How Do You Define Success in Workplace Giving?

measure-successHow do you define success? For every human endeavor this is an integral question. Defining what constitutes success or failure is the main driver for progress and movement. It’s how we measure our performance. It’s how we build a better world. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) teams and Community Affairs staff attempt daily to affect this kind of substantive change using workplace philanthropic tools like employee giving, volunteering, and matching along with the other tools in their arsenal.

CSR generally, through methodologies, agreements, and tools like the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) or Global Compact, has become an increasingly metric driven effort. We at FrontStream believe this is a positive. Yet how do we measure the success of workplace giving initiatives?

This is an important question because we truly believe that workplace philanthropy is vital to successful CSR. Consider that a company’s largest expense is payroll and that every organization’s greatest asset is its human capital. This is the spirit that drives the sort of innovations, large and small, that awe us daily while improving lives through our company’s products and services.

Yet despite their importance, these programs lag behind the movement to quantify CSR impacts. Here are some of the metrics that we increasingly call forth to help our corporate clients measure the success of their workplace programs.

Your own CSR Goals
This metric is key. Your CSR goals are the well-considered positive impact you want your company, in all its activities, to have on the world. While employees should have some choice in how they impact their communities, if there is buy-in to your larger objectives (as reflected in where your employees choose to give their time and money) that is a definite marker of success for your efforts.

Consider one FrontStream client, a Fortune 500 financial services firm with 9,000 global employees, $40 billion in assets, and $10 billion in revenues in 2012. This company has taken tremendous strides to aid in disaster relief efforts around the world. So when an analysis reveals that 11% of the nonprofits their organization chose to support in 2013 were engaged in domestic and international disaster relief efforts (compared to 1% for the average workplace giving campaign in FrontStream’s industry-leading sample) that is a measure of success and a laudable achievement to be built upon.

Average donations
This one is simple. For company A, a company committed to educating the leaders of tomorrow, the average donation to educational charities among its employees was $730 in 2013. At the same time, employees of client A gave $200 to Human Services charities, $350 to international charities, and $270 on average. Giving reflects caring. Resultantly for FrontStream this data, if available, can be a measure of success and provide clues for your corporate communications and efforts to boost engagement.


Where are employees choosing to give and volunteer
Company B acts in every way as an entity to support domestic environmental initiatives. Across 1.3 million employee donations in 2013, FrontStream data reveals that 1.2% of donations were for charities endeavoring to support environmental causes. An analysis of Client B’s 2013 employee giving reveals that 17% of the charities their employees designated for their donations worked in this realm. Given the company’s goals, this benchmark constitutes success.

Participation rates
The classic measure of engagement, participation rates are valid as a measure of success be it in a presidential election, fundraising initiative, or workplace giving campaign. The more the merrier. 

Meeting your own goals
It goes without saying that if you set a goal, be it for the number of dollars you want raised or the number of hours you would like your employees to volunteer in their community in a given year, meeting that goal is a measure of success.

Some of these metrics require benchmarking your efforts against a wider sample of activity. FrontStream aids our clients in this effort with specialized reporting, expert account management & operations, and in-depth analytics that takes advantage of data from millions of donations. Others on this list involve your own internal processes. In all cases these are some quantifiable ways to gauge the success or failure of your workplace philanthropic initiatives within a given year and over the course of time. Taken together, these metrics can help your workplace initiatives, and by extension the broader CSR initiatives in which they reside, move forward. Let’s create a better world.

FrontStream Holdings LLC is a registered ISO of Elavon, Inc. Georgia, Chase Paymentech Solutions, LLC, First National Bank of Omaha, Omaha, NE, BMO Harris Bank, N.A., Chicago, IL, Deutsche Bank, USA, New York, NY and Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Walnut Creek, CA.