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Large-scale, corporate-wide initiatives driven from the top down are often the standard approach to fundraising. But more and more companies are choosing to cultivate philanthropic goals and activities by engaging employees at a grassroots level.
In recent years, we have been encouraging our people to organize smaller-scale fundraising events for causes that are important to them. The only caveat is that the causes we choose must use technology – the focus of our business – to make life better for their target audience. This approach has done much to create deeper levels of employee engagements, while delivering impressive results in terms of fundraising dollars.
Based on our experience, here are five guiding principles for thinking big to plan successful small-scale fundraisers.
#1: Align with Corporate Culture
Softchoice has a community-minded culture. Monthly beer carts and our fondness for collaboration tools speak to our passion for connecting and sharing with one another. When it comes to fundraising, we’ve had great success with events like poker tournaments and karaoke nights because our demographic is relatively young and people enjoy spending time together outside of business hours. If your culture is different, driving fundraising activities through other avenues like email or during lunch hours may be the way to go. The key is making sure your efforts align to your culture.
#2: Make it Fun, Make it Popular
Want to get everyone in the organization excited about your fundraiser? Make it an activity they already love. Organizing fundraisers around activities your co-workers would do in their spare time anyway – like a dodge ball tournament, or a hockey or fantasy football pool – is a surefire way to boost participation.
#3: Engage Your Co-Workers
One of our favorite phrases at Softchoice is “it takes a community,” and planning an employee-led fundraiser is no different. Even the smallest event has a ton of moving parts. Seek out volunteers to help you plan, promote, and execute your fundraiser. Leveraging the strengths and unique talents of co-workers can help deliver a great event while dialing up engagement.
#4: See the Trees for the Forest
It’s easy to question the impact of smaller-scale fundraising compared to a single initiative with the full might and marketing power of the company behind it. But if your smaller, grassroots initiatives are all moving toward the same goal, the energy and results you drive can be just as impressive. A goal is key and so too is communicating your progress at every step of the journey.
#5: Follow the Warm Current
The C-Suite still has an important role to play in employee-led fundraising, but it’s all about striking a balance. Giving employees the autonomy to choose causes they care about, while providing encouragement and incentives, is key.
Giving employees a greater say in where their fundraising dollars go sparked the creation of Softchoice’s Power-2-the-People campaign. Through P2P, any employee can nominate a charity they’d like to support – as long as the money raised goes towards technology that directly benefits the individual or community in need. To add a little incentive, the three charities that drive the highest level of internal engagement and raise the most money earn a share of $25,000 provided by Softchoice. A little bit of competition is what turns an ordinary event into something extraordinary.
Involvement from senior leadership reinforces that grassroots giving is part of the corporate culture and a very worthwhile endeavor.