Going Beyond Double Match on #GivingTuesday to Get All Employees Involved
An Interview with Guggenheim Partners
In the last five years, #GivingTuesday has become a worldwide phenomenon and an established part of year-end behavior. For nonprofits, it has been an effective way to kick off holiday giving campaigns and close out the year with strong engagement and high donor rates. For corporations, #GivingTuesday has been an opportunity to engage stakeholders and support prioritized causes or organizations through an authentic, impactful initiative – the strategy and implementation of which can prove to be a challenge.
Like the movement overall, corporate involvement with #GivingTuesday has often been driven by grassroots efforts of employees. In the last few years, many companies have tried to leverage the momentum and excitement that the day brings to spotlight their citizenship efforts, launch new nonprofit partnerships, kickoff end-of-year matching programs and re-engage employees in year-round social impact efforts.
To ensure that #GivingTuesday isn’t just a moment in time, or strictly about financial contributions, many companies have identified innovative ways to drive participation and build a greater sense of purpose among their employees.
Guggenheim Partners, a global investment and advisory firm, has embedded innovation as a core corporate value, and thus has made innovation a priority in the implementation of its corporate citizenship efforts. Guggenheim provides unique ways for employees to feel a part of something bigger during #GivingTuesday by making the corporate investment their own.
Penny Zuckerwise, founding head of CSR at Guggenheim Partners, describes how the program has evolved corporate social responsibility to also include PSR, or personal social responsibility, and encourages every employee to get involved. As part of this program, Guggenheim Partners provides $100 to each employee to give to the nonprofit of his or her choice as part of #GivingTuesday. “We have 2,500 employees,” Zuckerwise explained, “but we touch 1,000 nonprofits through that program. And employees get to give to whichever eligible charity of their choice, so that PSR piece really engages people.”¹
We sat down with Lauren Coape-Arnold, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Guggenheim Partners, to learn how the company inspired 87% of its employees to participate in #GivingTuesday by directing donations to causes of their choosing.
We’re inspired and intrigued by Guggenheim Partners’ innovative approach to #GivingTuesday. Can you describe this initiative?
For the past two years, Guggenheim Partners celebrated #GivingTuesday by presenting all employees with a $100 charitable gift card to be directed to an eligible charity of their choice through Benevity, our corporate giving software system. Each employee was able to “redeem” his or her $100 charitable gift card during the month of December.
Why is engaging employees in this way for #GivingTuesday important to Guggenheim Partners? Does it have a specific impact on employees and/or internal culture?
The program engages employees by empowering them. The charitable gift cards were also a great way to introduce the Guggenheim brand into new communities during the holiday season. We were able to stretch the money we would have spent through general corporate holiday giving much further by empowering our employees to select the recipients.
We initially ran the #GivingTuesday charitable gift card program in December 2014 because it was one month before the official launch of our new Matching Gifts program (rolled out in January 2015). This was a unique way to inform employees about the new giving software tool, and to get them excited about the upcoming Matching Gifts program.
We continued the program in 2015 due to the overwhelming response we received in 2014. We heard from countless employees that this action was what made them most proud of the firm, and we heard from so many nonprofits about how touched they were to receive surprise gifts from our employees.
With the employee donations open to the cause area of their choice, how do you track the impact of your investments?
We tracked the number of employees that participated and organizations touched by the gifts rather than any collective impact among the gifts. Because we know every employee has a different story and a different cause close to his or her heart, this is a great way to support numerous organizations and causes, and individual employees’ personal passions. In 2015, we reached 1,230 organizations.
This campaign also gave us a significant amount of information around what employees care about based on the causes they selected, which we were able to analyze across office locations to understand the issues most important to our different communities.
How does #GivingTuesday fit within your strategic giving and overall corporate citizenship efforts?
We have a big interest in engaging all employees in our strategy, and giving them the opportunity to take an active role in directing funds to a cause of their choice is a tremendous way to engage the majority of our firm.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone organizing a #GivingTuesday initiative this year?
Make it personal, and try to strike a chord about things that matter to your employees. In our case, we were able to make a significant impact in our communities and meaningfully engage our workforce at the same time by empowering employees to direct CSR resources to causes that matter most to them.
¹The State of Corporate Goodness: 2016 and Beyond – http://www.triplepundit.com/2016/03/state-corporate-goodness-2016-beyond/