metrics 

Measure so that you will have benchmarks for your future efforts. In addition to the ROI, you will also want to know who benefited from your efforts and what to repeat or improve next year. Did you actually increase your overall giving?

Giving Tuesday Ideas

There are hundreds of Giving Tuesday ideas that your company can implement. Following are just a few suggestions on what you could include in your initiative.

  • Ask employees to nominate and select a long-term charity partner.
  • Create a Giving Tuesday hashtag and donate each time the hashtag is shared.
  • Match the proceeds of a fundraising event planned by employees.
  • Coordinate with other local businesses to host a charity auction.
  • Host a meet-and-greet for nonprofits with local businesses to extend their network.
  • Donate a portion of sales to a nonprofit group.
  • Give employees a charitable stipend to give to a nonprofit of their choice

Make It Easy

The best way to manage Giving Tuesday ideas and all your philanthropic initiatives is with a corporate giving platform. Groundswell can help with its frictionless setup and administration. We can have your program up and running in no time with minimal investment of your staff and resources. Contact us today.