What’s the best technology to engage your employees in corporate citizenship?

The RW Institute’s Corporate Volunteering, Giving and Grants Technology Review provides a 360-degree view of the technology market and is based in extensive research efforts with a global reach. This is a summary of the Institute’s approach to the project and an overview of what we found in the market. To access the full report, sign up here

1. How was the review developed? 

  • A market scan resulted in the collection of 51 known solution providers, respectively headquartered across 13 countries and 5 continents.
  • 40 solution providers agreed to participate in the research.
  • 23 solution providers completed a basic product survey.
  • 17 solution providers completed a deep-dive product survey and provided a product demonstration.
  • 7 solution provider Executives/CEOs reported on the vision for their platforms, the technology market, and the future of corporate citizenship.
  • 60 practitioners across 56 companies in 7 countries completed a survey about their experience with volunteering, giving and grants technologies.
  • 183 end-users across 50 companies in 13 countries completed a survey about their experience with volunteering, giving and grants platforms at their companies.

2. What did we find in the goodness technology market? 

While it can be challenging to accurately assess quite how many volunteering, giving and grants technology platforms constitute a crowded marketplace, to say that it’s saturated would be an overstatement. Our survey looked at more than 50 of these platforms, with Blackbaud, Benevity, CyberGrants, and CauseCast emerging as the most popular choices among practitioner and end-user respondents.

Solution providers emerging from adjacent industries are expected to add to the competition. Salesforce, for instance, has partnered with United Way, intending to combine its dominance in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) space with United Way’s renowned expertise in fundraising and workplace giving campaigns.

The rapid growth of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) over the past few decades continues to accelerate, playing a critical decision-making role in many of the world’s largest companies. According to the Governance & Accountability Institute, corporate sustainability reporting among Fortune 500 companies ‘rose from just 20% of the companies reporting in 2011 to 81% in 2015’. At the same time, the CECP’s Giving in Numbers 2019 edition notes that giving has been on the rise. In 2018, median total giving was $20.7 million. Six out of ten companies that provided their contributions data in between 2016 and 2018 increased total giving by a median average of 11% during this period.

But how many companies are actually using platforms to support their programs? In the survey we distributed to corporations, of the 56 companies that responded, 78% indicated having a platform for volunteering, giving or grants. This, however, is most likely an overestimation of their true share in the marketplace, as respondents with platforms are more likely to respond to a survey targeted specifically towards them.

3. What does market growth and consolidation look like?

The major vendors have all grown through a combination of organic means, and inorganic growth through acquisitions and consolidations.

Consolidations in the industry have led to acquisitions of both software vendors as well as those specializing in services. This is consistent with practitioner needs for vendors who will be involved in aligning technology to programs rather than just platform providers. Consolidation of solution vendors acquiring or partnering with service providers is also compounded by the inverse: service providers acquiring solution vendors.

In the latter case, NPOs are recognizing that their program expertise can be a significant value-add to not only the deployment of technology, but to the very nature of the way it operates.

Chris Jarvis

Executive Director, RW Institute

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If these market movements and the narratives that attempt to explain them are any indication, future platform providers and NPOs enabling their clients with workplace giving, volunteering, and grantmaking programs will look more alike than they are dissimilar both as organizations and in their technology offering. The commoditization of functionality that will make the base offering across solutions similar is already pushing solution providers to explore innovative functionality to enable better giving and volunteering.

But until vendors settle into a stable form, client organizations and practitioners will have to bear the brunt of the disruption. In the open-ended responses to our survey, many practitioners mentioned acquisitions, consolidations, and their cascading effects as impacting their support model and overall experience with their platform.

For vendors, acquisition can lead to more robust product offerings and the ability to position themselves in the market as any client’s “one-stop shop” for any potential need. Alternatively, existing clients are forced onto the sole supported platform and away from solutions acquired largely for their market share and clientele.

Unfortunately, as with other enterprise technologies, the complexity of technical integration and an existing subscriber base deployed on “legacy” products makes migration and conversion difficult. Few vendors want to undertake the gargantuan effort of architecting anew and redeveloping solutions for a common platform. A single vendor may instead offer multiple solutions acquired from different organizations over time, but present them as a unified platform, invariably leading to an inconsistent user experience for practitioners, end-users, and administrators.

The corporate giving and volunteer technology space is going through significant consolidation. Solution providers are acquiring service providers to bolster technology with program capability. Service providers and NPOs are acquiring solution vendors to add a practical toolset to their program offerings. And finally, solution providers are acquiring other solution providers to round out their portfolio of products and cater to a broader client audience as a “one-stop shop” of all things CSR.  Practitioners are being forced to operate in an environment of uncertainty, balancing operational needs with an ever-evolving vendor service model and technology landscape.

4. Workplace volunteering, giving often separate from grantmaking

Currently, organizations are deploying multiple solutions depending on the need. Corporate giving and volunteering are more commonly found on the same platform. Here they are relied on by end-users and employees more so than for grantmaking, which is mostly occupied by practitioners representing a small subset of the employee population.

The choice of tools is not only indicative of functional deficiencies and lack of capability, but of the gap between how corporate citizenship and grants teams are organized within organizations. Often the two groups operate under separate teams and command vastly different budgetary and resourcing constraints. More so, their programs, champions, and target audiences vary as well.

Unless the goals and measures of success for both teams and their respective programs become shared, each team will pursue the technology and platform decisions that they see as best suited for their own success. The hopeful endnote would be that perhaps each team succeeding on their own can outweigh their joint success if their goals were to be convergent, and the potential economies that could be realized by joining forces.

This will not be driven by technology alone, but by the trend in corporate citizenship to be more encompassing of various expressions of what it means for a brand to act as a good citizen. For example, as CECP’s André Solórzano, a Senior Manager of Data Insights writes in this year’s Giving in Numbers report:

“Over the last two decades, measuring and benchmarking social investment have become more integrated in corporate strategies and have employed more sophisticated tools and models to evaluate progress.” As a result, CECP determined they would expand their research to include “a broader depth and breadth of corporate investments in society from across the company.”

Today, many platforms cater to either giving and volunteering needs or grantmaking, reflecting a general understanding of the split between corporate citizenship and grants teams within organizations. As organizations continue to harmonize programs and evaluate their efficacy, and more holistically (or introspectively) assess what it means to be good citizen, it would be reasonable to expect a convergence of goals, tools, and measures of success.

Learn more about market trends and read the rest of the report – download your copy here.


Realized Worth helps companies go beyond volunteering to do citizenship better. We work with companies to create impactful citizenship strategies and programs that empower and engage employees, that focus on empathy and inclusivity, and that align with your most important business objectives. Talk to us today to learn more!

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