5 Strategies to Implementing a Successful Employee Giving Campaign

August 8, 2018 Patricia M. Ranzini

Starting your own employee giving campaign is not for the faint of heart!  It may sound easy, but in truth it takes a team of people and a lot of moving parts to make it successful.  Gone are the days of just sending out pledge forms in interoffice mail and expecting people to respond.  It takes much more to get the attention of your employees, especially clinical staff and in larger organizations.  The great news is that if done well, an employee campaign has many benefits beyond the funds raised for your programs.

Here at SoutheastHEALTH Foundation, our “Employee Helping Hands” campaign has increased employee morale, inspired pride in our programs and people, raised awareness of the SoutheastHEALTH Foundation, served as a benchmark for employee engagement, and created an instant sustained giving program, all while growing in popularity and size every year.  Sounds too good to be true!

So how do you do it?

  1. Start at the Top!
    • Secure your budget. Before implementing any type of campaign, have the support of your hospital CEO and Foundation board members and get an approved budget. A good starting budget estimate is around $1.50 – $2 per person, depending on the prizes and giveaways you choose.  Expenses include marketing, printing, prizes, and giveaways.
    • First solicit your board, then senior leadership, then management – all before asking your employees for a dime! Announcing 100% participation from senior leadership goes a long way.
      • Tip: Personalized emails to leadership will help secure total giving. Include progress toward the goal of 100% support.
  1. Recruit Your Champions!
    • At the Southeast Health Foundation, we begin planning our campaign almost three months prior to the official campaign kickoff.
    • We recruit an Employee Campaign Committee (ECC) with between 10-15 members who help share the message, timing, and plan for the campaign. The ECC meets a minimum of three times. They help present at the official kickoff, decide on prizes and branding, help recruit Employee Champions, and gather patient stories.
    • After you have your Employee Campaign Committee, recruit your Employee Champions. Recruit a champion from each department, from your hospital’s service lines to HR and development. Ask managers to put forward their best talent and give them a chance to shine.
      • Tip: A ratio of one champion to every 20-30 staff members is best. Anything over that, and they will not be able to easily track their assigned employees.
  1. Work the Plan!
    • Have a defined timeframe for the campaign. We have found that a campaign that runs too long does not increase giving and tends to lose momentum.  An intensive 2-week campaign works great!
    • Distribute materials and use personalized envelopes. The main responsibility of the Champions is to track the pledge forms to employees and make sure they receive a form back from every staff member on their teams.  They turn their assigned forms in to the Foundation office.
      • Tip: Keep in mind, the forms are confidential! The only people who know individual giving amounts are in the Foundation office. Senior leadership only receives the percentage of participation in each department.  This is important in establishing trust with your employee donors who may fear a punitive response if they choose not to give.
    • Accept gifts of payroll deduction, check, cash, credit card, or one-time payroll deduction on a specified paycheck. The majority of our gifts come in through payroll deduction – the best sustained giving program you will most likely have!
    • Create a timeline for campaign marketing. Know before the campaign timeframe what you are going to publish and how often.  Market the campaign throughout the organization and in any external facilities.  Push out campaign announcements in internal publications even before the official campaign kickoff and then every week throughout the campaign.
      • Tip: Consider weekly announcements of prize winners that go out at the end of each week.
  1. Make it Fun!
    • Hold an inspiring kickoff. Identify a spokesperson who has been touched by one of the Foundation’s programs and ask them to share their story.  The ECC should serve as cheerleaders during the kickoff.  Serve lunch and keep the event to one hour so it’s easy for staff to attend.  Attendance prizes can lend some fun and encouragement.
    • Encourage competition between departments. Publish participation rates (never total giving) from each department regularly throughout the campaign.  You will start getting calls from managers and champions wanting to know their progress, so providing regular updates will help you manage all these requests more easily.
    • Suggest fun games for departments. One of the craziest games that we’ve seen included a pie in the face of the department manager, but most departments encourage turning in a pledge with candy or small tokens from the Employee Champion.
    • Have giveaways and prizes and advertise them often.
  1. Finally – Celebrate Your Success!
    • Market your final total of dollars raised and participation from employees on your intranet and internal publications. Celebrate the success of those who had over 50% participation in their departments.
      • Tip: Departments that achieve 100% participation should get a special visit from the Foundation office with gifts. Snacks work great!
    • Be sure to highlight how the donations will make a difference so employees feel good about their giving and are more likely to participate again next year.

Donors to the Employee Giving Campaign are integrated into the regular recognition and cultivation cycle and are included as any other donor would be in our Foundation’s honor rolls and mailings.  We cannot ask for a better endorsement for our organizations than the support of our employees! This year we are also looking at potentially launching a “Forever Green” program, meaning we would not need to re-solicit those employees every year who want to donate via payroll deduction in perpetuity.

Although these strategies go far beyond a simple interoffice mailing, your effort will be rewarded with a successful campaign – most likely exceeding your expectations!  Even if your team doesn’t have the resources to implement all of the above suggestions, implementing even one or two will add a boost to your campaign.  Pick a few and see how they help – I guarantee your efforts will be rewarded! 

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