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Building a Buzz Around Workplace Giving

Robert W. Sprague

There should be a direct and overt connection between an organization’s “giving back” initiatives and its core values.

If there is no such connection? Maybe the values aren’t really values—or maybe the giving back is a thinly-disguised PR play.

If there is a connection? Giving back is a powerful way to build engagement with hard-to-recruit and hard-to-retain employees.

There should be a direct and overt connection between an organization’s “giving back” initiatives and its core values.

If there is no such connection? Maybe the values aren’t really values—or maybe the giving back is a thinly-disguised PR play.

If there is a connection? Giving back is a powerful way to build engagement with hard-to-recruit and hard-to-retain employees.

It has become very clear that Millennials and GenZers, particularly (but not exclusively), are looking for jobs with meaning and employers with purpose. They are quick to resign from positions that do not align with their personal values, and eager to join with organizations that they see serving a social good.

The missing link may be awareness. Like the proverbial tree falling in the forest, giving back initiatives may not evoke a connection to an organization’s values without specific engagement efforts. Consider these steps:

1. Revisit your core values.

Are they really core? Are they distinctive? Are they part of day-to-day discourse at your organization?

A great definition from Jim Collins, author of Built to Last, is that real core values are things organizations do all the time—even if it hurts them. Real core values should be on the tip of everyone’s tongue, frequently quoted, and consulted specifically when challenging decisions need to be made. Otherwise, no matter how good they look on the poster, they’re probably not core values.

2. Revisit your ESG program.

Are the causes and organizations you are giving to congruent with your value system?

For example, if your organization claims “diversity” as a core value, it certainly must actively support the advancement of diverse individuals and groups, even if such support risks alienating core stakeholders. Similarly, can you point to the ways that you are giving back to “integrity” and “teamwork”?

3. Crowdsource your giving decisions.

Donations are nice. Giving back in ways that are identified, suggested, and shared with employees are better. Consider all the ways you can involve your employee population in ESG decision-making, as well as actual social action. The dividends in pride and alignment will be much stronger and more sincere if your people have a role in determining where the giving goes.

4. It’s not just money.

One of the most powerful statements an organization makes is to pay its employees to serve. The resulting in-kind giving is often of equal or greater value, and it has the additional benefit of generating camaraderie, shared experiences, and rich corporate lore.

5. Tell the story.

Communicating about giving back is delicate. Bragging about giving back is unseemly and inauthentic. But the power of ESG initiatives to inspire, align, and build loyalty can’t be realized without making their existence known. In the best case, giving back becomes a part of an organization’s fabric, encoded in its DNA. Achieving this requires ongoing, consistent, and carefully crafted storytelling and storydoing.

Yes& has seen the value of its own giving boost alignment with our I’ll-Get-Your-Back-itude core value and “positivity + possibility” brand. If we can help you assess your own ESG program and build a buzz, internally or externally, please give…us a call.

Yes& is the Washington, DC-based marketing agency that brings commercial, association, and government clients the unlimited power of “&” – using a full suite of branding, digital, event, marketing, public relations, and creative capabilities to deliver meaningful and measurable results.

Let’s talk about what the power of "&" can do for you.

Robert W. Sprague
Robert W. Sprague
President & CEO

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