Skip ahead to:
Why Are Workplace Giving Campaigns Important?
Why is Expanded Choice in Workplace Giving Important?
Employer Benefits of Expanding Choice in Giving
How to Expand Your Campaign
Frequently Asked Questions About Campaign Expansion
Diversity. Workplace giving campaigns were established to give working people a vehicle to support the charitable causes in the community that are important to them. Traditionally, campaigns offered employees the option to support only the work of United Way and its affiliated organizations. While these are important causes, they do not fully represent the work being done by the nonprofit sector, nor the diverse interests of the workforce. A campaign belongs to the business’ employees, and should represent their diversity.
Efficiency. Federations like NC Community Shares were formed to streamline fundraising for charitable organizations. We exist to raise the funds our member organizations need to carry out their work. Our support allows them to focus more of their time and attention on their programs rather than focusing on fundraising efforts at the expense of their services. We not only streamline the process of participation for our member organizations, but for employers as well. We serve as the single point of contact for all 30 of our member organizations.
Effectiveness. Employees can maximize the impact of their donation by combining their “small” gifts together into one much larger contribution for significant positive change. An employee may feel that his or her $100 contribution to a charitable organization is insignificant, but consider the impact of that $100 if 50 coworkers also give $100. Their combined gift of $5,000 will have a significant, measurable impact on a charitable organization’s ability to provide their much-needed services in the community. And, that $5,000 contribution would not be possible without each individual’s “small” gift.
Affordability. Employees who choose to give are able to give more generously because they can spread their gift out over an extended period of time. An average worker might not be able to make a substantial one-time contribution to charity, but if given the opportunity could afford to deduct a smaller amount from each paycheck over a year’s time.
High standards within the nonprofit sector. Not every organization is created equal, yet donors need the assurance that their contributions are funding legitimate, responsible charitable groups. At times, it can be difficult and time-consuming for a donor to individually research charities in an effort to determine which are worthy of his or her support. We take the guesswork out of the process, providing employees with the peace of mind of knowing that their contributions are funding only those charitable organizations operating under high standards of financial and programmatic accountability.
At NC Community Shares, we review our members each year for fiscal responsibility and programmatic success. In order for our members to be eligible for participation in campaigns, they must provide us with their IRS tax returns, audits/reviews performed by independent Certified Public Accountants, annual reports, and other materials. They must keep their administrative costs low, generally no more than 25% of their annual revenues. Organizations exceeding this limit may still participate in our campaigns if they can demonstrate that the higher administrative costs are reasonable under their circumstances and that efforts are in place to reduce those costs within a reasonable amount of time, generally within one to three years. Our member organizations must live up to our high standards of operation or they lose their eligibility to participate in our campaigns.
Simply put, choice in giving just makes sense. Employees have a wide range of charitable interests, and it only makes sense that their campaign model should be representative of their diversity. Traditionally, a majority of workplace giving campaigns used the United Way campaign model. Nationally, that federation represents less than 45% of the 87,000 human service charities in business today, and generally ignores entire categories of charitable causes, including advancement of the arts, environmental concerns, health and medical research, consumer groups, international charities, and advocacy organizations of all types. While the one option campaign model has served its purpose in the past, it is no longer the only way to give at the office. It does not support the diversity and the flexibility that today’s employees demand. More than likely, we have all been touched by charity in one way or another. And, we all deserve the opportunity to give back to these groups that have touched our lives.
A 1999 Chicago public schools’ survey of coordinators of the Combined Charities Campaign found that the most frequently cited factor in increased employee participation was “expanded choices of charities.” There are a number of reasons why an individual may not want to give through a campaign where there is only one choice for their contributions. Perhaps a working mother prefers to give only to a nonprofit hospital that performed a life-saving surgical procedure on her child. Perhaps an immigrant employee would like to support the organization that helped his family safely and successfully move to the U.S. and find work. Perhaps a disabled man wants to give back to the organization that provided him with training and job placement services that helped him find his job, enabling him to live independently as a contributing member of the community.
All in all, the individual reasons are less important than the fact that when employees are presented with an expanded list of charitable choices, overall campaign participation among employees is likely to increase. Additional choices will appeal to some employees who have not contributed through the campaign in the past.
Aside from helping those in need, charitable giving is beneficial to your business as well. Members of the community will support your business when they know that you and your employees support the community. Offering your employees a giving program, and marketing it, are cost-effective ways to demonstrate that your business has a sense of social responsibility.
Beyond this, the type of campaign you offer your employees can have an even more direct effect on your company’s bottom line. If your campaign is limited in charitable choices despite your employees’ request for expanded choice, your employees may feel that you do not care about their needs or interests. Your business will be “rewarded” with no loyalty from employees, low productivity, low employee morale, and high employee turnover rates.
In today’s job market, employers know that recruiting and retaining quality employees is key to success. Businesses are responding by offering more comprehensive and competitive benefits packages. You may not realize it, but offering an expanded workplace giving campaign is a piece of your benefits package and deserves the same care and consideration as all other pieces of the total package. Unlike costly benefits such as insurance, pension plans, paid vacation time, profit sharing, stock options, discounts, and more, an effective workplace giving campaign is a benefit you can offer your employees at virtually NO COST to you.
Expanding the available choices in your workplace giving campaign keeps your employees happy, offers your business good publicity in the community, and allows you and your employees the means to support vital charitable causes in the community working for positive social change.
If you are a business manager or owner, you probably already understand that a company’s campaign belongs to its employees and no one else, particularly not to any one charitable organization that benefit from the campaign. As such, it should be designed with your needs in mind. Whether you are interested in establishing a new campaign with NC Community Shares or expanding an existing campaign, we are glad to work with you in planning and carrying out whatever kind of campaign best suits your needs.
NC Community Shares has over twenty years of experience with workplace giving campaigns that are each as unique as the business itself. We have the flexibility and experience to work with you to plan and carry out whatever kind of campaign best suits your needs, be it paper or electronic; a single effort of our federation or a combined effort to include several other federations; a campaign that runs during the fall or any other time of the year. Likewise, we have experience both as a participant as well as serving in the role of campaign manager/fiscal agent. We are happy to discuss our campaign management services with you as well.
It’s easy to include NC Community Shares in your workplace giving campaign. If your business already has a payroll deduction campaign, including NC Community Shares as a participant in the campaign does not require additional time. Generally, federations work cooperatively to create joint campaign materials and share presentation times. Expanding your campaign to include NC Community Shares is no more difficult than having a campaign with just one federation. In addition, our staff will work with your payroll department to coordinate the deduction logistics.
What can I do as an employee to bring NC Community Shares to my workplace?
We suggest you send a letter or an email to your supervisor indicating that you would like NC Community Shares as a choice in your charitable campaign. You can also encourage your co-workers to do the same. Businesses are more likely to respond to the desires of their employees than to requests from outside the organization to expand their charitable campaign.
We can provide you with useful tools and information about NC Community Shares as well as workplace giving campaigns in general that you can present to the decision-makers at your business. We are happy to assist you in making your request for expanded choice, at the level of involvement that is most comfortable for you. If you would like additional information or assistance from us, please contact usto discuss your business’ campaign.
What if we do not have a campaign? How can we start one?
The process is simple. NC Community Shares will work with you to create an exciting campaign that meets your company’s needs. We can provide printed materials about us and our members, and paper pledge forms. We can also discuss electronic pledging options, if your business would benefit from offering online pledging. We can attend campaign events, give short presentations at employee meetings or other gatherings, and answer any questions your employees may have. If you already deduct taxes or retirement from your payroll, you have the ability to offer charitable deductions to your employees. Funds deducted from your employees’ paychecks will be periodically sent to NC Community Shares, and we in turn distribute the funds to the recipient organizations.
Will this interfere with our commitment to agencies we already fund?
Remember, your company’s campaign belongs to you. Your first commitment should be to your employees’ desires, not to any charitable organizations that currently participate in your campaign.
If you are worried that adding Shares to your campaign will result in a decrease in donations to current campaign participants, consider that expanded campaigns are beneficial to all involved. Most campaigns grow when more choices are added. The appeal of NC Community Shares’ members will attract some employees who have never participated in previous campaigns. National studies have shown that when workplace campaigns were expanded to include federations like NC Community Shares, overall giving increased in 92% of combined campaigns. United Way giving also increased in 75% of these same campaigns.
If we allow Shares to participate in our campaign, will other groups demand to be let in?
Federations were first created so that companies could work with one entity rather than a multitude of individual charities. Federations offer employers efficiency and professionalism in conducting campaigns. They offer employees easy access to a wide variety of giving options.
Federations like NC Community Shares have developed to meet changing needs. Combined campaigns are run successfully in thousands of workplaces across the country by establishing reasonable guidelines. If other federations ask to participate, NC Community Shares is experienced in working cooperatively with them to run successful, exciting charitable giving campaigns.
What if my company also has locations outside of North Carolina, where NC Community Shares does not do business?
NC Community Shares is a member federation of Community Shares USA, a collaborative fundraising organization that represent local and regional social justice oriented charities and women’s groups in corporate workplace giving campaigns. Community Shares USA partners with corporations that operate in more than one state and want to offer social justice, women’s and environmental oriented charities as giving options to their employees. For more information about partnering with Community Shares USA in developing a multi-state campaign, please visit their website at www.communitysharesusa.org.