Developing an engaging, high-impact CSR program at a company is a journey, and like every journey, you have to start with the first step.
It would be nice to hit the ground running – with colleagues regularly volunteering during work hours, mentoring or supporting charities as trustees and through pro-bono work. The reality tends to be more modest. Indeed ‘charity begins at work’, because most community engagement in the workplace starts with grass-roots corporate fundraising: bake sales, sponsored bike rides and Christmas jumper days!
For example, JustGiving works with companies to engage their employees in fundraising programmes
we’ve helped over
companies raise over
for causes, contributing to the
value given annually by British businesses.
People enjoy office-based activities because they’re fun, rewarding and easy to get involved in. They also don’t push people out of their comfort zone – something that’s really important in building people’s confidence with community work.
Just as it is easy to get a fund-raising initiative off the ground in the workplace, it’s also a great place to start building CSR into your employee engagement strategy. Empowering your staff to take the first step into community investment helps align your corporate values with those of the workforce. We’re going to explore this idea a bit more in this article.
Modern corporate life can feel pretty silo-ed; people often work hard within their specific teams whilst at the same time rarely getting a sense of the organisation as a whole.
Fundraising within the office allows people to meet and to build relationships across different functions, seniorities and, often, offices. It can strengthen the shared identity of the organisation and foster better team working. Fundamentally, it promotes powerful cross-community bonding.
A great example of this is the Deloitte UK’s 2015 Global Challenge, where 300 employees from different teams and levels took part in one of four global challenge treks around the world, raising about £1.5m for three charity partners.
You can view the different fundraising activities they took part in here.
In a vast multinational company, a unifying project like Deloitte’s Global Challenge helps people to identify the ‘imagined community’ to which they belong.
Fundraising helps your teams build positive relationships beyond the company.
Your employees can help spread the word about the work you as an organisation do in your community, particularly through the medium of social media.
At JustGiving we did our own #nomakeupselfie which raised money for a good cause and brought colleagues from different teams together
On JustGiving, each fundraiser that links to Facebook has an average of 338 friends. As such, each time your employees share their fundraising activities on Facebook a captive audience will see your initiatives, encouraging their support.
Fundraising is also the easiest way for people to start a relationship with charities. From fundraising, your employees have the opportunity to build relationships with charities which really begin to add value to their contribution and the charity’s work, through such things as volunteering, pro-bono work and beyond.
You can really improve how your people perceive the value of the work they do everyday by using your fundraising power to make a positive change in similar sectors.
Through fundraising your employees are making an impact on causes by raising the vital funds that enable them to continue their good work. Some companies have opted to fundraise for specific projects. Thames Water, for example, is raising money for WaterAid’s Malawi Appeal.
Engaging employees in fundraising has tangible benefits for companies and charities alike. Most importantly, it serves as a first step for employees to get involved in the third sector. Fundraising can be seen as the initial rung in the ‘CSR ladder’: individuals often fundraise first before they move on to greater levels of community involvement. Therefore, not only do fundraising initiatives boost employee morale, but they also empower individuals to support causes and their local community, regardless of their experience.
Host a friendly competition between teams, for example, if your office is quite competitive. Spread the news about your new programme and use different media to make it engaging especially using videos and images. Every office will have its ‘charity enthusiast’; identify them and get them to tell their success stories to get the message across.
Ask influential individuals and those in authority to spread the word:
• Senior management: it shows your colleagues that fundraising is a priority within your company’s strategy
• Charity champions: having a peer shows how important fundraising is locally.
Explain to your colleagues what impact their fundraising would be. For example, if your company has a target of £50,000, what would that mean for your charity partner? This would give your employees something to work towards. Equally, as a CSR track-record is developed, make sure that the impact of past successes is communicated clearly.