September 6, 2023

Why Workplace Giving Can Be a Valuable Asset for Both Employers and Employees

Author National Philanthropic Trust

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is defined, simply, as companies integrating “social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with their stakeholders.” One of the key frameworks of CSR, as explained in Carroll’s pyramid of CSR, is philanthropy. (The other three pillars are economic, ethical and legal.) Concepts in workplace giving – from volunteer hours and activities to corporate or employee giving accounts – are becoming extremely valuable assets in the 21st century.

While the concept of CSR in the United States really began to take shape in the 1950s, it feels as prevalent as ever today, particularly for those in the American workforce. According to a 2020 article in Forbes, “one of the major reasons people apply to various companies is because of their CSR strategy.” Not only does CSR “attract more talent,” but it fosters a “more productive and positive work environment for employees.”

This is especially important in the post-COVID-19 workplace, which has seen high levels of employees re-evaluating how their work and their values connect. Employees not only want to feel like they are respected but that the work they do matters and that they aren’t adding to an already volatile and uncertain landscape.

Take, for instance, the 2021 report from the Pew Research Center, which found that 80% of people across the world were willing to make changes about the way they live and work when it comes to combatting climate change. For companies that make the climate crisis part of their CSR portfolio, it builds a stronger foundation with consumers, stakeholders and, of course, employees.

The growth of CSR over the past few years has been nothing short of staggering, as Harvard Business School reported an estimated 90% of companies on the S&P 500 index published a CSR report in 2019, where it was just 20% in 2011. Major companies have certainly heeded the call of CSR initiatives, with innovative and game-changing approaches that grab headlines, along with a newly motivated workforce.

However, CSR is just as needed, and just as important, in mid-size and small businesses. As pointed out by the U.S. Small Business Administration, a CSR program could be just what a company needs to “work toward a community mission alongside your business mission.” This means higher consumer loyalty and employee recruitment, particularly with the Millennial workforce. The report found that 79% of Millennials consider CSR when they are deciding where to work, and 82% said “they would be more loyal to a company with a CSR program.”

One of the ways a business can effectively engage in CSR, while maintaining its tax-efficient bottom line, is through a corporate donor-advised fund (DAF). Corporate DAFs allow businesses to give and grant to a variety of qualified organizations and causes that align with their values. Corporate giving can even be framed similarly to family planning, with employers and employees working together to establish a giving strategy, including how to name the DAF.

For companies interested in opening a workplace DAF as part of their CSR mission, National Philanthropic Trust (NPT) is ready to help. NPT is there every step of the way as you plan your workplace giving strategy, as we handle all the administrative tasks associated with your company’s DAFs, including accepting contributions, providing gift receipts, managing investments, recordkeeping, tax filing and grantmaking.

About the Author

Elizabeth Monahan joined NPT in March 2022 as SVP Human Resources and Administration. Before joining NPT, she spent three years as Chief Human Resources Officer of NewRez LLC. Elizabeth has over 30 years of human resources experience across diverse businesses, complex global organizations and start-up companies. Elizabeth earned an M.A from Rider University and a B.S from Penn State University.