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Stakeholder Capitalism

Research Shows Shift in Corporate Giving to Align with Employee Interests

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Despite facing economic barriers, Americans maintained charitable giving during the pandemic, especially toward human services organizations and end-of-year giving. Additionally, employees appear to be increasingly looking to their companies to help support the causes they cared about, and companies responded with meaningful multi-year commitments and giving programs that fulfilled their employees’ sense of purpose. 

Research from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI and released today highlighted these and other trends in U.S. workplace and individual giving. 

Businesses aligned corporate giving efforts with community needs

With many employees working remotely in 2020, companies transformed their giving strategies to meet their needs. The report found that innovation and technology were critical to aligning corporate giving efforts with community needs and employee purpose.  

Unsurprisingly, in the U.S. there was a particular focus on giving related to COVID-19 relief, totaling a value of $1.1 billion in U.S.-based corporate and corporate foundation donations. 

Around 35% of COVID-19–relief donations in the U.S. by companies were specific to health-related causes. Based on a small sampling, the research suggests that individuals who gave to COVID-19–related causes were more motivated to help others and improve the wellbeing of society. 

Trusted payment and business technology company leverages data to understand employee giving priorities 

Companies like Deluxe increasingly use data to help align their corporate giving efforts with the causes their employees care about most. By evaluating data on their dashboard, Deluxe noticed that its employees were interested in supporting COVID-19-relief efforts, such as a focus on health equity, food insecurity, and racial injustice.

“With a better understanding of employee giving trends, we were able to allocate resources toward urgent and important causes our employees care most about, and our communities need,” said Jane Elliott, Chief Communications and Human Resources Officer at Deluxe. “This meant organizing a food drive, supporting employee-led social justice initiatives, and expanding paid-time-off for employees who volunteered between eight and 24 hours.”

 Deluxe Employee Volunteer Event 

Companies and individuals adapt giving strategies to reflect a changing environment

As the 2021 giving season approaches, the report also provides suggestions on how companies can take lessons from the report’s findings to once again activate their employees and empower them to give. The report suggests that companies should:

  • Align corporate giving priorities with causes supported by employees and community needs.
  • Track and measure impact to understand effectiveness of their giving programs.
  • Consider whether and how technology can help power corporate, employee, and community purposes.
  • Adapt to the realities of changing workplaces.

“What’s clear is that employees and companies are adapting their workplace giving to reflect shifting priorities during a global pandemic,” said Una Osili, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Research and International Programs at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. “Looking ahead, companies need to track and better understand the effectiveness and reach of corporate giving programs. End of year giving presents an opportunity for companies and employees to give intentionally toward causes they not only care about, but toward efforts where they can make meaningful and measurable impact.”

Explore the report findings and key insights:

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