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Corporate philanthropy

Giving Circles Strengthen Employee Engagement

And they’re a good way for companies to develop a strong and vibrant culture.

Your clients have a reason to want to invest in companies with a strong and vibrant culture. These kinds of companies have less turnover and far more resilience when things are tough. 

Having a strong culture is so important that, as Frank Perdue used to say, “If a culture is weak, people have limited motivation and they work only for money. When values are strong, the culture is strong, and people are excited to work there.” (Full disclosure: I’m quoting my late husband.)

Building a Strong Culture

So how do you get a strong and vibrant culture? 

Employee engagement soars when employees are proud of their company. Today, many companies encourage their employees to volunteer for a joint charitable enterprise.

Physically volunteering to support a charity is an effective way of enabling employees to connect with each other, build a strong workplace culture and feel pride in their company.

Perdue Farms, for example, creates opportunities for associates to volunteer at the Food Bank or help build a house as part of Habitat for Humanity.

When it comes to morale and engagement, such volunteering programs are priceless.

However, Emily Rasmussen from Grapevine has a ground-breaking new idea for achieving the same thing while involving more of the employee community.

It’s one that couldn’t exist before today’s internet-based technology breakthroughs. It also has the added advantage of being free.

The online and free “Giving Circles” that she and her colleagues have developed have a number of features that companies will find desirable. Maybe even irresistible.

Giving Circles

As a platform for online communities to engage in philanthropy, Grapevine enables people to come together and pool their donations into a collective fund. The participants decide together where to give the combined amount.

For example, let’s imagine that the employees and management at the Acme Nail Company decide they want to do something philanthropic together.  As a first step, someone from Acme goes to the website, and using the online tools, sets up the Acme Nail Company Giving Circle.

 “We designed the sign-up process to be so easy that someone can set it up in just a few minutes,” says Rasmussen.

Employees at Acme can then login to their new online community. Typically, they’ll be motivated to invite their other colleagues to join them.

Acme employees can then nominate charities, and they get to explain why they think their favorite charity should receive a grant from the community.  Participants then get to vote online which of the nominations they’ll choose. It’s a process that involves and energizes the participants.

An advantage for the Acme participants is “When making their decision, they have at their fingertips extensive information about their possible choices. In fact,” she continues, “ has links to information on more than 1 million Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) organizations that are in good standing with the IRS.”

She goes on to point out, “With a click of a button they can access Charity Navigator or Guidestar for details on such considerations as, ‘How much money goes to overhead and how much goes to delivering services?’  There’s also an on-line forum for Acme employees to discuss the charities they’re considering and the platform features expert recommendations to help donors find nonprofits that are well-respected for their good work.”

When Acme employees are ready to vote and make a selection, they might choose to focus on just one charity, or they could choose to support several. Further, they can support a different charity each month, quarter or year.

Large numbers of Acme employees will be involved, some making a one-time donation, and others signing up for recurring donations into the pooled fund. Donations can be as little as $1.

The entire giving process is collaborative, democratic,and surprisingly close to effortless.  Meanwhile, a whole dynamism is created as the employees discuss what they care about.

“A real sense of pride in their company develops when companies elect to match the donations made by the community,” Rasmussen observes. “And on top of this, being part of the process has the added benefit for management of learning about what their employees care about and connecting with them on a deeper, values-driven level.”

Further, employees get the good feeling of knowing that together, they’re doing something about a problem with far more impact than they’d ever have if they were working on it alone. Participation in a Giving Circle means pure teamwork and teambuilding.

To quote Frank Perdue again, the benefits of giving are enormous for the individual and the group. “If you want to be happy,” he used to say, “think what you can do for someone else. If you want to be miserable, think what’s owed to you.”

Mitzi Perdue is a business owner, speaker. and author of the books, HOW TO MAKE YOUR FAMILY BUSINESS LAST, and 52 TIPS FOR PREVENTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING. Contact her at [email protected] or call her at 410 860-4444.

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