Manual Is Not Magnificent: How and Why Online Workplace Giving Increases the Metrics that Matter

September 14, 2011 benevity


Many (if not most!) existing workplace giving models have one or more manual components that make it difficult from a resource management perspective to self-administer any kind of program that is likely to succeed – especially if you don’t have an army of community investment personnel. (And let’s be clear about technology solutions: an online pledge form does not automate workplace giving. It’s time to move beyond once a year “set and forget” digital pledge forms!)

Manual processes mean time-lags, paper forms (either all the way or somewhere along the line), huge resource costs, inflexible programs and a general PITA. And outsourcing a (fully or partially) manual workplace giving program may alleviate the administrative burden – but it will be costly! Wouldn’t that money be better spent on promotion and social programs?

In a world where people live much of their lives online, where most people bank online, buy online and even socialize online, employees are less likely to take part in a manual or clunky online process; one where the paperwork pain factor taxes their motivation to give. Consider this: outside of work (and maybe even sometimes at work – people are online: they’re using Facebook, booking travel online, buying custom running shoes from; making recommendations on Zappos and Yelp and, all in all, enjoying personalized, interactive experiences online…on their computers and increasingly, and especially for Millennials, on their mobile phones. Now they come to work and they are given a once-a-year option to participate in a workplace giving campaign via a digital pledge form (set and forget) or perhaps a paper form. And on the volunteerism front, there are sadly, often, huge hoops to jump through and a ton of paperwork to tackle to get a grant to their chosen charity. How exciting is that? And how likely are people to participate?

And if people don’t participate, then the corporate goals of employee engagement are pretty hard to achieve. Companies using Web 2.0 tools achieved 18% increase in engagement versus 1% among those that didn’t (see more great related stats from a post called “Social Knows: Employee Engagement Statistics” from the Social Workplace blog at

Even if you do have or pay for the required army of folks, manual processes are costly, error-prone, and make it difficult to accommodate flexibility or choice in execution. So when considering how to get the most out of your workplace giving programs, think about how you can make employee charitable giving and volunteering easy for your employees and administrators alike.

It needs to be extremely easy to use, highly visual, and provide more to employees than just a “digitized” pledge form that they set once a year and forget. Bring the same experience people have on the web to online workplace giving: personal accounts, empowered choices about where, how and how much to give, easy and interactive communication and an online interface that is current. Replicating the experience most users have in all other of their online interactions is a great way to increase attention and takeup for employee giving and volunteering. And it can help your company create a culture of giving and move the needle on employee engagement.

Be sure to also address the importance of volunteering as a mode of employee giving. Consider the best solution to encourage employee participation: think about things like easy, online ways to promote corporately-sponsored, partner and community volunteering opportunities to employees, the capability to create “campaigns” for volunteering opportunities, the ability for employees to easily select, plan and track their volunteering participation (including the ability to track hours via their mobile devices) and the ability for your company to easily reward participants with donation currency and generate reports on the metrics that matter.

The good news is, when it comes to new, automated approaches to workplace giving, technology is your friend: there are new approaches that can automate entire programs, greatly reducing your administrative requirements and costs.



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