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Employee Recognition

Uncovering the Power of Corporate Philanthropy: Building purpose-driven employee engagement

corporate philanthropy

Happy National Volunteer Month! In Canada, the theme for this year is “Volunteering Weaves us Together”.

“Through volunteering we experience interconnectedness, making our lives more meaningful. Getting involved in various ways, we find friendship, develop trust, and link our relationships. Threading these connections, we come to belong as we contribute towards the same goals.

Like each individual thread makes weaving stronger, every volunteer’s experience, perspective, and abilities add to our collective resilience. Woven together from coast to coast to coast, volunteering reinforces our ability to grow, thrive, and create change within our community, province, and country.”

– Volunteer Canada

For many people, giving back to their communities is an important part of their lives and helps them feel fulfilled. 

  • In 2021, Americans gave $484.85 billion
  • 82% of consumers prefer companies that support and donate to charities. 
  • 88% of millennials say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues.
corporate philanthropy

We see this sentiment reflected at Bucketlist Rewards; it’s common for our end users to redeem their Bucketlist points as donations to their favourite charities! 

Supporting employee interests is a great way to build and maintain an engaging workplace culture. As an employer, supporting passions that people have outside of work shows that you value your team as whole people. Corporate philanthropy is also a great opportunity for team members to connect with each other to build meaningful relationships. 

To dive a little deeper into this topic of social impact in company culture, we interviewed our friends at Kambeo to hear their thoughts and experiences around this. We’re excited to share their insights on how incorporating social impact into culture frameworks is an effective strategy to build employee engagement.

1 – Tell us a bit about Kambeo! What’s your mission? 

Danielle (Kambeo): The initial idea for Kambeo came to be in July 2015. The goal was to build a platform that could seamlessly connect people in the community who wanted to help those who needed help. 

The original concept was focused on connecting youth to the community for paid work, but we quickly found that volunteering was a better initial use case. As a result, our Co-founder & CPO, Chris McIntosh, began building out a social impact platform to connect businesses, nonprofits, and individuals looking to make a positive social impact.

Our mission at Kambeo is to change the way people change the world. The end goal has always been ambitious, but we believe that people inherently want to do good and make the world a better place. However, many people – and businesses for that matter – just don’t know where to begin. Our goal with Kambeo is to help them get started! 

Maddie (Bucketlist): I really like the idea of changing the way people change the world. I’m sure many of us wish that there was more time or money that we could give to charities and philanthropic causes, but find it difficult to do so with our daily routine and current budget. I’m excited to hear more about how Kambeo helps people tackle these challenges to feel more able to participate! 

2 – How can social impact initiatives help drive employee engagement? Why should employers care about social impact initiatives? 

Danielle (Kambeo): When employees participate in an organization’s social impact initiatives, such as donating, fundraising, and volunteering, it makes them feel more connected to their colleagues and employer. These initiatives are another way to drive employee engagement.  

By volunteering or fundraising together, employees are able to form deeper personal relationships with their colleagues as they work towards a common goal. Additionally, an employee will feel closely connected to their employer because they can live out their personal values by engaging in philanthropic work supported by their employer.

And when employees are engaged, they are 87% less likely to leave their current employer.  

Maddie (Bucketlist): The idea of building human connections is so important in today’s workplace. There are lots of different ways to bring people together for team bonding events. Volunteering or attending a philanthropic event together is such an awesome one – it’s a great way to mix things up in the company event calendar. And even if your team is distributed, we’ve seen people go volunteering together in groups in their hubs! 

3 – In your experience, how do employees feel about charitable giving and corporate philanthropy? 

Danielle (Kambeo): Employees value giving back because they feel like they have a sense of purpose beyond their day jobs. A purpose where they can lend their time and talents to causes that are most meaningful to them. Whether that be through making a donation, participating in a volunteer day run by their company, or organizing their own third-party fundraiser, we have found that employees want to be involved in social change.  

Maddie (Bucketlist): Totally! I think people are extremely purpose-driven. In fact, recent studies show that the younger generations in the workforce tend to prioritize purpose over salary.

Recently, one of our clients put on a “10 days of giving” campaign to celebrate their 10 year anniversary. Bucketlist point redemptions had been slower over the winter months as people saved up their points for rewards to use in the summer. But as soon as this campaign was put out, the team saw a spike in redemption engagement as people made donations to the charities. It was awesome to see!

4 – How do you see meaningful relationships being built between team members through social impact initiatives? 

Danielle (Kambeo): One popular social impact initiative that builds strong bonds between employees is peer-to-peer fundraising. This type of fundraising enables a group of employees to raise money together on behalf of a nonprofit or charity they are all passionate about supporting. 

As part of a welcoming and supportive team environment, a team fundraising page is created to facilitate donations and raise awareness. Deciding on a fundraising goal, providing a description of the cause, and designing the fundraising page are among a few elements where employees can work together beyond the bounds of their day-to-day jobs to form tight-knit relationships.  

The peer-to-peer fundraiser also creates some fun competition and allows employees to get creative in how they raise money—think of the ice bucket challenge from years ago!

Maddie (Bucketlist): We love that Kambeo taps into the power of peer-to-peer engagement! It’s such an empowering tool that really enables people to participate and support one another. At Bucketlist, clients who enable peer-to-peer recognition see 57% more engagement with the platform. So I definitely can see how peer-to-peer fundraising can help build relationships and have a strong impact!

5 – What’s a great first step to incorporating social impact into your workplace culture?

Danielle (Kambeo): The first step to incorporating social impact into workplace culture is finding causes to connect people with. However, no social impact program would be successful without the input of your employees. It is essential to ask them which types of causes they would like to see your organization support. Remember, the more nonprofits and charities that tailor to their interests, the more likely employee participation rates will increase and social impact results will improve.

Once causes are selected, you can execute social impact initiatives on behalf of these causes while enlisting the help of your employees. For example, your organization can easily set up a volunteer event on the Kambeo platform on behalf of a charity or nonprofit, such as The United Way, and invite your employees to participate. 

Maddie (Bucketlist): I agree, it’s so important to ask people what would be the most meaningful initiative for them! There are so many charities and philanthropic opportunities available, it would be hard to narrow it down to the ones people would want to participate in the most. 

I’d love to add another great idea on incorporating social impact: through employee rewards. As an example, many of our clients allow their employees to redeem their Bucketlist Reward points for donations to charities of their choice. We’ve also seen people feature various charities throughout the year to provide people with an opportunity to spend their rewards in a way most meaningful to them.  

6 – How do rewards and recognition play a role in a company’s social impact program?

Danielle (Kambeo): Donation matching and volunteer dollars-for-doers are two tactics employers can utilize to reward and recognize their employees for the social good they are striving to accomplish. 

Donation matching is just as it sounds, rewarding an employee by matching their donation (or doubling it). For example, if an employee gives $50 to the United Way, an employer will also make a $50 donation—making it $100 that gets donated directly to the charity! 

Volunteer dollars-for-doers rewards and recognizes employees who have invested a certain number of hours volunteering out in the community. For example, an employer will set a corporate philanthropy award with a fixed number of volunteer hours an employee must complete to qualify. Every employee who reaches that volunteering requirement will be rewarded with a gift card or funds to donate back to that charity. 

Maddie (Bucketlist): These are such great ideas! Donation matching is such a great way to show that an employer is genuinely interested in the things that their team is passionate about. Overall, offering opportunities to do social good as an aspect of your employee rewards program is such a powerful thing. 

7 – What is the ROI around implementing social impact initiatives in the workplace? What are the benefits you’ve seen? 

Danielle (Kambeo): Companies can spend all their time and effort stating their core values. But for values to have meaning and significance to an organization’s employees, customers, and investors, they must be demonstrated. 

Social impact initiatives provide a way for a company to live out its values. If an organization states it values empathy, this value can be demonstrated through the volunteer work, fundraising, and donations they make. When values are routinely demonstrated, this increases a brand’s reputation. Employees, customers, and investors (both current and prospective ones) view a brand as more credible and trustworthy; therefore, being more likely to want to purchase from, work for, or invest in that company. 

Beyond value demonstration though, doing good has been proven to be good for businesses as well.  77% of consumers are motivated to purchase from companies committed to making the world a better place.  And it’s not just customers that are looking to support companies that are making a positive social impact—employees are also motivated to work for companies that have a purpose beyond just making a profit. In fact, 88% of employees say working for a company with a strong purpose is now more important than ever.   

Therefore, the ROI of social impact initiatives in the workplace can be massive—both from reaching customers who are conscious consumers and by attracting and retaining talent in the workplace. 

Maddie (Bucketlist): Absolutely! Core values are such an important guide that tells us what’s important to the business and what behaviours are desired. In a study by Lucidity, they noted that the top five most common company core values are often related to teamwork, customer-satisfaction, respect, integrity, and passion. These are all values that can be demonstrated – as you mentioned – through working together on social impact initiatives. 

Thank you for sharing, Danielle! 

Wrapping up

Corporate philanthropy

Giving back to the community is definitely something that has a huge impact on everyone involved. In a corporate setting, social impact initiatives are something that can play a significant role in building an engaging culture. 

“We always receive several charitable donation redemptions through the Bucketlist platform. It’s really great to see the team’s support towards philanthropic organizations!” 

Fiona Sityar, Director of Human Resource at Highlight Technologies

Whether it’s through a platform like Bucketlist Rewards or Kambeo, or your own program, there are many ways for companies to get involved and engage their employees through the power of social good! 

Interested in incorporating the power of social impact into your company’s culture? With Kambeo’s robust social impact platform, enable your employees to explore charitable giving opportunities with local and global nonprofits, create your own company-wide volunteer events & fundraisers, and track the collective impact of these efforts through real-time metrics.

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