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Why You Should Consider Providing a DAF in Your Financial Wellness Benefits
With 42% of employees in full-time work struggling to make ends meet, financial wellness benefits are no longer a bonus perk that Human Resources can offer. They are a business priority. Uncertain economic conditions, from the aftershocks of the pandemic to rising inflation, compel employees to make their money go further. Financial wellness benefits offer a framework for investing in the future, and no more so than with donor-advised funds (DAFs). Employees don’t have to compromise on their charitable giving because of financial health challenges. In fact, DAFs can unlock some attractive tax advantages.
What Are Financial Wellness Benefits?
Employees are increasingly looking at the financial wellness benefits a company offers with the same interest they pay to the starting salary, health and well-being perks, and flexible working options. That’s because financial stress is on the rise. When workers are preoccupied with their personal finances, they’re not only less productive. They’re also likely to seek a more attractive offer from an alternative employer. Workers want the most sought-after financial wellness benefits:
Retirement planning ranks as the #1 priority. Employees want to feel secure about their future after work.
Insurance is another must-have. Health, life and disability coverage provides a safety net should circumstances change.
Financial education can help employees save, limit their tax liability, and build a budget that supports personal growth.
Investing opportunities allow employees to put their money to work so that they’re earning even when they’re away from the office.
Why It’s Important
Personal and professional lives are never completely separate and that’s why employee benefits are so important. Bearing in mind that one in four employees claim that financial worries negatively impact their professional performance, companies who take the initiative with financial wellness packages should look forward to:
Better employee retention
Higher engagement and morale
Greater opportunities to attract top talent
Salary isn’t everything, particularly to Gen Z. One of the issues that the Great Resignation highlighted is that workers are fleeing roles that don’t align with their personal goals, but they will invest their skills in a company culture built around strong values.
Corporate giving is one of those values that still register high on the wishlist. There’s a sense that a company’s obligations don’t stop at its internal gender equality, diversity and inclusion goals. The impact a business makes on the local and wider community is just as important, and philanthropy is a key measure for supporting that vision.
Why You Should Include Donor-Advised Funds
The benefit that a DAF brings to corporate giving is that it balances philanthropy with financial benefits for the employee. By donating through a DAF to a public nonprofit sponsor organization, employees can gift cash, stock, real estate or other assets. Donations of the latter (real estate and assets) tend to happen at the corporate level, but individual employees can unlock immediate tax advantages by gifting cash or stock through a DAF. The advantages of giving through a DAF include:
Reduce Tax Liability
Individuals can claim a tax deduction of up to 60% of their adjusted gross income if they give through donor-advised funds — and there’s no need to submit piles of extra paperwork to the IRS.
Avoid Capital Gains on Stocks and Securities
That’s particularly attractive for workers at tech firms or startups, where stock options and signing bonuses are a key employee retention strategy. Employees at Amazon, for example, receive restricted stock units (RSUs) that yield big dividends in years three and four.
The only restriction on giving through DAFs is that the threshold is usually high. Although the minimum donation with some brokerages is as little as $5,000, these are the exceptions. Morgan Stanley and Vanguard, for example, start at $25,000, making them more suitable for giving at a corporate rather than individual employee level.
That’s why Groundswell is so innovative within the corporate giving space. Employees can have their own DAF and get started with as little as $1, meaning that any employee can access a personal giving account and enjoy the tax benefits immediately. Find out more about corporate giving as an employee benefit by contacting us today.
Recession Recovery: How To Show Local Community Support
During the recession recovery, it’s important for businesses to support local communities. It’s a role that businesses have historically played and one that allows communities to bounce back as quickly as possible. Certainly, it helps that many businesses remained open or reopened quickly during the crisis, providing products, services and jobs when they were most needed. However, there are many other ways that your business can help your community recover as we look forward to more prosperous times.
Why It’s Important To Support the Community
As mentioned, communities benefit from the products, services and jobs each business offers. Businesses, in turn, must be surrounded by strong communities, without which they cannot survive. So it’s in the best interest of your business to provide as much support as possible to stimulate the local economy and fulfill your corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Not only will the community recover more quickly, but your business will also have fostered deeper relationships, enhanced your brand awareness and reputation, and generated lasting goodwill. Further, it’s an opportunity to foster a positive culture internally that attracts and retains the best people. It’s true: People like companies that support the community. This applies to employees, as well. It’s a win-win for everyone.
How Your Business Can Help
The most effective community recovery plan will be those that are a part of your business disaster preparedness and continuity planning process. You may have such a plan in place but found that it fell short during these unprecedented times.
You may have anticipated many types of scenarios. Handing out bottled water after a devastating storm. Providing emergency shelter. Sponsoring a local food bank. But who could have predicted a worldwide pandemic? Apparently, not very many.
Still, there are things that your business can do right now to aid in the economic recovery of the communities you serve. If you were fortunate enough to make it through the financial ups and downs with your own business intact, you are one of the fortunate companies that are uniquely positioned to help.
What To Do
It doesn’t take a Herculean effort, just a few purposeful steps.
Hire Local Businesses
As you know, not every business made it through the darkest days of COVID-19. But the restaurant industry was especially hard hit. Although the number is exceptionally difficult to pin down, according to the Washington Post, an estimated 70,000 restaurants closed due to the pandemic. For those that survived, why not hire them to cater your next employee event or luncheon? Or, rather than sourcing your paper and packaging needs online or from a big corporation, find your local supplier. Buy gift cards from nearby businesses to use as rewards and incentives.
You may have to get creative about how you spend your purchasing dollars, but every company can find ways to channel more money into local businesses that don’t have the deep pockets needed to survive such harsh times.
Donate to Local Organizations
Establish a fund to collect money from employees, customers, suppliers, partners and anyone you do business with. You can facilitate donations via your website. You can also contribute a portion of your sales revenues to the fund or organize an employee-run event.
Engage your employees by allowing them to decide both how to raise money and how to donate it. When employees are involved in decision-making, they feel more empowered and invested in the outcome. Plus, it removes the burden from company leaders to make all the choices.
According to Groundswell founder and CEO Jake Wood, “It can feel overwhelming as a company leader to know where to support. We know our employees have a wide range of causes they care deeply about, so why not directly support them? We want to democratize that decision and give it back to our employees. It’s a model we feel extremely passionate about.”
Groundswell took the idea a step further. “We’re gifting $150 per quarter to our employees into their own personal giving account to donate to whichever charity they want to support.”
Think beyond dollars. Your communities may have other needs. For example, perhaps the children from the local area need laptops, Wi-Fi services or school supplies. If you have a robust website, think about providing an online resource center to help community members find or exchange the things they need. The resource center is also a good way to determine which needs are going unmet.
If you don’t already do so, subscribe both online and off to your local newspapers. Make them available in your place of business for both employees and customers. Place a stack outside your entrance as a free service to the public. You can fight the trend toward misinformation and support your local news as well.
Provide Paid Time Off for Volunteering
Your company can provide human resource support to nonprofit companies by allowing employees to volunteer during the workday. The employees get paid and the nonprofit receives much-needed services. Since many volunteer activities take place during the workday, employees can volunteer without giving up their personal time off or sacrificing pay.
Sometimes companies determine which activities they will allow employees to do. But in many cases, the only requirement is to do good in the community. Whichever option you choose, it’s only a benefit if employees use it. Inform employees and support them when they take time to volunteer.
Demonstrate leadership by taking the initiative and forming alliances with other businesses. Together you can make a greater impact when you combine funds and resources. Such alliances allow you to accomplish more without taking on too great a burden. It’s a good business opportunity, as well, to network and find synergies and best practices with complementary companies. It pays to nurture relationships with other businesses.
Support Community Events
Make an extra effort to support community activities, from outdoor concerts to farmer’s markets to art gallery openings. Use your social media accounts to share word-of-mouth. Provide sponsorship with money, resources and facilities. This is an opportunity to attach your company’s name to the great things that are happening in your area. Even better, it’s a way to support local artisans and venues, stimulate the economy and generate community cohesion.
Despite the press generated around the Great Resignation, there are still plenty of families reeling from job loss and rising inflation. The good news is, that many are right there in your neighborhood. If you have positions to fill, don’t miss the opportunity to help. Seek out the underserved and overlooked populations (e.g., hourly workers) who are most affected by a return to the office amidst soaring gas prices.
Businesses Doing More
These are some of the most important ways that your business can support the community during the recession recovery. Of course, you’ll want to keep sponsoring the local baseball team and keep your active membership in the Chamber of Commerce during trying times. But to join the ranks of the most respected businesses in your community, the place where employees are proud to work, you’ll want to do more.
A corporate giving program is one of the best ways to support your community, demonstrate corporate philanthropy and foster a positive work culture. The Groundswell platform makes it easy to provide this coveted employee benefit. Contact us for more information.
10 Charitable Giving Ideas Based on Moments That Matter for Employees
If the business of HR is to manage — and enhance — the employee experience, an understanding of Moments That Matter (MTM) may be one of the most critical tools the HR professional can add to their repertoire. The HR world adopted the term from the customer relations department, which refers to the moments in a customer’s life when they are likely to make the decision to buy a product or service. In HR, it refers to the moments in an employee’s life, both professional and private, that can most influence their feelings about their job and their employer. There are many ways to employ a Moments That Matter approach to employee management, but there’s one that’s often overlooked — incorporating it into the company’s corporate giving strategy. Here’s why you should, and some ideas of how your company can do it.
Moments That Matter — What It Is and Why It Matters
The idea behind the MTM management philosophy is that there are certain moments in your employees’ lives that have an outsize impact on their work satisfaction and attitude toward the company. Some of them are fairly generic — the job interview, their first weeks on the job and promotions, for example. Others are more personal: an expectant parent, for instance, is likely to be influenced by how well — or poorly — HR helps them navigate the changes surrounding that milestone. Each of these experiences contributes to the overall employee experience with your company, and managing them well can play a big role in improving employee morale, job satisfaction, productivity and retention.
Which Moments Matter?
As suggested, the answer to that question can vary from employee to employee. There is, however, some agreement on the most common moments, and there are some suggestions for how to determine which moments actually matter the most to your employees. Gartner, Inc., an internationally respected HR consulting firm, lays out five types of moments that are likely to have the highest impact on employees in a recently published paper. They include moments that are:
Emotion-generating: like personal anniversaries and life milestones.
Scalable: have the potential to influence many employees.
Frequent: happen many times over the course of a day, week or month.
Business-aligned: moments that align with corporate strategy or culture.
Critical talent-aligned: impact a specific population with critical talents in the organization.
Understanding which moments matter to your employees can help you create policies and procedures that acknowledge those moments and respond to them in the most positive and beneficial ways. In order to do this, it’s vital that you equip your HR department with the tools to identify important moments and respond to them with empathy and clear guidance.
Corporate Philanthropy and Moments That Matter
More and more research shows that employees care about working for a company that aligns with their values. They want to work for a company that makes them proud, one that takes corporate responsibility seriously (CSR) and that supports — or empowers them to support — the causes that matter to them. Many employees are motivated by a company’s commitment to give back and are engaged by corporate giving strategies like donation matching, group volunteer efforts and community giveback days. When you incorporate MTM into your corporate giving strategy, you can exponentially increase the impact on both your employees and the causes they support.
10 Moments That Matter-Inspired Charitable Giving Ideas
If all of that explanation left you buzzing but still unsure how to combine it with your corporate giving strategy, here are 10 ways that you can use Moments That Matter to inspire, motivate and engage your employees.
1. Make Corporate Giving Part of Your Employee Benefits Package
The job interview is one of the first times your employee will have contact with the HR department. Use that moment to explain that corporate giving is part of your standard employee benefits package, and show them how you make it easier for them to support the causes that matter to them.
2. Celebrate Work Milestones With Charitable Donations
Instead of — or in addition to — recognizing work anniversaries or achievements with swag, offer a bonus donation to be made to the charity of their choice. If you’re using the Groundswell platform, it’s easy to simply add the appropriate amount to the employee’s giving account. You can even set it up as part of the policies that administer the program.
3. Use Data From Your Employee Donation Programs To Help Identify Moments That Matter
Many employee benefits management companies provide data and feedback to your company that can give you insight into what matters to your employees. Use that data to help identify giving trends and refine your program to make it more appealing.
4. Reward Team Milestones with a Giving Stipend
Sure, go ahead and have that pizza party for the team when QA checks off on their work, but why not give them something even more meaningful — add a little something to their charitable giving stipend. By giving them the power to support the causes they care about, you’re being doubly rewarding.
5. Recognize the Employee of the Month with the Opportunity to Make a Difference
It’s nice to get your picture in a place of honor when you’re voted Employee of the Month, but you can do better by giving your EOTM the chance to do more good. It’s easy to set up one-time additions to an employee’s giving fund based on their designation as a valued employee.
6. Give the Gift of Giving for Birthdays
Birthdays are a classic personal moment that matters — and many people celebrate by making a donation to charity. Even Facebook recognizes that — their Birthday Fundraiser feature is one of the platform’s most popular. Empower your employees to be more charitable on their birthdays by making a birthday donation part of their benefits package.
7. Mark Work Transitions with More Donating Power
Take the opportunity to recognize work transitions — the end of a probation period, a promotion to team leader, or moving to a new department — with a contribution to their giving fund. If the transition is a promotion or other permanent rise in the company structure, you can even make it a permanent increase in the company’s charitable giving program.
8. Celebrate Personal Milestones With a Contribution
There’s no better way to make employees feel valued than demonstrating that you notice — and care about — what’s happening in their lives. In addition to standard milestones, such as weddings or a new addition to the family, you can also celebrate their achievement of a new degree or certification, closing on a new house, or being recognized by a community organization.
9. Share the Celebration of Company Milestones
It’s common for businesses to mark milestones by making a donation to charity. Whether your company is celebrating Founder’s Day, recognizing their 1 millionth sale, or marking the awarding of a big contract, let your employees share in the festivities by making a contribution to their donor funds to distribute as they see fit.
10. Extend Your Annual Holiday Bonus
Add a little something extra to your holiday bonus program — an extra contribution to their employee giving fund. Many employees celebrate holidays with a donation to their favorite charities anyway. Why not empower them to give a little more?
How Groundswell Helps You Meet Moments That Matter to All of Your Employees
The right software program can make it easy for you to match moments that matter to the unique interests and needs of all of your employees. Designing a corporate giving program can be challenging, with many factors to consider and incorporate. Groundswell is designed to be inclusive, private, and empowering. By putting the power to give into the hands of each employee, the platform eliminates many barriers to giving that are inherent in traditional corporate match programs.
Employees can donate on their own timeline, rather than during a specified giving period.
There are no complicated forms to fill out and have approved.
Charities get their donations all at once rather than having to wait for the matching part of the donation.
Employees can give to the causes they support without worrying that their donations will expose parts of their private lives they’d rather not reveal. You can read more about how the Groundswell platform helps make employee giving more accessible and welcoming to everyone in the blog Is Your Donation Matching Program Inclusive and Equitable? Probably Not.
The simple interface makes it easy for your company to respond quickly to current events that have a wide cultural impact and provides a way for your company to be supportive to diverse groups among your employees.
Of course, your company can — and should — support your employees’ charitable efforts in other ways, as well. You can create moments that matter for your employees by, for example, sponsoring weekly, monthly, or annual team volunteer opportunities. The time spent building out playgrounds, repairing homes for seniors, and serving meals at a local food kitchen all have the potential to be part of the reason your employees feel that they matter, not only to your company, but to the community at large.
Moments That Matter is more than just a current HR trend. It reflects a long tradition in the HR field — one of philanthropy and benefit focused on employees and their needs. When your company recognizes the most impactful moments in the lives of its employees — and provides them with a way to recognize, celebrate and navigate them — you are strengthening the relationship between your employee, your company and the community. In short, everyone benefits. Learn how at Groundswell.
The Science of Giving: Why Do People Donate to Charity?
It’s easy enough to give away that old sofa stashed in the corner of your garage. But why do people donate to charity? What causes you, or anyone else, to send a $100 check to a foundation or spend an evening tutoring underserved youth?
We have dozens of sayings about giving. Do good and good things will happen to you. To whom much is given, much is expected. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. There’s more, but the point is that giving is a part of the human experience. Without a doubt, for many people, it seems the right thing to do. People give because it feels good to do so.
Americans are a particularly generous lot. In fact, 60% of us give money, 72% help strangers and 42% volunteer, often just because we are asked. And during the pandemic? Americans became even more generous. In 2020 and 2021, donations were higher than they were in 2019. The average donation per person was $574 in 2021.
What’s more, there are undeniable psychological and scientific benefits that make donating important to the human spirit and will keep people giving generously into the foreseeable future.
The Science of Giving: What Happens in the Brain
For Americans, there are plenty of opportunities to spend money which, researchers admit, provide a dopamine hit. So it can be tempting to think that we’re just a purchase away from nirvana. But the accumulation of things is not the type of spending that makes a difference in our lives or the lives of others. We get more bang for the buck, so to speak, when we give to others. That’s because giving has a positive impact on the brain. It makes sense that our brains would reward us for helping to preserve society, releasing the same types of feel-good chemicals as during exercise. It is one of the evolutionary traits that has helped us build prosperous civilizations.
In fact, in 2006, Jorge Moll and Jordan Grafman, neuroscientists at the National Institutes of Health, were able to measure the neural activity of giving, thus proving what we intuitively knew already. Subjects were allocated money that they could either keep for themselves or donate to selected charities. By tracking the impact on the pleasure centers of the brain, researchers discovered that the midbrain ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the subgenual area lit up when subjects donated the money. These are the same parts of the brain that light up when presented with a delicious meal or when talking about a romantic partner.
Why Do People Donate to Charity?
For years, there has been a philosophical discussion about whether or not charitable giving is altruistic. Do people give their money and donate their time just for the purpose of doing good, expecting nothing in return? Psychologists and philosophers argue that because charitable acts lead to feelings of happiness and satisfaction, true altruism does not exist.
But many people consider this argument flawed. When it comes to human behavior, there are many shades of gray. If a benefactor feels happier following an act of kindness, that doesn’t mean that the motivation is self-serving.
Altruism is a hallmark of cooperation. Cooperation underpins our society and is, in part, what separates humans from animals. Why do people donate? Because it feels good. Our society is built on the values of empathy, compassion and solidarity, among others. People give because doing so fosters a sense of belonging and generates meaning and purpose in their lives.
There are other good outcomes, as well.
Giving May Help Depression
It’s pretty obvious that giving makes people happier. Michael Norton, professor of psychology at Harvard and co-author of the book, “Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending,” agrees. “When we tell people ‘Hey, did you know that giving to other people can make you happy?’ Most people are not blown away. They’ve had experiences that make them happy. They understand the concept, but it doesn’t occur to us that often to give instead of getting stuff for ourselves.”
If you’re assuming that depression is not a major factor in your company, don’t be so sure. According to a July 2021 survey by SilverCloud Health, approximately two-thirds of U.S. workers suffer from clinical levels of depression or anxiety. Depression may mean that employees exhibit a high rate of absenteeism and fall short in key areas of performance, including decision-making, focus and communications. When an employee is depressed, it can have a devastating effect on the workplace.
Depression is generally accompanied by a decline in how an individual views themselves. It may seem intuitive for those suffering from depression to attempt to bolster their self-image by focusing on, for example, getting others to notice their positive qualities. But researchers found that goals centered around self-image will likely make matters worse.
Alternatively, they found that the pursuit of compassionate goals, that is, helping others, seems to alleviate the symptoms of depression and improve personal relationships. Perhaps that’s because helping others puts one’s own life into perspective and generates a more optimistic outlook.
Giving Increases Longevity
Charitable volunteering could even increase your lifespan. A classic study published in the Journal of Health Psychology concluded that elderly volunteers had a 44% lower mortality rate within the next five years after controlling for health habits, social support and other factors.
According to researchers, prosocial spending or spending money on other people (which includes charitable donations) can even lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation, both risk factors for a number of health conditions.
The Charitable Brain and Your Corporate Giving Programs
According to Michael Norton, automatic withdrawals may not be enough to engage your employees. “(Automatic withdrawals are) not going to have as big an impact on my life as if I’m thinking about who I’m giving to and why I’m giving to them and the impact that I’m having.”
When you understand how and why charitable giving makes people happy, you can leverage this information to make your corporate giving program one that will not only engage and delight your employees but accrue benefits to the company and to the broader society as well. The best programs align with corporate values and help employees establish habits that facilitate giving in a memorable and meaningful way.
Certainly, it makes sense for companies to implement programs that are easy to administer. But they must also ensure that employees are involved in selecting charities, auditing themselves, managing their giving targeting, tracking the good deeds of the non-profits and maybe even volunteering.
With a properly executed corporate giving program, companies can realize the many benefits that such a plan has to offer to its employees and to the communities it serves. At Groundswell, we can help you give your corporate giving program a whole new look and feel and make it a pillar of your compensation system. Contact us for more information.