Driving employee engagement through a culture of volunteering and giving

With technology making its way to every aspect of life, volunteering and giving, as concepts, have been redefined

Updated: Nov 21, 2017 05:08:41 PM UTC
Image: Shutterstock

Giving is an integral part of Indian cuture. India ranks among the top six countries in the world that spends money for social causes. Much of that giving is in small amounts, which is increasing because of the rise of social media, messaging apps and mobile technology. These factors are leading the way to create the next generation of the largest and the most tech-savvy donors. The next-gen donor community could emerge as a force for good worldwide.

According to Global Trends in Giving Report 2017, technology and social media are the major driving forces for individuals towards giving. Some of the key findings of the report are as follows:

- Online giving technology, combined with access to a 24/7 global news cycle and more affordable international travel, has led to an increase in donors with an empathetic worldview. - The rise in online giving is directly correlated to the rise in social media. 42 percent of online donors worldwide cite social media as the tool that most often inspires them to give. Of these donors, 62 percent say that Facebook is their top inspiration while 15 percent say its Twitter, and 10 percent accredit Instagram.
- Millennials, Gen X'ers and Baby Boomers all prefer to give online – 62 percent, 59 percent and 59 percent, said, respectively. In fact, the generations are almost identical in their giving preferences with one exception: Direct mail is popular with Baby Boomers (19 percent), less popular with Gen X'ers (11 percent) and the least popular with millennials (10 percent).
- 91 percent donors say that positive emotions, such as hope and empathy, are the motivating factors behind their giving; only 9 percent say anger and sadness. With a 24/7 news cycle that often focuses on the negative, non-profit organisations and non-governmental organisations can stand out by sharing positive stories and calls-to-action.
- Asian donors most often give to children and youth (18 percent), education (18 percent) and women and girls (12 percent) which reflects a sense of social responsibility to provide services to the lowest rung of the society. Arts and culture (2 percent), peace and nonviolence (1 percent) and research and public policy (1 percent) are the causes that attract the least financing.

Organisations today are constantly looking for newer ways in which they can create business value and also do social good. In India, after the corporate social responsibility (CSR) Law was passed, businesses have started deploying huge sums of money towards community building efforts. Moreover, they are moving towards adding ways to engage more employees in their CSR or community efforts. Keeping this in mind, more and more corporates are now creating ways to align their approach with their employees' passions to address key societal issues. With technology making its way to every aspect of life, volunteering and giving as concepts have been redefined.

Companies are integrating technology in previously undiscovered ways to build a healthy work culture, one that encourages empathy and the spirit of giving to create an impact. For example, ratings agency Moody's Analytics' employees engage in a range of activities, from teaching young women how to harness the power of data analytics, developing the skills to succeed in computer science through immersive coding programs, to providing pro bono support, amongst others. Similarly, Tata Communications employees pitch in for activities under three pillars - education, livelihood and healthcare. A host of activities including painting school walls with educational artwork, career counseling for the youth to geriatric care see immense and persistent participation from employees.

At Genpact, for example, apart from focusing on education of young children by creating teaching aid for under-resourced classrooms or telling stories through organising puppet shows, the employees do multiple empowerment sessions for their housekeeping staff at office. These sessions are aimed at giving functional literacy sessions to improve their quality of living and change their outlook towards life.

Responsible corporate citizens are giving many such opportunities to their workforce, which is helping them increase productivity and retain purpose-oriented employees. The Imperative Workforce Index shows that purpose-oriented workers have 20 percent longer tenure, 50 percent greater likelihood to be in a leadership position, 47 percent greater likelihood to be company advocates and 64 percent higher levels of fulfillment.

Corporate giving and volunteering programs can simultaneously drive a variety of business and community goals. Few ideas to achieve the same are as follows:

- Engage employee ambassadors, employee resource groups or volunteer committees to serve as internal champions of your programs
- Consider regional, cross-business-unit, or inter-brand competitions to incentivise engagement in support of employee passion areas
- Consider experimenting with non-traditional programs that are skills-based, on-site, virtual or employee-chosen in order to engage new audiences and partners

- By  Abhishek Jain, Manager – Consulting and Marketing, Goodera

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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