Building a charitable corporate culture is good for employee engagement and your business



Job seekers know what they’re looking for, and a surprising number of companies are still missing the mark.

In a recent survey conducted by Telus, 60 per cent of working Canadians stated that when searching for their next job, it’s important that their future employer takes an active role in supporting charitable events. Yet fewer than half of Canadian workers indicated their current company is doing so.

Millennials are the most active participants in charitable work and the largest demographic currently seeking employment, which presents an opportunity for local businesses to recruit talent while also making a difference in their community. According to the survey, the majority of millennials say it is important when they apply to work at a company that it partners with non-profit organizations and helps provide fundraising support.

Consider the following ways to encourage volunteering that align with your company’s values and time availability:

  1. Start small and scale up

Just like starting a business, beginning a new charity initiative needs to start small. Rather than spreading yourself too thin, select one goal or mission that is important to you or your business, and work to ramp up passion for this cause. Begin with a manageable number of events per year. For some organizations, this may be one commitment annually; for others, it may be one per month. Make it an achievable goal that will build excitement and energy, rather than create stress and time conflicts.

  1. Organize committees

The biggest backers of the cause should form charitable committees within your office. These leaders will take on the challenge of encouraging the rest of your team to get involved, organize events, collect donations and fundraise. Having a committee rather than a singular leader creates a culture of open dialogue, encourages collaborative teamwork to uncover new ideas, and unites different departments and management levels within your company.

  1. Make it enjoyable

Depending on your corporate culture, you may find that different types of activities motivate your team in different ways. Some offices enjoy a friendly competitiveness that lends itself well to team-based events. Busy professionals who are interested in supporting a cause but don’t have enough time may enjoy a lunch-hour charity auction, or they may prefer to donate money to support team members who are donating their time.

  1. Make it easy

Most important, be sure to make it easy: if time is tight, setting up an employer donation matching platform can encourage team members to donate to charities and causes that are meaningful to them, and their donations will go even further if the company commits to matching donations up to a certain amount. Events that are hosted during office hours or onsite make it easy for people who have children, or a long commute and can’t commit much time. If you’re just getting started, many charities will offer suggestions or even come to host events such as blood drives or filling backpacks for underprivileged kids. If your organization is interested in volunteering outside of general work hours, pick an initiative that’s appropriate for most age groups so that employees can bring their families. 

  1. Consider volunteering that costs (almost) nothing

The commitment to support a charity through your business can be intimidating. Time is money, and understandably paying your employees to volunteer on company time is a consideration. Decide how much time you can afford to commit to, and work within that allotment to ramp up your charity program. And remember that you’re investing in the long-term happiness of your employees, which is valuable in and of itself.

  1. Build this into your corporate culture

As your charitable work increases, begin shaping it to become part of your organization’s culture. If your employees feel they are supported in their volunteer efforts, the fear of losing some work time will diminish. Charity begins from the top, and if your organization’s upper management participates, the rest will follow suit.

With a little foresight and flexibility, you can develop volunteer-friendly policies and initiatives that will enable your employees to participate with local organizations in a way that fits their busy lives and reinforces their values. Not only will this have a major impact on your workforce, it will benefit the community where you live and work, too.