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Driving Engagement through Employee-led Philanthropy

Culture | Posted on March 15, 2013 by Nicole Bernard

How do you get employees to come out and support a local charitable initiative on Toronto’s snowiest day in two years?  Have them take the lead on the cause!  According to the 2011 Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT survey, employee-led volunteer initiatives can significantly improve employee engagement, and subsequently improve productivity.  The activities can create a positive work culture and brand by uniting employees across departments behind a common cause and help improve morale and establish friendly relations.

As a new intern at Softchoice, I learned this first-hand when I volunteered at a fundraising event called Tokens 4 Change. The event is held every February to raise money for Youth Without Shelter; a Toronto-based, emergency youth residence and referral agency focused on removing barriers that prevent our homeless youth from becoming independent.

Even on a crippling wintery day, our team of Softchoice employees joined the ranks of more than 400 volunteers who braved the snow and canvassed for donations along the participating TTC subway stations! Despite the freezing bursts of wind blowing through the station doors, all of the volunteers had smiles on their faces. Their perseverance paid off – the event raised almost $90,000 in cash donations, and $250,000 in awareness advertising and in-kind donations!

Softchoice first became involved in this event after the company launched itokens 4 change 2ts Power 2 the People campaign in 2011.  The campaign was started by Softchoice Cares, the company’s employee-led philanthropic program, which allows employees to nominate local not-for-profit organizations. Human Resources  Analyst and Softchoice Cares Board Member, Jen Wood, nominated Youth Without Shelter in 2012 and has since coordinated volunteer efforts across the Toronto office to support the cause.

By seeing the amount of enthusiasm my fellow coworkers had for the event, I began to understand why volunteering has become such a strong component of the Softchoice culture. Giving employees the freedom to be the driving force behind fundraising activities, Softchoice is aligning our values across the entire organization – ultimately fostering a sense of community amongst our teams, partners, and customers. So why not let your employees take the reins. Not only will you be helping the communities around you but also boosting employee engagement and camaraderie in the process – a win-win for everyone!

Does your organization support employee-led philanthropic initiatives? Share some of your employee-led success stories here!

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