How to Help Your Legal Team Help Others
April 11, 2022 | Articles
It’s a virtual certainty that members of your law department are looking to contribute to efforts to aid victims of the many humanitarian crises that are proliferating today.
Here, we look at how your organization can use its resources to bolster charitable giving, helping your team’s contributions achieve the maximum benefit.
Creating an Office Program
One way to encourage philanthropic endeavors is to set up a charitable giving program in the office. These programs offer several advantages.
First, the program manager can remind everyone when it’s time to give. Second, the chosen donations can come directly out of payroll, making it extremely convenient and consistent.
Third, the company can match contributions. Fourth, giving programs are an excellent recruitment tool, given that job candidates these days often inquire about corporate responsibility.
Get leadership involved and you can create a culture of largesse and civic mindfulness in your workplace that will influence and impress everyone who joins your team.
Numbers show these programs work. A recent study by the Association of Corporate Citizenship Professionals found that workplace giving brings in about $5 billion per year. Also, thanks to software options, you can obtain a turn-key solution.
A successful push toward corporate giving can make you feel good about your department and your company, and help your people feel that way, too.
The Right Expertise With the Right Tools
Specialization is essential these days and charitable giving is no different. If at all possible, add a corporate social responsibility (CSR) professional to your human resources department.
Realistically, of course, only large firms can bring in a person to work solely on an in-house giving program. But even if a person’s duties must be split, it’s best to put someone in charge who has some knowledge in the field — and perhaps more important — the will to make it a success.
Fortunately, plenty of software platforms are available to help your CSR director administer the program.
Generally, these software packages offer a mini-site or portal. Employees log-in to choose how much they want deducted from their paychecks and the nonprofit to which they want to give it.
Many of these charitable giving software packages can generate detailed reports for administrators. Some allow your generous employees to check on company matching funds and get news about the impact of their contributions. There are few better ways than the latter feature to keep your people engaged.
Although this blog is focused on monetary gifts, software packages are available that match professionals with volunteer opportunities and allow companies to develop grant-making programs.
As you might expect, the array of software choices is bewildering. To help companies wade through it all, an organization called Re:Charity — which describes itself as “a collaboration . . . to make high quality educational resources available to the community” — compiled a list if its top-reviewed giving platforms. They include America’s Charities, Benevity, Bright Funds, CyberGrants, and Millie. The article offers a description of the software, a break out of Re:Charity’s favorite feature of each, and a “verdict” on its efficacy.
You may find there is an even more convenient way to launch a charitable program. Make sure to check with your existing software vendors to see if they offer a giving platform. It might be reassuring to extend your relationship with an already trusted partner.
Salesforce is an example of a company whose main product does something else, but who eventually developed a giving platform. About five years ago, the nonprofit arm of the software giant teamed up with the United Way to develop Philanthropy Cloud. This meeting of the titans was unsurprising given that the United Way was a trailblazer when it came to setting up corporate giving programs connected to payroll.
Philanthropy Cloud can be presented as a workplace add-on, so the charitable-minded in a company don’t have to seek it out. According to the United Way announcement, the platform syncs with QuickBooks and TurboTax for ease of use at tax time.
As more people use it, the application is supposed to adapt, allowing co-workers to learn from each other and stay informed. Givers can choose from a selection of pre-vetted charities and respond in real time to major crises.
Let Givers Choose Their Passion
Speaking of a selection of pre-vetted organizations, any workplace giving program is bound to be more successful if employees can follow their passions with confidence that their money will be used properly. Some people want to protect the environment or wildlife, while others aim to support people suffering through natural disasters or war.
Offering them a wide-array of trustworthy nonprofits from which to choose will make them more likely to commit to a recurring payroll deduction. Their commitment lasts only as long as they choose, and can be made even more effective with company matching.
Don’t underestimate the importance of vetting 501(c)(3) nonprofits, whether your software provider does this for you or it’s handled by your in-house CSR professional.
A workplace giving program that engages in a proper examination of its nonprofits makes the decision to give that much easier. Pre-vetting helps your team feel even better about supporting their chosen worthy causes.
The Beats of Generosity
While a program of consistent small donations deducted can be the bread and butter of your program, Benevity, a Canadian company that develops giving platforms, recommends special campaigns a few times a year to really get people excited. Such a campaign certainly makes sense in the face of specific crises, such as the 2021 earthquake in Haiti or the current war in Ukraine.
Benevity cautions against leaving your announcement of the special campaign to a dry email. People receive so many emails per day in a busy law department that it may get lost in the digital flotsam. Make the kick-off of a campaign an event. Get together in a conference room or kitchen, and encourage people to discuss the best way to help and the most effective organizations.
Be creative. If appropriate, run a trivia contest about the region or cause connected to your campaign, complete with small prizes. Prepare a video presentation. Anything to make the effort seem vibrant, serious, and above all “just what you do.”
For example, on the day one of Benevity’s clients launched its giving campaign, a staff member rode a bicycle around the campus ringing a bell shouting out the effort and asking people to “make sure you give in your account.”
Something called “friend-raising,” is another way to bring campaigns to life and increase donations. Walks, bike rides, or swimming marathons that raise a few cents per mile or pool-length can be a great way to gain attention and build enthusiasm.
Your team might also respond well to a co-worker’s challenge. Called “peer matching,” this happens when an employee offers to match all funds donated by the other members of their team in addition to the company’s matching contribution. Aside from a way to increase the funds given, it allows team members to talk about the causes that are important to them.
Last but not least, you can always provide incentives for giving in whatever way you deem appropriate. Drawings for gift certificates, paid time off, or even lunch with the boss.
With the right tools and attention, you can foster a culture of giving in your department. Not only will it gather the funds necessary to solve terrible problems and help those in need, it will build morale among your team and leave your people feeling good about their workplace.