Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Responding To Employee Charity Requests With Grace

A friend of mine told me of a recent holiday collection drive that the employees at her company wanted to implement for a local food pantry. The small company that she worked for responded that they could not authorize the drive because it would appear as favoritism of one charity over another. What they did do was to allow the employees to bring in their own collection boxes, as it would not appear as being company sanctioned.

Since I do not know all the facts, such as whether the company has a charity giving plan, how they choose which charities to give to, and how they engage their employees in their charitable giving, I cannot make any comments on their decision. But this case points out the importance of a company to include in any planning of their philanthropy the very important issue of employee engagement. This broad issue must also address how to respond to specific requests from the employees to support their favorite charities. In addition, the plan should address how a company should respond with flexibility and grace, to the immediate and urgent causes that employees wish to support, not only during the holidays but at other times of disasters or crises.

Responding to employees caring about the world during especially difficult times, will help them feel supported and will motivate and engage them in participating in the long term philanthropy program of the company-another subject to be covered in the future.


Tom Bailey said...

That is very interesting - I have not seen overwhelming employee interest in charity outside of religious charity.

This is a very interesting topic as my business grows and you offered a unique viewpoint of favoritism that I never considered much.

Thanks for sharing this.

Tom Bailey

Lalia Helmer said...

Thanks Tom, I really appreciate your thoughtful comment. Indeed many companies experience employees coming to them to support some favorite charity, at any time of year, whether it's a run to raise money, their kid's school, or a cause that has personal meaning. Businesses need to treat these requests differently than the direct requests from charities.