Managing a successful workplace campaign means giving people an opportunity to become engaged in multiple ways with your nonprofit, ranging from quietly turning in their envelope, giving online or attending various events.
First, don’t assume that all employees know everything about your organization, its mission, etc. As with any other population, your organization has a variety of people in a state of flux: some people have been working there since the beginning of time, and probably know more than you do, while others are somewhere in the middle, and still others might have just started working there just last month. Have a variety of activities and appeals so that each set can feel engaged.
For the veterans, probably the initial mention that “It’s staff giving time” during your opening campaign staff meeting will be sufficient; however, reminders are always important to help busy people, so an email or two can boost your participation rate with these people.
The residents on the other hand, have lived in “the neighborhood” for a while at least, and heard this appeal at least a few times now. You’ll have to make some effort to break through the clutter of the past to make an impact – particularly if you are going to increase the participation rate, not to mention the average gift.
When appealing to the newbies, this is your first chance to introduce them to the campaign, so tell the story right! Why should they give to the staff campaign, anyway? While you know it’s important to have a high rate of participation to apply for additional funding, your opening pitch should always focus on the mission of your organization, as it would with any other population. (What will this gift accomplish?)
It’s tempting, when there are so many campaigns to focus on, to give little effort to the staff campaign and just move on to everything else, but getting staff on board can serve to increase your overall number of ambassadors significantly. Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth . . . positive or negative.
Give your workplace campaign the same importance as any other, and go the extra mile – solicit a corporate sponsor that might cover the cost of a special staff outing, meal or event. If this time isn’t feasible, consider soliciting a variety of prizes to be awarded throughout the campaign.
Even small nonprofits with limited staff and budgets have implemented this strategy to bolster morale during their workplace campaigns.
Noreen* was able to give away incentives specific to her office, with management buy-in, such as having heads of departments available to work for other employees for a day, doing their jobs, such as filing, data entry, answering phones, delivering mail, etc.
“That was a real morale booster!” Noreen recounts, “But other prizes were popular, too, such as an extra vacation day, or a free executive parking space. Most importantly, it got more people engaged and excited, talking about who might win the prizes. Ultimately, our giving and participation went up, too – but the campaign wasn’t seen with the drudgery it had been in the past, simply because of these prizes . . . and, I think, management doing things such as filing and working reception!”
While you want to have enough visibility & events so that everyone can participate, take care to have the means to protect people’s anonymity, as well as see to it that you don’t make anyone feel pressured or shamed into giving.
Some people’s past experiences with staff giving are very negative, leaving them feeling resentful, because – either at their current or previous workplace – they witnessed supervisors directly or indirectly pressuring employees into donating to “the cause.”
Each person’s financial situation is different, and nonprofit employees in particular often don’t make a great deal of money, so creating a festive environment that focuses on your mission and overall (dollar) goal is a better strategy, versus lamenting how your participation goal is still lacking.
Owen* recounts how his mother deposited an empty envelope into the church collection plate every week, so that nobody would think poorly of her, lest she pass the plate without “donating.”
In fact, his mother gave quite generously to their church, by writing one large check per year. She worried, though, that not being perceived by the congregation as giving on a regular basis could possibly negatively affect her social standing, or make her the target of speculation or gossip. She felt it was worth the effort to give the impression with the weekly empty envelopes. Owen still chuckles about this childhood memory today.
As with any other campaign, it’s essential to thank your donors when it’s over. Make sure to report on the results to everyone (donating or not – prepare for next year!), and translate the overall figures into something meaningful: “With the $XX,000 we raised, we were able to serve an additional Y,000 hot meals to Z00 homebound individuals!”
Photos and/or video of recent accomplishments are also very impactful, and remember to utilize your social media channels when delivering these messages. (Make it easy for your new ambassadors to hit the [share] button!)
Finally, track not only your financial successes, but your personal successes. Which staff members became more engaged or responded the most positively? You’ll want to explore recruiting them for your campaign committee next year, but don’t wait nine or ten months to do it – ask them now about their interest and ideas.
Keep the base of the pyramid strong