A gathering of do-gooders
How much Goodness can you fit into just three days?
We found out at Benevity’s annual User Conference, Goodness Matters 2016, held at the Omni Hotel in San Diego from Feb. 24-26. The conference brought together clients, industry experts, nonprofit leaders and the Benevity team for an event jam-packed with information and inspiration. From plenaries to panels to breakouts, we heard success stories from corporate givers, trends in corporate responsibility and ideas to advance Goodness in the world at large. We came away more convinced than ever that we, as companies and individuals, can make Goodness matter even more. Summarizing everything we talked about would take much longer than we have, so here are the highlights!
Top 5 takeaways
1. Program convergence is a key to bigger overall impact
Leela Stake, FleishmanHillard, SVP & Chair Corporate Responsibility & Global Impact; Penny Zuckerwise, Guggenheim Partners, Founding Head of Corporate Social Responsibility; Nicole Campbell, Benevity, Principal Goodness Consulting
As Goodness kicks into high gear, it’s smart to find ways to get the most impact from your program without necessarily spending more or growing your team. One way to do that is through program convergence: that is to say, bringing programs and teams together for a more strategic and synergistic approach.
For instance, giving and volunteering and grants programs don’t need to operate in silos. In fact, integrating Goodness with other areas of your business is a win-win because it allows for substantial gains across the board: broader communication, increased awareness both internally and externally, share of budget and deeper employee engagement, all resulting in bigger impact (and ultimately, more budget). Try integrating with these teams across your organization in your quest for bigger and better social and business impact:
- Sustainability: Do you have a team that organizes green campaigns? Work with them to get employees engaged in initiatives that matter to them through giving and volunteering. One idea – plan a team event to raise money for a green cause with volunteers acting as environmental ambassadors.
- Grants: If your philanthropic budget separates grants from other types of giving, you can get creative with your approach by re-directing a portion of your grants budget to matching (i.e. create a giving opportunity for the grantee organization and offer compelling matching to the amount of the grant budget). The upside is greater participation in your program, engagement/awareness among your people and overall philanthropic impact.
- Health and Wellness: By partnering with health and wellness teams, you can raise awareness for important causes by calling for action through giving, volunteering, and related actions. Think about starting a little friendly competition: create teams that compete against each other for fundraising goals for a non-profit like the Heart & Stroke Foundation or Mental Health America. The challenge will drive participation and help your people rise to the occasion.
- Communications: Connecting with the people who know how to reach your people makes a lot of sense. Can you communicate your giving and volunteering campaigns on your company’s intranet? Can you collaborate to develop a hashtag for your company’s Goodness efforts? Encouraging your people to use the hashtag across social networks will grow awareness for your program organically and in an authentic way.
- Professional Development: Volunteer opportunities can double as professional growth opportunities. Budding executives may find a home on a Board, engineers may use their technical skills to help charities evolve, etc.; there’s a fit for all levels of employees in skills-based volunteer roles. Try running a pro-bono program with a partner charity – employees’ skills will be enhanced and engagement will soar!
2. Today’s diverse workforce requires a clever engagement strategy
The workforce is more diverse than it’s ever been. We’re seeing generational differences from boomers to millennials, a unique blend of skill sets and abilities, and people who are spread more widely across cultures and geography than ever. With all of these differences, it can be a challenge to engage everyone in Goodness opportunities, but the pros are starting to work toward a frictionless experience with a healthy dose of creativity and strategy. Is there pro-bono work you can organize that involves skills from workers all across your organization, from manual labourers to the C-suite? Can you engage volunteer champions in different cities to lead localized programs and projects? Are you using a technology solution that converts languages and currencies and makes it easy to give anytime, anywhere, to any cause in the world? These are just some ways you can make Goodness more accessible for all, creating a more inclusive culture and, in turn, attracting a diverse talent pool.
3. International giving is growing
Andy Howell, Benevity, COO; Dave Sciuk, Benevity, VP Business Development; Sheila Warren, TechSoup Global, VP Strategic Alliances & General Counsel; Diane Solinger, Google, Global Lead GooglersGive
If you didn’t get the memo, Goodness is going global! International giving is on the rise, and so engaging your workforce around the world is becoming increasingly important. People should be able to give to the causes that are close to their heart, across and beyond borders, and companies are picking up –corporate programs are expanding to include international opportunities and cross-border giving of time, money, talent and product.
“It’s vital for these programs to not only reach employees in all corners of the world, but also to provide a substantially similar but culturally relevant experience for every employee,” said Benevity’s VP of Business Development, Dave Sciuk, during a panel discussion on international giving.
The importance of this international-yet-egalitarian approach was also supported by Diane Solinger, Google’s Global Lead of GooglersGive. Google has a broad employee base with 60k people in 100 offices in 50 countries around the world. With roughly half of Google’s people outside the U.S., Diane sees this as an opportunity to drive more participation in the overall GooglersGive program.
For a company to make giving and volunteering accessible to all employees in every country they do business in, sophisticated solutions are needed. Properly vetting and onboarding international charities on your own can be a time-consuming process laden with nuances, legalities and tax regulations. Providing an excellent international user experience is critical, meaning localization needs to occur for languages, time zones and currencies worldwide. The obvious choice is a solution like Benevity’s that can manage international giving and volunteering in an intuitive way. If you’ve been waiting for the right time to roll out an international program, that time is now!
4. Volunteer programs are opportunities for transformation
Having a great volunteer program, with frictionless incentives to get involved, is an employee engagement opportunity that can’t be ignored. 80% of companies offer volunteering and 89% see a positive correlation between volunteer participation and overall employee engagement. We’re seeing volunteer events move beyond traditional corporate-sponsored events to truly transformative experiences for employees that enrich their lives. Want to enhance the corporate volunteering experience for people? Give them the opportunity to talk to the nonprofits they’re supporting to learn about the impact they’re having, or encourage them to bring along peers.
Janelle Saunders & Christa Denton, Benevity, volunteering evangelists
If you’re wondering how to get people on board with volunteering, it’s worth digging deep and finding out what motivates them so you can tailor your programs and see better outcomes. In a presentation that explored ways to drive employee engagement with volunteerism, our presenters focused on motivation. For instance, if your workplace is dominated by millennials, give them opportunities to take ownership of volunteer events, and make sure team events are in place. This generation likes working side-by-side. As an added bonus, people who volunteer time also tend to give more money (and vice-versa!).
5. Measurement matters
The Goodness Matters audience
To demonstrate the impact of your program and garner more support for it, you need to know which measurements make a difference. Today, we have more data available to us than ever, but how do you take that raw data and turn it into information and insights that really drive positive impacts? Some ideas are to look at trends; How many people are participating in giving opportunities? How many people are tracking volunteer time? How did a change in reward or removal of a threshold impact results? How many people are engaged in volunteer opportunities – and how does this stack up against your goals? If there’s a mismatch, there are ways to positively influence these metrics. Some recommendations might be to adjust your matching rate/cap, implement payroll or add volunteer rewards, remove minimums and other restrictions, unify tools, etc., all of which will help drive uptake. Qualitative data is important too – even something as simple as a good quote from an employee can help prove how impactful your program is. The strongest programs have implicit business value, including deeper employee engagement and the lowest cost of recruitment and churn, so it’s worth it to make the investment in building them up.
Guest speakers shared unique perspectives on issues and opportunities in Goodness
Dan Pallotta, guest speaker & Bryan de Lottinville, CEO, Benevity
Dan Pallotta delivered a spellbinding presentation, asserting that misconceptions exist in the charity space. We’re taught to think that low overhead costs in the non-profit sector are a good thing because it means more money is going to causes we want to advance. Not necessarily so! Putting more money into overhead can, in fact, scale impact.
The bottom line: don’t ask if a charity has low overhead; ask if it has big impact!
Jonah Sachs shared eye-opening thoughts on how storytelling can influence desired outcomes from others. What we learned is that making our donors feels like heroes in our brand story goes a long way to inspiring action and engagement. Extend storytelling into how you compel people to participate in your programs and you may just see engagement skyrocket. And maybe more importantly, you can even employ storytelling techniques (with your people as the heroes) to pull at C-level heartstrings and develop more overall understanding and support for your Goodness Programs inside and outside your company.
Jocelyne Daw shared thought-provoking stories, facts and tips on how to develop meaningful relationships with charities, explaining that “extraordinary change requires extraordinary relationships.” Partnerships should be shared value – meaning that they drive real social change and business impact. If it sounds daunting to create all-new partnerships, Jocelyne suggests evaluating your existing charity partners and see where there’s an opportunity to deepen relationships. If you typically volunteer with an organization, for instance, can you go beyond that and create a richer experience through giving? If you already give, can you provide an increase in your donation match rate?
The Benevity Nonprofit Community Council is taking on the world
While we were collaborating on all things Goodness, the conference was the perfect place to host the inaugural meeting of our newly-formed Benevity Nonprofit Community Council. The Council was formed to help evaluate the charitable landscape and identify trends and opportunities that can impact the way companies and individuals give back to causes they care about. First thing at the User Conference, our council started tackling some of the biggest challenges in fundraising, volunteering, technology and donor engagement, and importantly, how Benevity can evolve its products and process to increase the value proposition for recipient charities.
Where to now?
Goodness Matters attendees
Clearly, the world of corporate philanthropy is evolving, and we all came away from the conference re-energized to get out there in the world and do more Good!
Take a look at what everyone had to say about the conference on Twitter with #GoodnessMatters.