The case for nonprofit-company partnerships for Win-Win-Win Fundraising
By Randall Anderson, Chief Operating Officer at Listen Up Español
Is it really more rewarding to give than to receive? Many of us know how great it feels when we donate to a cause that is dear to our hearts. It is also known that gift-matching programs have been around for many years and are commonly used as a recruiting tool for businesses. However, the connection between corporate donations and employee performance is not as widely known. At Listen Up Español we have proven that the connection between being socially conscious and donating to nonprofit organizations can increase employee performance. Ultimately, this makes it a Win-Win-Win situation.
Let’s start with the facts. According to GIVING USA, corporate giving in the United States amounts to approximately $17.88 billion a year. This is an impressive number and the benefits companies receive from corporate giving are well known; some corporations may obtain tax breaks from their donations, while others may experience increased community and political support, and the remainder may simply enjoy helping those in need. For most companies, tax breaks and community support are where the benefits end, but at Listen Up Español we discovered that strategically approaching corporate giving could result in benefits for everyone involved.
Listen Up Español is a call center founded in 2006. Early on and with great ambition the company founders, Craig Handley and Tony Ricciardi, set a goal to give a billion dollars to charity. Although the company growth was significant in its early years, this goal was risky considering the company was still young. We, as an executive team, knew that we had to be creative in how we approached this goal, because we also wanted charitable giving to work for the business. We asked ourselves, “What if it is possible to retain all of the existing benefits from corporate giving and also improve employee performance by adjusting the company’s giving strategy?” Then we decided to test several initiatives in order to find out.
First, we decided to directly involve employees in the decision to donate time and money to a nonprofit organization. Then we connected donations to employee sales numbers by offering to donate a set amount for each successful sale. With these changes, we were able to use corporate giving as an employee incentive to increase sales performance. Regular examination of the weekly sales reports showed that sales conversion numbers had improved dramatically. Specifically, during the weeks when charitable gifts were offered as employee rewards, sales conversion rates increased by 15%. We were very excited with these results! Our executive team also tested doubling the normal cash bonus for employees to see how it would impact their performance. As expected, this too raised the sales conversion rates, but this time by 19.5%. These results demonstrate the power of rewarding employees and specifically that charitable giving, something companies might already be doing, can be used to drive employee performance.
After proving donations enhanced sales performance we focused on finding a nonprofit that aligned with Listen Up Español core values, while at the same time including the interests of our employees and customers. The fundraising method we continue to use was strategically planned, as was the choice of the charity we donated to. The nonprofit that we selected and support to this day for this initiative is buildOn, which serves the educational needs of impoverished children in the United States and internationally. Supporting education is directly aligned with the Listen Up Español core values to “Grow Brain Cells” and “Embrace and Drive Change.” In three consecutive years, the money raised by Listen Up Español has funded the building of schools in Nicaragua and Haiti. Funding also went to a year-round program at the Benito Juarez Community Academy in Chicago, allowing 150 underserved and uninvolved students the capacity to transform their neighborhoods through intensive community service. Knowing the company has a positive impact is one of the best parts of working at Listen Up Español. It is a source of pride for sales agents, middle management and the company founders.
So, it is more rewarding to give than to receive. The key is in the connection of the values of the company, the employees, and the nonprofit organization receiving the funds and executing on those values. I hope other companies and nonprofits find ways to partner and to have a greater positive impact.