The Real-World Impact of Employee Giving Programs

Mar 6, 2019 10:00 AM ET

We all want to make a difference in our communities, and the wider world around us. We see daily evidence of the real and insidious problems that we face as a society. Hunger. Poverty. Homelessness. Civil rights violations and abuses. Health crises. Ever-diminishing natural resources. This can be a very depressing list so I won’t make it exhaustive. Yet in the face of this much turmoil, when I think of problems our society faces, I’m not disheartened. In fact, I am hopeful.

I’m hopeful because I know there are a variety of industries and organizations addressing these complex problems as I type this: government entities, community-based organizations, private sector institutions, and my favorite, the more than 1.5 million tax-exempt charities whose sole purpose is to address these global concerns.

I’m hopeful because our driving need to better the world around us is what sustains the good works of these nonprofits. Americans are incredibly generous – to the tune of more than $400 billion in 2017, in fact.

I’m hopeful, perhaps most of all, because I know a secret: among all the ways to make a lasting difference, there’s one powerful method that supports nonprofits—the very institutions whose sole purpose is to solve these problems—and that method also benefits nonprofits, and the donor, and the organizations that host the program alike.

That method is workplace giving, also known as employee giving or payroll giving, which brings in $5 billion annually for charities. Of course, workplace giving has been around for years – but like all good things, workplace giving has evolved.

America’s Charities is on a mission to spread the word about workplace giving today. We launched a new education campaign, "Saving the World, One Paycheck at a Time," to help shed light on this superior giving mechanism and to enlist your help in spreading the word about this vital tool for social impact.

In short, we want workplace giving to go from one of the best-kept secrets to one of the most popular giving methods, because the more we know and understand how to support causes we care about and create sustainable social change, the more we can make a collective difference. 

Luckily, we are not the only secret keepers. There are very smart people who not only understand workplace giving as it is today, but are working daily to maximize the efforts of workplace giving for their own communities.

One such person is Junelle Kroontje, Manager, King County Employee Giving Program (KCEGP), Seattle, Washington. Last year, Junelle sent an email to several industry leaders, including our own President and CEO Jim Starr, in response to a Nonprofit Quarterly opinion piece, “The Ailing CFC: One More Canary in the Workplace giving Coal Mine?” In fact, it was Junelle’s beautifully crafted words that inspired our Saving the World, One Paycheck at a Time campaign, and so we thought it fitting to launch the campaign with her during a webinar we hosted on January 20, moderated by Emily Gross, our director of client engagement. Soon we’ll publish a recap of the webinar Q&A, but don’t wait: you can find the webinar recording here, and the PDF of the presentation here

At the heart of our Saving the World campaign is expert testimony. In the next few months we will pose these questions to other leaders across a variety of industries:

  • What would happen if employee giving programs didn’t exist?
  • What real-world difference does it make when employees give through workplace giving programs as opposed to other fundraising methods like Facebook, GoFundMe, or Text2Give? 
  • What makes payroll deduction giving more beneficial to charities, employee donors, and employers as opposed to other donation payment methods like credit card, PayPal, and check?  
  • What changes (for better or worse) have you seen in workplace giving overall the past five years? What do you see coming in the next few years? How do you think workplace giving will evolve?
  • In your opinion, how can we as a sector best showcase workplace giving to the public so it is valued as the vital mechanism of social impact that it is? 
  • Beyond the benefits of workplace giving as a charity fundraising mechanism, how else does workplace giving help nonprofits and employers streamline and accomplish their social impact goals? How does it benefit employee donors?

If you are as hopeful as I am, if you are as inspired as America’s Charities, and if you agree that workplace giving is an incredibly valuable tool for social change, we hope you will participate in our campaign. Here’s how:

  1. Register for our next webinar on March 26, at 1 pm ET, as we discuss these questions with Susan O’Brien, manager of the New Jersey Employees Charitable Campaign (NJECC):
  2. Share your workplace giving story on social media. Tell us why you participate in workplace giving as a charity, employer, employee donor, or in another role, and we’ll share it with our own networks – but be sure to use our hashtag #ChangeStartsAtWork so we see it!
  3. Join the workplace giving movement: Whether you are an individual, nonprofit, or employer – you can help us bring more resources to nonprofits changing our world and we can help you get started: