By now you’re probably knee deep into planning or executing your annual employee holiday giving campaign. If not, you should think about one for next year. According to the Centre for Philanthropy, the average person makes 24% of their annual donations between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Giving Tuesday is just around the corner, and with more companies participating this year than ever, now is the time to capitalize on your employees’ desire to give back.

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By Corey Diamond

Like the holidays in general, one of the unfortunate downsides of a big holiday giving push is the inevitable hangover. This month your employees will be bombarded with pleas for generosity wherever they go: when they walk in the door, when they get in the elevator, when they sit at their desk, and even when they go to the restroom. Come January, how are you planning to maintain the pre-holiday level of excitement and engagement?

One way to prolong the enthusiasm is through partnerships with organizations like Kiva.

Kiva is a nonprofit organization with a mission to alleviate poverty by connecting people through lending. Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to support entrepreneurs all over the world. Innocent, in Uganda, for example, is seeking $750 to buy maize and beans which he will resell. People all over the world come together to make microloans on Kiva that are typically $25 in size, and these loans enable people like Innocent to launch his business and pay back the loan over time.

Since 2005, more than 1.2 million Kiva users have loaned more than $635 million to entrepreneurs in 83 countries. Incredibly, 98% of the loans have been repaid.

And now Kiva is setting its eyes on working with corporations to engage employees to get into the lending game. Take HP, who launched the Matter to a Million employee lending program in February 2014. The HP Company Foundation purchased enough gift cards for each of its 275,000 employees around the world, encouraging everyone to lend to the countries, causes, and people that matter to them the most.

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The results have been unbelievable: more than 190,000 loans totaling almost $6 million have been processed this year alone. And with a 98% repayment expected, the foundation is able to engage the entire company for a few dollars per employee. Better yet, the program is aligned with its goal of supporting thousands of entrepreneurs around the world who need access to capital to start or grow their business. For five years these repayments will continue to go back to the HP Company Foundation’s Kiva account, which enables the company to keep providing employees with multiple opportunities to lend every year – all without depositing any new funds.

At Realized Worth, we are big believers in using volunteering and giving programs to create deep engagement. This means designing programs that include three interrelated components: an emotional connection, a positive action, and a mechanism to share. Let’s explore how your company can achieve all three of these through a partnership with Kiva.

Emotional Connection

The extent to which a volunteer or donor is engaged depends entirely on the proximity to the cause she is supporting. Our brains are wired to make connections to personal stories that matter to us. In fact, a recent study has shown that we can make more sense of helping one person, rather than millions. At the heart of Kiva is the opportunity to connect with one person, one business, one cause, one country. You can navigate to a story that connects with you and follow their story to its end. You can see a picture of the person you are helping and the story behind the business he or she is building.

The highest form of contribution comes not when you get involved in a cause, but when you encourage the people around you to join.

Positive Action

Many causes in the 21st century fall victim to shallow clicktivism, the notion that if you just like something on Facebook or Retweet a plea for help, you’ve done your part. The Kiva platform offers a refreshing antidote to digital engagement, because it requires research and choice. Your employees take an action not because someone asked them to, but because they want to. The positive action is simple, easy, meaningful, and personal.


The highest form of contribution comes not when you get involved in a cause, but when you encourage the people around you to join. Sharing is built into the Kiva platform, allowing people to easily share the projects they have supported with friends and family. At HP, some employees took it even further, banding together to support one cause; in one simple action, a group of like-minded employees were able to meet a particular project’s target. This type of sharing leads to deeper engagement every. single. time.

Group of Business People Meeting Back Lit Concept
Amani is an independent female artist who got a loan through Kiva. Read her story here

Whatever your employee giving program looks like, make sure that deep engagement is at its heart. Partnerships with organizations like Kiva have the capacity to provide that deeper engagement for your employees. It also provides a great example of the blending between for-profits, not-for-profits, lending, giving, etc. It’s refreshing to think that there are new opportunities for your employees to get involved in, with methods other than the typical paradigm of fundraising and volunteering. We can’t wait for the day when employees have such a strong emotional connection to the projects they support, they start lending their time and skills to the people behind them. Just the thought of it is enough to cure our holiday hangovers!

Questions or comments for me or the team here at Realized Worth? Leave a comment below, email us, or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. And be sure to visit to see how you can get involved.

Corey Diamond
Partner, Business Operations
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Connect with Corey on LinkedIn

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