John Mackie

How doing good and giving back can benefit employee morale

Suggestions on how to run a successful employee giving campaign by John Mackie, Senior Vice President, Hefren-Tillotson, Inc. 

At Hefren-Tillotson, giving back and serving our communities is in our DNA. We have the honor of supporting many wonderful organizations and causes throughout the year. An annual highlight is our United Way employee giving campaign – a great opportunity to give back while strengthening our culture of service, excellence and caring.

I’ve been fortunate enough to co-chair these efforts at Hefren-Tillotson for the last three years. In that time, we’ve raised more than $1.5 million for local organizations.

As a result of these campaigns, we’ve seen the change in our employee morale. When a company supports their employees by allowing them to take time to volunteer, matching gifts, and creating outlets for doing good in the community, employees will be more motivated at work, feel pride in their company and likely stay in their jobs longer.

In our experience, it’s a win-win-win.

Here are the top four ways we have found success in our employee giving campaigns at Hefren-Tillotson:

  1. Make it Personal

We know that people care and are motivated by different things. To run a successful employee giving campaign, help members of your organization find and latch on to what they care about and what motivates them. We have had success tying our giving campaign into specific service-oriented projects. These opportunities help employees see needs and causes in our communities in a whole new, up close and personal way.

  1. Educate, Educate, Educate

A key component of helping people to find personal connections or causes that they care about is to educate them. We have found it invaluable to get people out into organizations and bring in local nonprofits to our office to tell us about their work and engage our employees in volunteer activities.

Further, we host a kick-off lunch at each branch, which offers a great opportunity to get each branch together to share a meal and build community. It allows us to introduce the logistical aspects of the campaign (time frame, how to give, who to call with questions, etc.), and we bring in a community organization to share how they serve our community and learn how our employees’ dollars can support that work.

We know that not every person will connect and support the mission of each organization.  However, by exposing and introducing employees to many wonderful organizations, our employees are given the chance to find something they are passionate about.

  1. Support from Leadership

Support throughout the organization is critical to a successful campaign. We work hard to make sure everyone is on board and general campaign goals and outcomes are understood. We are fortunate to have many exceptional leaders within Hefren-Tillotson. For example, our CEO, Kim Fleming, has been a tremendous supporter and advocate for the campaign every year. Her willingness to do “whatever it takes” to help make the campaign a success has always been helpful. She has hosted events, gotten up and performed at our celebrations and even agreed to hand deliver some of our donations. Having support from the leadership of your organization and a strong committee help spread the work and contribute to a great campaign.

  1. Fun

Make it fun. What do lip sync battles, Hollywood game nights, talent shows or family feud have in common? They are all events we’ve hosted to celebrate our annual giving campaign. We’ve found that a celebration event has multiple benefits. For a company with various branches, it is a way to encourage everyone to get together. Also, it allows us to have fun while we do good through raising funds and awareness. It helps to introduce newer employees to our caring and generous culture.

We try to build in fun activities throughout the campaign. We may have some employee giveaways or prizes. We’ve set specific goals for branches and had the people from our campaign committee take a pie in the face or something else silly. These things are small, but help to build momentum for a campaign and encourage broad participation.

People are motivated by different things. These approaches can help reach a variety of people in ways that speak to them.

What are you waiting for?  A successful giving campaign helps to support OUR communities. These are our neighbors and friends. We can make a difference.