The key to engagement is to keep the excitement of the launch (or re-launch or new communication plan, as the case may be) going. Once the ERF is up and running, you have the opportunity to talk about *real* scenarios in which the company supported employees and you can recognize employees who have become ambassadors for the program - much like any other workplace giving effort.
Think retention and recognition. To retain employees as donors, they have to feel that their gifts are being well-used and in line with the goals of the ERF. Tell the real stories - use grant recipients’ names if they agree or conceal identities if they don’t. With these, the company is proving its commitment to the ERF and employees will follow.
Giving incentives can’t hurt either. There can be escalating incentives for each consecutive year an individual or team gives. If your employees like competition, create one for them around fundraising for the ERF. You can use your social media and your intranet sites to keep track of how each department, location, business unit or other team is doing in the competition.
LBG Associates’ research has shown that recognition is important to retaining participation as well as raising the profile of the giving program as a whole. Recognition doesn’t have to be elaborate. Over the years that LBG Associates has been working with companies on recognition, we’ve learned that employees really respond to personal thank yous and internal news stories about exemplary givers or the results of team competitions.
Because an ERF is funded by and for the benefit of employees, personal thank you notes can go a long way. A note from a recipient of an ERF grant, even if anonymous, really makes the employee donors feel good about contributing to the fund. That personal connection creates engagement!
To create further engagement with the ERF, consider if there is an appropriate way for employees to get involved beyond fundraising. Do employees have a place on an advisory committee? Or the grant committee? Perhaps you can support employees who want to volunteer to help other employees affected by disaster. If it’s safe, you can send employee teams to clean up and repair homes affected by a natural disaster. Or provide rides to doctors or hospitals for ill employees or caregiver relief for employees dealing with sick family members. Employee privacy is of the utmost importance, but if everyone agrees to disclosure, there shouldn’t be a problem.
We’d love to hear what you find is creating engagement with your ERF. Let us know in the comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda B. Gornitsky, Ph.D.
President, LBG Associates
BLOG SERIES: For a Successful Employee Relief Fund, Think Engagement, Not Just Participation.
Dr. Gornitsky is president and founder of LBG Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in the development and implementation of strategic CSR, corporate citizenship and employee engagement programs. Her firm also conducts benchmarking, community attitude and evaluation studies, creates image-building/communications campaigns and identifies efficient management practices.
Prior to establishing LBG Associates in 1995, Dr. Gornitsky directed a variety of corporate communications programs, developed strategic contributions programs, managed contributions, public issues and public affairs departments and identified new management directions. She developed and managed strategic contributions programs for Citibank and Pfizer.
Dr. Gornitsky publishes on various aspects of corporate citizenship and has completed over 15 groundbreaking studies on subjects such as volunteerism, the environment, disaster relief and diversity. The most recent ones are on pro bono volunteerism (2018, 2016), global employee engagement (2014), and the building blocks of a successful volunteer program (2012).
Dr. Gornitsky is an adjunct professor at NYU, where she teaches classes on strategic philanthropy/volunteerism, and was a faculty member at the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College.
Dr. Gornitsky is president of LBG Research Institute, a CSR think tank, and on the boards of Skokie Jewish Family Service and UJF in Stamford, CT. She helped found and was on the board of Autism360. She was honored for her volunteer activities in 2007, 2016 and 2017.
Dr. Gornitsky earned her Ph.D. in Environmental Psychology at City University of New York. She also holds a Master of Philosophy, Master of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees, all in psychology.