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Invite employees to be a part of your corporate philanthropy program

August 11, 2011

Corporate philanthropy can go well beyond sending a company check. While donations are always appreciated, companies are finding that an employee volunteer program can be a powerful companion strategy for their corporate giving program.

Busy executives worry about taking on yet another initiative. But they shouldn’t. There are employees in your organization who will be the drivers behind the program. You just need to find them and empower them to take the lead.

A great way to do that is to start with an employee survey. You have an overarching corporate philanthropy program in place. Adding an employee engagement program starts by knowing what –within your focus area – employees can get excited about. Ask them.

Get them engaged by asking their opinion

An employee survey allows you to hear the opinions and get buy-in from employees. What causes are you employees interested in? How they would like to be involved in those programs? What ways can your team give back?

Our favorite approach is a quick online survey. Whatever tool you use, you can ask both open ended questions using a comment box, and you can give employees a series of options to narrow their selection to a few top choices. Plus, you can invite employees to volunteer. Those who volunteer are your starting team.

With the survey results in hand, get that volunteer team together for a strategy session. You have a direction and need to figure out how to get things moving. You need a plan with some goals and a timeline.

Based on that plan, you can engage employees in a program that builds teams, enhances morale, and helps you attract and retain great employees – all while you contribute something of value to the community.

Your program might include an employee day-off program where everyone is supported in taking a day to volunteer with a local nonprofit. You might take on a done-in-a-day project where you go as a team to clean up, rebuild or restore. You might host an event to collect items or funds for a cause you all agree to. It will look different for each organization and that’s why the benefits are great. The program supports your unique team and culture.

Today, writing a check is just the first step for a company to give back to their community. While it’s still essential to give financially, another big piece of the puzzle is employee engagement.

Let us know: What would be helpful for your organization to learn how to collaborate more effectively?

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Strategies for Internalizing CSR

February 24, 2011

For companies operating in diverse global communities, CSR is both challenging and exciting.  It’s challenging in that there will never be enough resources to meet the enormity of the needs. In turn, it’s exciting because partnerships can be formed to leverage contributions and engage the heart of your employees. Leveraging is maximized by working across business and department lines to engage the entire enterprise.

 

What does it mean to internalize CSR?

The number one reason I’ve seen companies fail at maximizing community impact is because they did not invest in learning and valuing where its business and societal interests overlap.  Businesses feel a pressure that they are expected to find a solution for many of the world’s environmental and societal problems. While it is becoming increasingly important to customers, it’s unrealistic to think your business can be everything to everyone; that’s where a strategic focus in tying the businesses intellectual capital with financial contributions comes into play.

 

How can your business internalize CSR?  

 Bring in an expert

An objective 360 degree assessment of your company’s current reality will give you new insights to guide your community investment goals. An expert will be able to identify your company’s strengths and build a community investment blueprint that connects the core of your business to an overarching need that exists in the communities where your employees live and work.

Develop sound partnerships

To maintain a strong community presence in key markets, align with similarly minded business, nonprofit and government entities that support your company’s community investment vision. You may run into some constraints depending on the unique needs of each community, and if you have a partner with similar invested interests, you’ll have greater resources (both human and financial)  to address unforeseen challenges.

Build a “creative trust

Think of CSR as an evolving effort. Once you have a strategic community investment plan in place, there is no rule that you cannot adjust and refine your practices. The experience of every employee involved in carrying out a responsibility to meet the plan’s objectives will be different. Establish a process for gathering employee and other stakeholder’s feedback. If you truly internalize CSR and value the feedback, new ideas will begin to flourish and a broad-based sense of ownership will prevail.  This will help you sustain your efforts despite the constant changing political, economic and social environments in diverse global communities.

 

Communicate, communicate, communicate

Any CSR plan is incomplete without an effective communication plan. Your communication strategies should consider your internal and external audiences. Highlight the programs strengths and accomplishments. Develop communication strategies for reaching your various stakeholders and employees to earn their support and increased engagement. Creating and executing a communications plan is equally as important as the process that goes into developing a CSR plan. Without effective communication, your corporate social responsibility will fall short of building your brand to help you meet business objectives.

 –Jean Galloway

Companies Can Give More When They Have Less

January 6, 2011

A company’s generosity is often  judged by a dollar figure associated with its community investment. Reflecting on the best and worst of corporate giving in 2010, CSR experts found that companies who made the “best’ list were actually those who were more generous and effective with a non-financial based committment.  Target’s  $150,000 donation to Minnesota Forward made the “bad” list. Now there’s an example of a thoughtless, not strategic financial gift that caused more harm than good. This goes to show that it’s not about the money. You can’t buy reputational capital, you have to earn it by doing something.

For instance, take a look at Microsoft’s move to train out-of-work people in technology skills. Rather than sticking to cash contributions, Microsoft recognized that they had something more to offer. In this economy, companies are struggling for cash, but that doesn’t mean they can’t give back. The silver lining in having less money to give is that it forces you to think outside the box and sometimes this will lead you to a corporate giving strategy that is more effective than writing the big check.

Every company–no matter what size— has something to offer the community. Maybe you’re just not sure what it is. This year challenge yourself to find that something more that will reward your employees and the community you depend on to further your mission.

How Will Your Company Win in 2011 When it Comes to Community Investment?

January 3, 2011

What do you want to be known for in 2011 and beyond? How can you tie your community investment back to your business objectives? If you want to be in the business of doing good you need to clarify who you are targeting, what you are doing, and how you will do it. Otherwise how will your corporate philanthropy differentiate from that of your competitors?

1. Focus on what is important to your employees, customers and key stakeholders.

Humana is in the business of providing health insurance. In this business they recognize their unique opportunity and responsibility to help citizens in their community live healthier lives. Humana has made a transparent decision to focus on improving consumer health because it is important to the community it serves .

2. Maximize your impact by engaging partners in the public and nonprofit sectors to leverage mutual commitments to causes.

Last year, Great-West launched Great-West Great-Teachers, an initiative designed to provide teachers with the resources needed to give their students a well-rounded financial education. Through a partnership with Colorado Jump$start Coalition, Great-West was able to leverage the organization’s expertise and make their financial education curriculum more available to teachers who wouldn’t otherwise have access.

3. Have a plan to see your commitment through.

There is never a shortage of need in the community and as an executive with budget making authority it is easy to make an emotional decision about where to give back. But do you understand how the business’ commitment affects employees? Are you really reaching your target market? Are you really able to make a long-term impact?

 Cheers to you for a healthy and  prosperous new year!

Colorado Gives Day Raises Over $8 Million for Colorado Charities

December 14, 2010

 On December 8, Coloradans showed  astounding  support for local charities. Together donors from across the state contributed over $8 million in 24 hours as part of Community First Foundation’s first-ever Colorado Gives Day.  Individual contributions were received over a 24-hour period – 12 a.m. to 11:59 p.m Wednesday, December 8 – at GivingFirst.org, the Foundation’s online giving and research tool. Gifts ranged from the $10 to $500,000, the most common gift being a donation of $100.

 Part of the power of Colorado Gives Day is the way the program brings the nonprofit community together as supporting partners for a 24 hour period of giving. Galloway Group is proud to have played a role in bringing FirstBank and Community First Foundation together to execute the Foundation’s big idea to devote one day to online giving to increase engagement and awareness of our state’s nonprofit organizations. Colorado Gives Day was beyond successful because of the true collaboration that took place between charities, donors and businesses.

 Over the 24-hours more than 18,700 donations came in to nearly every one of more than 500 nonprofits. There were some significant contributions made to children’s organizations such as Tennyson Center, Advocates 4 Children and Teen Challenge.  The largest number of donors contributed to Denver Rescue Mission, Food Bank of the Rockies and the Jeffco Action Center.  One donor contributed over $78,000 to 8 different charities and one individual donated to 30 different charities. 

 It is amazing to see the community come together in a way it never has before. As we head into the new year, we feel inspired and ready to build on this momentum and keep our fingers on the philanthropic pulse that keeps this community thriving.

 Cheers!

The Galloway Group team

Coming Together to Make History on Colorado Gives Day

December 9, 2010

 Today it feels like the 2008 elections all over again, only this time there’s no race to win. On Colorado Gives Day, we’re all winners! Forgive the cheesy line, but it really holds true for this unprecedented effort to raise $1 million in one day for Colorado charities. Community First Foundation is responsible for getting the community “fired up” to give today because with the help of FirstBank, all gifts made through GivingFirst.org are given a boost from an incentive fund and 100% of every donation goes to charity. Donors have logged on today to give as little or as much as they can to over 530 nonprofits. Together, we have raised over $5 million –far exceeding the $1 million goal. Galloway Group is so proud to be a part of this effort. This is a fine example of how much you can accomplish when businesses,  nonprofits and individuals all come together  for a philanthropic purpose.

Jeremy Bloom (Wish of a Lifetime Foundation), Marla Williams (President & CEO of Community First Foundation), Brian Griese (Judi's House), and Dave Logan (850 KOA) all gathered at the Colorado Gives Day launch party at the 1sBANK Center on the eve of Colorado Gives Day

Your business is already a leader in corporate social engagement

November 22, 2010

No one can predict exactly what will happen in the future, but your business will have a strategy to ensure that its community investment in 2011 and beyond creates value in the short and long-term for both your business and society at large.

A Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) report, Shaping the Future: Solving Social Problems through Business Strategy, based on research by McKinsey & Company, captures new perspectives on corporate social responsibility

Your business is known for the value it brings to the community because you have invested in becoming a part of the solution.

“proactive engagement is no longer optional for today’s businesses. To avoid a vicious circle of regulation and mistrust in business, it is imperative that companies become part of the solution, because now more than ever, the health of society and that of business are inextricably linked.”– Chronicle of Philanthropy

You understand the long-term view of profitability.

 “Companies should take a leadership role on issues where they can create shared value, value for both the shareholder and society at large,” Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chairman of Nestlé S.A. said at a CECP CEO Conference in London in May 2010.

You are already a leader in corporate social engagement. As we get ready to enter a new year, have you thought about how your strategy will keep you in that position?