CAF America Insider Blog

Four Trends Dramatically Reshaping Corporate Philanthropy

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Don’t Just Do Good Things. Do the RIGHT Good Things.

You see it: The need for corporate philanthropy is skyrocketing. Worthy, urgent causes appear literally overnight. And enterprises like yours are responding in a big way, generating positive impact for a host of beneficiaries via grantmaking, employee donations and volunteer programs.

But today it’s no longer enough to simply put programs in place and then to contribute X number of dollars or volunteer hours. We must direct dollars and resources strategically:

    1. to where they’ll do the most good, and
    2. in a way that aligns with your organization’s missions and values

How do you do it? By achieving Agile Social Impact. Tightly align your philanthropy efforts with your corporate objectives, respond faster when the need is greatest, and maximize the impact of your donations.

Be nimble. Be quick. Be now. Organizations realizing Agile Social Impact accomplish real, positive impact and measurable end-results from their investment in philanthropy. They are not just making contributions but addressing urgent needs. Pouncing instantly and responding with a variety of connected programs and resources. Get more bang. And more benefit. For your beneficiaries and your organization. As they say, “win-win.”

Please read on for a look at four industry-changing trends that are reshaping philanthropy programs, and how Agile Social Impact addresses the issues posed by those trends.

Trend # 1. The Rise of Recurring Giving.

Year-round philanthropy is charging ahead of the annual giving campaign. Just half a decade ago, most companies’ annual giving campaigns were their primary philanthropic initiative. These programs would typically run for four to eight weeks and were promoted internally with bursts of marketing activities to encourage employees to sign up.

Now, we’re all acknowledging the obvious: that the need for philanthropy is year-round; and that co-workers have more and more contribution options outside employment-based annual giving (not to mention that those options are expedited by the many technology channels and devices available to them).

Recurring giving spurs more giving. What’s the measurable significance of the shift to recurring giving? For one, recurring gifts provide a steady source of funding for nonprofits, so corporations and their nonprofit partners are better able to respond quickly to natural disasters and other unpredictable events. Two, employees donate significantly more overall when allowed to spread their donations over time as opposed to giving single gifts. Recurring givers are also more likely to continue their generosity over the years, with much higher retention rates among monthly givers as opposed to those who give annually.

Powerful impact requires a powerful platform. Enabling recurring gifts, especially when combined with a matching program, is a powerful motivator for increasing engagement and impact. Obviously, that can pose significant burdens on you from an infrastructure standpoint. A platform that enables Agile Social Impact automates recurring giving and matching programs. You get visibility into where the dollars or hours are coming from. Where they’re going. And the impact they’re having.

Trend #2. Aligning Causes to Wider Objectives.

Focused efforts drive all-around impact. Many leading organizations are now working with fewer nonprofits, but making larger donations. Evolving away from general philanthropy toward causes that are more tightly aligned with their corporate DNA and other company initiatives. This reflects a desire to be strategically consistent and to concentrate giving that produces the most impact. Here’s a sampling of how industries align to chosen causes.

Signature programs are in favor. One way companies pursue cause alignment is through signature programs that are tightly aligned to specific causes. According to the ACCP, 28% of members have such programs for grantmaking, employee engagement or both. To best support their signature programs, 36% of CEOs said they would seek deeper impact with fewer partners and bigger grants, while 28% said they would focus on employees’ volunteering and giving.

Good for business. Why are some of the greatest corporate leaders in philanthropy adopting cause alignment as their best practice? Well, it’s good business. Both for the overall business, and to maximize philanthropic impact. This kind of optimization requires a platform that enables Agile Social Impact. Accurate and detailed visibility from a reporting and analytics standpoint, in real time, lets you know exactly where your money is going and, most importantly, the impact it’s actually having.

Trend #3. Viral Engagement Jumps Up Worker Participation.

New techniques tap employees’ shared enthusiasm for doing good. Let’s face it: the face of your workforce is changing. And so are the dynamics that motivate employees to participate — or not — in corporate giving and volunteer programs. There is no question that today’s workers look to social media channels to make decisions about what causes to support, where they will invest their time, and where they will direct their dollars.

Bosses don’t always rule. That means the traditional top-down approach where C-suite executives alone set the philanthropic course for the organization is out. Harnessing the grassroots enthusiasm employees share for doing good is in.

These viral engagement techniques set the best practices standard for the industry.

Personalized dashboards allow employees to clearly and immediately see their individual impact on the programs they participate in and care about. That visibility and measurement are critical to deepening their connection to your cause.

Competition between individuals, teams, regions or business units drives higher engagement with volunteering and giving programs. In fact, 43% of workers say they are more likely to give if competition (a.k.a. “gamification”) is involved.

Activity feeds connect workers at an emotional level to corporate causes and allow them to post and share with their peers. Mimicking popular social media platforms, the feeds maximize  connection and awareness, and build “buzz” around programs.

Buy-in and contributions go up. A platform that enables Agile Social Impact harnesses these powerful, peer-driven techniques. You’ll see immediate increases in buy-in, participation, and contribution. And perhaps most importantly, you’ll directly connect your employees to the highest mission of your company — to make the world a better place for all of us.

Trend #4. Global Optimization with a Local Spin.

As international giving increases, there’s more focus on local (in-country) impact.

Global giving is on the rise, with steady increases year-over-year as more and more companies enter markets overseas. These companies understand the benefits of establishing meaningful  connections and addressing local needs when they take their business to new markets. They generate goodwill, build a local reputation, and are often better able to attract local talent. Global philanthropy is business-related: While the largest companies in North America spread their generosity to 189 countries, the countries receiving the most societal investment tend to be the larger economies in Europe, along with India and China.

It’s not very easy to respond to highly variable location conditions while aligning with corporate goals. Organizations that do global programs well don’t dictate to the local offices; they take a collaborative approach. They broadly invest in goodwill across their strategic geographies and give their local teams freedom to allocate 20-30% of the resources to allow for local cultural differences and support region-specific causes. That strikes an excellent balance that delivers on a global strategy while creating the right kind of flexible local impact.

Visibility and agility matter. Optimizing worldwide giving programs to be both globally consistent and locally relevant requires a unique technology platform. One with a highly flexible workflow engine that enforces worldwide policies and approvals while enabling locally relevant decision making. One that integrates with other systems for accounting and other essential functions. And one that delivers access to accurate, real-time data at multiple levels for allocating, tracking and measuring impact at the required degree of detail. In combination, these capabilities give local geographies the flexibility to be most-efficient and impactful. In sum, Agile Social Impact.





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