8 New Ideas for Giving Back That Go Beyond Donation Matching

8 New Ideas for Giving Back That Go Beyond Donation Matching

Great workplaces know that giving back to the community boosts employee morale, deepens a sense of purpose and fosters workplace pride. 

Even the Great Place To Work Trust Index™ survey, used to select the Best Workplaces™ and Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For®, asks employees to agree or disagree with the statement, “I feel good about the ways we contribute to the community.” 

Many of the Best Workplaces contribute to their communities by giving employees generous allotments of paid time off for volunteering, matching their employees’ charitable donations, and building a philosophy of corporate social responsibility into the very fabrics of their businesses.

Consider these related stats from a recent 100 Best Companies list:

  • 64% offered paid time off for volunteering
  • 67% offered donation matching programs

The importance of corporate social responsibility to employees

Corporate social responsibility is important to employees because it gives their jobs special meaning. When employees can connect their work to what is happening outside in the broader community, they feel an increased sense of purpose at work. Generous community giving, impacting millions, was one of the biggest drivers of better employee experience among the 2021 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For®.

Looking for ideas on how your workplace can support the local community? Take some inspiration from the creative ways this year’s 100 Best Companies are giving back right now:

8 Corporate community involvement ideas

1. Get creative with your donations

In addition to financial donations, many Best Companies give back in ways that are unique to their business. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some businesses found they were able to support with their own products and services.

Both Hyatt and Hilton offered complimentary hotel rooms to first responders. Cisco donated its unused videoconferencing equipment to medical providers. Baptist Health South Florida offered free virtual health classes to the public. And Publix donated surplus deli chicken to community food banks.

2. Make it easy for employees to volunteer their time

Many Best Companies provide a yearly allowance of paid time off for employees to work with a local charity. Or they organize volunteering as a team – anything from delivering Second Harvest produce boxes to struggling families, like Allianz Life Insurance did, to building KABOOM! playgrounds in play deserts, like CarMax did.

Orrick even offers a fellowship program that enables their lawyers to devote a year, at full pay, to working full-time on issues of civil rights, criminal justice reform, social justice and economic equity.

3. Match more than just donations

Corporate matching on employee donations is a great way to offer support. But matching doesn’t have to just be a dollar-for-dollar exchange. If employees aren’t in a financial position to donate their own money, matching for their time is an excellent alternative.

At American Fidelity Assurance Company, employees who volunteer earn $10 per hour for organizations where they contribute their time. And for employees who serve on the board of a non-profit, the company contributes $1,000 per year to the organization. 

4. Bring your customers on board

Get your customers involved by asking them to participate in your charitable initiatives. Not only will you be bringing wider awareness to the cause, you’ll also be showing customers what your company stands for. 

Marriott’s Bonvoy loyalty members can use their points to make charitable donations to organizations that contribute to COVID-19 relief efforts, or that work on issues of racial equality. Marriott then matches these points and converts them to monetary donations.

5. Offer mentorship or internship opportunities

Partner with a local school or youth group to offer education and training programs. Employees can feel pride as they mentor to someone in need, and mentees can gain unique skills from your company’s expertise.

Salesforce pairs employees with small business owners for one-on-one mentorship, supporting entrepreneurs in skills such as accounting, operations and marketing. And IBM’s P-TECH program is a public-education model that upskills high school students from underserved backgrounds for careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

6. Stand up for social justice

There was a time when businesses were afraid to wade into social and political conversations, but that time has long passed. Now, companies that authentically speak out against injustices rather than play it safe are rewarded with increased customer loyalty.  

A senior physician at Northwell Health organized a White Coats for Black Lives event across all of Northwell’s hospitals in which employees came outside and took a knee in honor of George Floyd.

At Experian, the company’s Asian American employee resource group mobilized to aid Asian restaurant owners who were being racially targeted, while their Karibu (African-American and Black) ERG created a resource guide to teach employees how they can be a catalyst for change in their communities.  

7. Go green with your community initiatives

Being an eco-conscious company isn’t just good for the environment – it’s also good for employee engagement and retention. Over 70% of millennials say they are more likely to work at a company with a strong environmental agenda.

Green initiatives don’t have to stand alone and can be integrated with other campaigns. Atlassian combined an exercise competition with climate activism by planting one tree for every 300 steps taken by employees, in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation.

L3Harris Technologies employees in Waco, Texas, saw a way to combine Earth Day with COVID-19 relief support by recycling surplus materials to produce cloth face masks for the community.

8. Create a service award

Tribute an employee (or group of employees) who have made an exceptional difference in the lives of others. This could take the form of anything from a financial incentive, to an awards celebration, to a community donation in the employees’ names.

In 2020, OC Tanner created their Human Values Gifts, which are financial contributions to non-profits or charities that support the BIPOC community. These gifts were donated in the names of employees who bravely shared their own experiences with racism and inclusion at the company’s townhall.

Is your company a great place to work that also gives back to the community? If so, apply now to be named in our next list of Best Workplaces. 

Claire Hastwell