Disasters like the recent earthquake in Haiti tug at the hearts of Americans eager to do what they can to contribute to relief efforts. But those who want to give financial support must also be careful about which causes they contribute to.
Just hours after the Haiti disaster, national media was reporting on scam artists setting up fake solicitations through social media and e-mails. In this situation, employers can play an important role in helping their employees identify legitimate charitable organizations. And, in return, build a sense of community among their workforce.
Employee engagement is a concern for many employers at this time after last year’s dismal economy created many workplace tensions. Reductions in force left surviving employees often doing more than one job – in some cases for less pay and fewer benefits. Rallying around a cause like disaster relief gives employees a sense of contribution that may have been missing from their lives these past several months.
If your organization wants to help employees channel their giving efforts, here are some guidelines to help ensure your success.
First, it is important that employees not feel pressured to contribute. The invitation should be clearly voluntary. Managers and supervisors need to be sure they are not indirectly suggesting contributions are expected. Instead, it should be clear the resource is available for those who wish to participate.
Second, ensure whatever resources you recommend are reputable. Organizations like Charity Navigator provide ratings on charitable organizations based on the amount of contributions that actually go toward programs versus administration.
Third, consider matching employee contributions to a certain level. This demonstrates your organization’s support of the effort and may create an incentive for employees to participate. You may even want to investigate allowing payroll deductions to help make employee giving even easier.
And, finally, follow up on the impact your contributions made. Reach out to the charities your employees supported every few months to get an update on how your donations are making a difference, and then communicate that with your workforce.
Or, in the case of a disaster like Haiti, you may find employees express a desire to continue support beyond the disaster response stage – through relief and development, which will continue building community in your organization.
Charity Navigator says each year $4.8 billion is given to charity organizations through workplace giving campaigns. Americans are generous. By providing organization, leadership and incentives, employers can help ensure that generosity is given to reputable organizations. They may also see a benefit of camaraderie among employees at a time when it is sorely needed.