In the past three years, America's Charities has been releasing the country's most incisive and comprehensive series of reports on trends in employee volunteering and giving. This year's much-anticipated report was just released, and it's packed with encouraging -- even inspiring -- data for anyone who cares about employee-centered corporate philanthropy.
As a federation that connects public and private sector employers with charities to engage employees in greater giving, America's Charities has been at the forefront of employee giving since 1980, helping to raise more than $650 million for over 10,000 charities. The organization's recent report, Snapshot 2015: The New Corporate DNA--Where Employee Engagement and Social Impact Converge, reflects upon the evolution of employee volunteering from a small, isolated outpost of the employee experience to one that has become a central component of employee engagement - a development the report sees as a "dramatic shift" in just two years. As companies have begun to recognize that giving back is not an optional perk for employees but an expected cornerstone of every company's DNA, employers are substantially integrating this ideology into their corporate goals and messaging.
The 2015 Snapshot examines how companies of all sizes are repositioning themselves around employee giving and volunteering, and the ways in which employees are responding. The key takeaways speak volumes about how every business is being forced to step up its game when it comes to opportunities for employee service, and how this part of the employee experience is now front and center in the overall company-employee relationship. There's no such thing as lip service anymore - corporate philanthropy must be integrated into a company's mission and culture, it must be led from the top, it must offer myriad opportunities to engage employees, and it must be tied to actual impact.
According to the report:
1. Getting involved is an on-ramp to full engagement. Volunteerism is now the core around which companies are building employee engagement strategies and programs. Not only does it serve as a catalyzing force within companies, but also it is an on-ramp to full employee engagement and deepening partnerships with nonprofit organizations.
2. If it's not authentic, they will know. Employee engagement has become a key ingredient in employee recruitment and retention strategies and it MUST be authentic. Anything else is considered superficial and inauthentic. Without leadership support, employee engagement programs are likely to lack authenticity and fail.
3. Leadership must be involved. Leadership MUST be involved in efforts to engage employees. Employee engagement and workplace giving programs MUST be woven into the fabric of a corporation's identity. Employees are keenly aware if leadership at all levels is authentically involved or not. It's not enough to say giving of time, money, and skills are important. They MUST be involved, and it MUST be in the corporate DNA.
4. Millennials are here, and they are company influencers. No other generation has entered the workforce with such high expectations of their employers. The barriers that separated life inside and outside the walls of the workplace have come tumbling down.
5. Large companies: move over and make room for small-to-midsize companies. Engagement isn't for just large companies. Small-to-mid-size companies now feel increased expectations to be more strategic in their philanthropy and empower their employees to give time, talent and money.
6. Alignment of corporate goals, employee interests and nonprofit needs is essential. Companies can drive greater engagement but they need to align strategically to match corporate and employee interests with the genuine needs of nonprofit organizations.
The report takes a deep dive into the top trends of employee engagement and workplace giving regarding all aspects of volunteering and giving, one of which is the increasing importance of modern technology systems to support an interactive, social and mobile giving experience. I'm proud to note that America's Charities itself is now powered exclusively by Causecast's technology, to help leaders maximize community impact and mobilize their workforce through the seamless integration of employee giving, social media sharing, crowdfunding, team volunteering, in-kind giving and storytelling.
Snapshot 2015 offers a rich blueprint for companies to assess how their volunteer and giving programs match up with those of their competitors. And these days, it's important to recognize that the top talent and new client prospects you're chasing are taking a close look at you, too, analyzing how seriously your company takes its role as a citizen on the global stage. The era of transparency and accountability is upon us, and no one gets a hall pass.
Whether you're a leader at a small, medium or large-sized company, I highly recommend that you approach the latest Snapshot with two purposes in mind. First, as a report card for how your company is doing when it comes to engaging employees in purpose-filled work. And second, as a guidepost for where you need to go as an organization to build a rich corporate culture that will attract and retain employees while leaving a lasting legacy of true community impact.
Purpose@Work is a new series of discussions designed to explore how we can infuse a deep sense of purpose into our work - through our organizations, our people, and our impact in society.
How are you taking purpose to the next level in your workplace? Let us know at PurposePlusProfit@huffingtonpost.com or by tweeting with #PurposeAtWork.