Friday, June 24, 2011

How Benevity's "Spark" Transforms Workplace Giving

More from my conversation with Jana Taylor of Benevity.www, This time we talked more specifically about their newest product Spark, an online platform for employee giving and volunteering.

Employee engagement is a big buzz world for companies in general. It takes time to build that kind of engagement, to give employees a voice  in a many areas of their worklife, but certainly not in workplace giving programs. Companies are asking employees to give and it is from their heart and yet they haven't been given the opportunity to express what it is they care about.

We have been around for three years now. Spark workplace giving has been around only for a short while. We are very interested in the whole concept of engaging employees in corporate philanthropy.

When we were talking to companies about how to engage their employees and consumers in giving Companies told us that they really like the idea of workplace giving and even told us what were the challenges.Some of the challenges that the companies have told us about is that they are struggling to deliver workplace programs that are truly engaging, that have broad adoption and generate interest with their employees.

Likewise on the employee side, there is quite a lot research that links giving with employee engagement. So they don't want to just give their money away to charity they want to engage their company employees in doing this. Employees have increasing expectations from their companies to help them give back and they also have increasing expectations that they live in a web based world . They want a seat at the table and they want to participate more proactively in giving back.
Unfortunately a lot of the programs that are in existence are really for status quo, check the box off kind of thing. But they are very top down, they don't even involve the passion of the employees. A lot of times they outsource programs to charity aggregators for the workplace giving programs, simply a digital touch form, That doesn't really align with the web based world their employees live in.

I think when companies look at their goals then,yes, they want to be good corporate citizens and they want to engage their employees, if they really want to boost their employee participation and engage their employees and move the needle on other employee related issues, When you look at the metrics on attracting, motivating and retaining of great talent, then they have to do workplace giving in a new way.

The tool that we built for employee giving and volunteering, it's called Spark. It allows the company a tool that is already built and it is a very engaging way to get employees involved with company volunteering and giving, and it can be done in a way that aligns with the companies charities that they support. Using Spark they can enable their employees to give to any registered charity and they can create any campaigns around individual charities or campaigns around funds. They can create the company fund, for whatever cause, a real time matching campaign where an employee can donate to any charity or to the company fund and the company can match that.

There is a reporting section within Spark that the administrators can see, where they can create reports on any different aspect of the programs and they can see the result of the campaigns so that they will be able to look at and track the metrics and success. And for employee giving a lot of companies have an internal or external employee engagement survey and where they can ask questions around how well they are we doing with employee engagement.

There are many ways the platform can be used and we continue to spark their imagination in terms of how it can be used. But there are specific opportunities and whenever a company uses the Benevity platform, so that is why we developed Spark on top of the Benevity platform, in a sense we built our own car on top of the engine.

Giving is personal, it is from the heart. People need a way to tap into supporting the causes that resonate with them personally. At the same time it gives companies the software that's their own brand. They can roll out their own program and at the same time have the ability to create the cause funds. They have the ability to create campaigns that align company giving with employee giving. It is an easy way to communicate with employees what causes the company supports.

It really inspires employees. One person told me recently that when she saw Spark it had shifted her thinking. She said the way that they had been doing it it was a chore and a process. Spark makes it more of an experience.

We are building a volunteering model that will give companies' opportunities to communicate internal or external volunteering opportunities and will be able to create campaigns around volunteering, where employees can then select the opportunities that resonate with them, create accounts and then track them. And for employee giving a lot of companies have an internal or external employee engagement survey and where they can ask questions around how well they are we doing with employee engagement.

Development team is working on right now the ability for companies to reward for volunteerism, with donor dollars in an employees account.

We are very passionate about helping companies with their corporate giving programs.

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