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Powering participation: how to re-engage employees in CSR

May 24, 2024
A group of environmental volunteers in matching bright blue t-shirts plant flowers, trees, and plants at a local park during the spring.

A company’s commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) is more important than ever before for attracting top talent and building an engaged workforce. Nearly 70% of employees want to work somewhere that supports giving and volunteerism and companies that invest in corporate giving have 40% higher levels of workforce retention

Despite employees listing CSR as a key factor when deciding where to work, they’re disengaging from these programs at alarming rates. According to the CECP 2022 Report, employee participation rates fell from 29% in 2019 to 17% in 2022 and have not rebounded since. Plus, matching gift dollars continue to go unclaimed with $4-7 billion left on the table each year. 

It’s clear that today's approach to corporate giving isn’t effectively engaging employees. At Bonterra, we believe the root cause of this problem is that current workplace giving software makes it difficult for employees to easily find and support causes they care about, which reduces the likelihood of participation.  

In this blog, we’ll explore best practices for re-engaging employees in corporate giving and how CSR software can help.  

For even more ways that Bonterra can help you power corporate philanthropy to its full potential through employee engagement efforts, download our complete guide, “The social impact transformation: CSR and strategic philanthropy.”  

Connect employees directly with the right nonprofits  

While your corporate giving initiatives should be aligned with your company’s values and funding objectives, don’t leave out causes your employees care about. Your workforce likely has existing relationships with nonprofits outside of the workplace as donors or volunteers. Limiting their ability to support these organizations can negatively impact participation.  

According to America’s Charities, 30% of employees don’t give through their company’s initiatives because the causes they care about are not made available to them. In contrast, 36% of employees say having the opportunity to support nonprofits they’re passionate about would motivate them to participate in their workplace giving program.  

Use your company’s programs to connect employees with the causes they already believe in and amplify their efforts to give back. Bonterra’s Employee Engagement software offers a pre-vetted network of 160,000 nonprofits and a rapidly expanding set of direct relationships. Make it easier than ever for employees to find and connect with preferred causes while ensuring that the nonprofits align with your company’s eligibility criteria and funding requirements.  

When your company positions itself as the connection point between employees and the causes they’re passionate about, your participation and engagement rates will skyrocket. 

Create an intuitive and user-friendly platform 

For both employees and program administrators, having a single, user-friendly hub for all your employee engagement programs is critical for driving participation. If employees must navigate multiple systems for recording volunteer hours, making a donation, claiming a company match, etc., the complex, multi-step process will deter them from getting involved.  

For administrators, setting up new campaigns can be a manual and time-intensive process, making it difficult to quickly spin up a new campaign in response to an emerging disaster or crisis. If your CSR software requires vendor support and technical expertise, it can further delay implementation and limit your team’s ability to set up programs promptly. 

To reduce administrative work and make it easy for employees to get involved, create a central platform for all programs — from matching gifts to volunteer time off. Bonterra’s Employee Engagement software unites all your corporate giving initiatives and offers key benefits for both CSR leaders and employees:  

Benefits for CSR teams:  

  • Minimize manual work for CSR teams with the ability to manage all engagement programs through a single admin portal.  
  • Access simple, intuitive tools to create giving and volunteerism campaigns that align with corporate branding without technical expertise. 
  • Send automatic nudges and reminders to employees, encouraging participation in current campaigns and ensuring they utilize outstanding matching gift balances. 

Benefits for employees:  

  • Create a personalized donor portal that reflects your employees’ specific giving and volunteerism preferences.  
  • Make it simple and easy for employees to check matching gift eligibility and automatically submit claims with Bonterra’s Employer Matching Integration.  
  • Provide employees with in-app suggestions, notifications, and gamification to drive awareness of matching gift funds and remaining balances. 

Increase payment transparency 

Your employees are motivated to get involved in CSR because they care about making a difference and supporting causes they’re passionate about. If your company provides visibility into what happens after a donation has been made and its impact, you’ll retain employee trust and increase the likelihood of future participation.  

At the end of a campaign, be sure to report program outcomes to your workforce, not just outputs. While statistics about the number of participants, dollars donated, and volunteer hours logged are important, your employees likely want to dig deeper. Work with your nonprofit partners to find out exactly how their efforts made a difference and communicate this data across company channels. This can also help raise awareness about your initiatives, potentially engaging new participants in future programs.  

Although reporting impact is important, it can create additional work for both nonprofits and program administrators without a tool to automate the process. When you partner with Bonterra for employee engagement, you’ll gain access to our native reporting tool, Insights. Here’s how Insights helps transform your initiatives for maximum participation:   

  • Access standard dashboards and self-service analytics that offer actionable insights across your entire portfolio of giving and volunteerism programs. 
  • Start reporting impact immediately with 15 out-of-the-box dashboards designed to measure program outcomes and easily meet common regulatory requirements. 
  • Translate program data into compelling impact stories that highlight the benefits of your employees’ nonprofit relationships.  
  • Gain insight into how different segments of your workforce participate and the causes they want to support. With the ability to understand these preferences, you can better tailor future programs to meet their needs, translating to increased participation in the long run. 

Join us in re-engaging employees 

Research shows that CSR and a strong sense of purpose actively contribute to increased employee engagement rates. According to Gallup, when a company has an engaged workforce, they see a 17% increase in productivity, are 21% more profitable, and can have 41% lower absenteeism.  

Unfortunately, employees are deterred from participating in these programs when the causes they care about aren’t reflected, the process for logging activities is complex and time consuming, and the impact of their efforts isn’t reported.  

At Bonterra, we’re on a mission to re-engage employees with an unparalleled network of nonprofits and the tools to make giving simple, easy, and fun. When you partner with us, our team of experts will work alongside you to build a platform that meets your business needs, minimizes administrative work, and motivates participation.  

See why over 50% of the Fortune 500 partner with Bonterra and schedule a demo with one of our experts.   

    Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Corporations
  • Coordinating social services
  • Employee giving