lipsAcross the world, employee expectations of the companies they work for are dramatically expanding when it comes to corporate philanthropy.  As such, companies are being forced to respond to this groundswell of interest in charitable activities, as they must do if they hope to attract and retain top talent.

A recent report by America’s Charities revealed that 68% of employers report that their employees expect them to support volunteerism and 50% of employers are moving to year-round engagement with their workplace giving programs.  Eighty percent of surveyed companies offer employees the ability to contribute to nonprofits via automatic payroll deductions, 70% offer matching gifts as a component of their volunteering and giving program, and 60% percent are incorporating contests and events as a way to add fun to workplace giving programs and keep them vibrant.

According to the report, Snapshot 2014: A Rising Tide of Expectations–Corporate Giving, Employee Engagement and Social Impact, employees expect their companies to provide:

  • An effective, contemporary workplace giving program

  • The ability to use work time to volunteer

  • Opportunities to engage in skills-based volunteer activities

  • Matching gifts for employee contributions to nonprofits

More studies increasingly bolster the economic value to companies of strong corporate philanthropy programs.  Aside from the oft-discussed benefits of increased employee engagement, recruitment and retention, new research shows that employee engagement in corporate social responsibility activities can significantly improve job performance, in part by highlighting common values with both customers and the company.  A recent report, conducted by the ESMT European School of Management and Technology,  found that environmental initiatives, charitable giving and ethical business practices help employees identify more strongly with their companies and serve as ice breakers and points of conversation for employee and customer dialogue.

With the “rising tide of expectations” afoot, traditional corporate giving to support urgent causes such as hunger, education, and health is also strong in some business sectors.  For example, 3BL Media reports that according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s latest annual corporate giving survey, the financial industry is one sector that scores high in charitable donations, with standout donors including:

  • Wells Fargo donated $315 million for housing, local and regional causes, and human services as well as for education and community development.

  • Citigroup gave $137 million for community development and education.

  • JPMorgan Chase donated $183 million for minority issues, housing, veterans, education, and community development.

  • Goldman Sachs directed $241 million to women’s issues, community development, veterans, and education.

  • Capital One set aside $55 million for housing, education, and community development issues.

  • US Bancorp gave $47 million for arts and culture, the United Way, education, and community development.

A strong corporate philanthropy pedigree means that a company is leveraging all of the resources within reach to engage its employees through a commitment to social impact.  Volunteering and giving programs are no longer just about one annual “done in a day” event or a seasonal giving drive.  Rather, companies must consider the 360-degree view of their philanthropic potential – from gifts in kind to the most recent developments in employee community engagement.

Ultimately, the consensus seems to be that what most engages employees is what inspires them, and inspiration comes from a culture of giving back based on a demonstrable dedication to results.  The days of lip service are over; it’s time to get to work.