Learn how to turn the incentive that nobody wants, into the one that everyone wants. And in the process, engage more employees than ever before.

By Corey Diamond

A few years ago, we wrote about how Dollars for Doers programs were the Incentive Nobody Wants. In the heady days of 2011, the average participation rate in an incentive program for volunteer hours was 7%. At the time, we marveled at how dismal this figure was … if a company was rewarding employees to give back to the community, why was nobody participating in it?

According to CECP, the average participation rate in Dollars for Doers programs is now only 1.5%. While the drop in participation numbers reflects better reporting guidelines from CECP (including differentiating between Dollars for Doers, disaster relief, and team grants), we should still be alarmed by this trend.

So if Dollars for Doers-type programs are the most widely offered, then how is it still the incentive nobody wants?

Let’s explore three ways to make your program the incentive everybody wants.

1. The Goal is Engagement

While a “Thank you!” is always appropriate, rewarding employees in the wrong way at the wrong time can actually inoculate them against further participation. All employee community programs should focus centrally on engagement. The design of the program, therefore, needs to offer broad opportunities for various levels of contribution. Remember: only 25% of Americans volunteer, so 3 of every 4 people in your company aren’t in the tent. Make the tent as big as possible, invite everyone in, and engage as many people as possible. Create an internal structure that helps newbies get registered in your Dollars for Doers program, and focus on the benefits of the volunteer experience. Engaging people for the first time and giving them a great experience will bring them back every time. Higher level volunteers can then be offered higher levels of contribution – but first you must offer an experience.

2. Eliminate Minimums

If you’re like most companies, your Dollars for Doers program has a minimum number of volunteer hours eligibility requirement, often referred to as a “minimum threshold.” This likely makes the tent so small, only a handful of employees are eligible. To illustrate this, let’s look at two scenarios of the fictitious RAMJAC Corporation:

Scenario 2 outlines how you can engage 2,250 more employees and contribute an additional 34,000 hours to the community at a fraction of the cost per employee.

(If you’re worried about the financial implications of this, get in touch. We can walk you through the math, and help you devise a strategy that works for your budget).

3. Selecting the right workplace giving software is crucial, but it isn’t your holy grail.

We are thrilled with the trend in the development of software tools that track volunteering and giving. You now have multiple options to choose from, and we’ve got helpful hints on evaluating the best fit for your employee base. But don’t stop developing your program once you’ve launched the tool. Use your internal champions – the ones you just engaged in your brand new Dollars for Doers program – to train their colleagues. Tap into the enthusiasm of high level volunteers and spread it like wildfire throughout your organization. And make sure you tell stories! Your employees will love treating the tool as the Facebook of volunteering.

Is it time to rethink your program? Do you want your Dollars for Doers program to be the incentive that everyone wants? Are you ready to take your program to 11 (see video below)? If you are, give us a call! And don’t worry – we’ll do the math for you.

P.S. If you’d like a primer on Dollars for Doers programs, complete with case studies, check out our friends at Double the Donation.

If you’d like our help with your employee volunteering or workplace giving program, please feel free to drop us a line at contact@realizedworth.com, leave a comment below, or call us at 855-926-4678. You can also reach out to us on Twitter and Facebook.


Corey Diamond
Partner, Business Operations
Follow Corey on Twitter
Connect with Corey on LinkedIn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed