I have noticed some contrasts recently in the sort of giving employees want to do with the sort of giving companies want to do. As a company we want our community investment to be strategic and sustainable. For BT, with core competencies and impact in the ICT space, that means communications and digital inclusion. But employees, myself included, want to do things that involve a hands-on approach and that tackle an immediate need.
From a sustainable community investment perspective it is best to help a homeless person learn a skill so they can get a job, but working in a soup kitchen or donating to a food pantry is a hands-on approach that is more immediately fulfilling. Likewise donating money to help cure people with heart disease seems like a more charitable cause than donating your money towards a healthy living education program – although the latter might be better value. On a personal level most of us want to do things that meet the immediate requirements of a needy person.
In addition, personally, I want to do things that get me out of my normal office environment and working in different capacity. I am sure that why so many people like to work in soup kitchens.
Our emotional drivers as individuals incline us towards programs that help sustain the needy rather than truly sustainable programs that tackle the underlying issue.
Companies can and do address these differences by distinguishing between the drivers and appropriate funding to put behind employee engagement programs versus the drivers and appropriate funding to put behind corporate giving.
But the real trick is to find programs at the intersection of both employee drivers and strategic and sustainable community involvement. I am still working on it and would be interested to hear any you have come across in your sectors.