What are we asking people to do, exactly? What do they get out of it? Is it fun? Rewarding? Easy? Will they learn something? Do something impactful?
By Grady Lee, CEO, CorpsGiving
Assessing the efficacy of recognition or incentive programs in employee giving and volunteering is an entertaining topic of discussion for me. I can hear people say, “We have this really great giving and volunteering program. Now, if we could only get someone to do it!”
When people talk more about the incentive to get people to do something than about the action itself, it doesn’t smell right. Good products sell themselves and so do good experiences. If you have to sell volunteerism to your employees really hard, I urge you evaluate where you are putting resources and attention. Because you could be focused on the lipstick rather than looking at the pig.
Let’s look at the pig. What are we asking people to do, exactly? What do they get out of it? Is it fun? Rewarding? Easy? Will they learn something? Do something impactful?
Volunteering and giving are experiences. After managing volunteer events for nearly 150,000 people on five continents, three truths about the experience of giving emerge:
Volunteering and Giving are Social Activities
The experience and effects of these activities are exponentially felt when done with others. You can donate money or volunteer by yourself, but getting a department or like-minded group together makes it a party. We are social beings, and we like social activities.
Giving Begins at Conception
When someone finally gets to the point of giving time or money to a charity, it is usually at the end of a long and tiresome road. There are dozens of places to search for giving opportunities, but there aren’t many places to find good opportunities. Donors Choose is the best example of how to make giving money a good experience. If you haven’t done it – go do it and take notes. Wish I could say the same thing about a volunteer search engine.
The place between desire and action is where we lose people.
It’s the Transformation, Stupid
No one ever said, “We almost finished, and it was awesome! Can’t wait to do it again.”
People who are giving of themselves, want to feel like they are making a difference. They want to see it. If they can see their power and their effect, they will want to repeat it. If they can’t see their impact, there are many other things people could do with their time and money.
Success is participation. Not gerrymandered participation - real participation. If your program is social, easy and impactful, success takes care of itself. Smart incentives can be powerful, but only if the thing you are incentivizing is worth it.
Be honest, are you putting lipstick on a pig?
Many more effective ways of volunteerism and giving will be discussed in depth at the only conference dedicated solely to employee engagement – the Charities@Work best Practices Summit taking place on April 3 and 4 in Manhattan. Learn more about the conference and register.
About the Author
Grady Lee is co-founder/CEO of CorpsGiving and co-founder/COO of RockCorps. RockCorps inspires youth to give back to their community by organizing volunteer events and concert celebrations for volunteering. Sister company, CorpsGiving, organizes custom, turnkey volunteer events for companies looking to engage their employees. So far, nearly 150,000 people have given back to their community with RockCorps or CorpsGiving across the world. It is just the beginning.