Earlier this month, the RW team was in the house at Benevity Live! in San Diego. Last week we headed to Atlanta for Engage for Good 2023. Here are a few of the insights we’re still processing after last week’s exciting event:
Filling The Say/Do Gap
It’s taken Social Impact practitioners some time to internalize this phenomenon, but what people say they will do often differs from what they actually do, particularly around pro-social behaviors.
This “say/do gap” is equally prevalent in consumers and employees. We’ve all heard the off-the-charts statistics about how consumers say they will buy products that make an impact, but in reality, this stat shared by Thomas Kolster at EFG revealed the truth: while 65% of consumers say they want to buy from purpose-driven brands, only 26% actually do.
Practitioners designing employee engagement and volunteering programs are learning similar lessons: In a breakout session, Carter’s Christine Fradette said that what employees say will motivate them to get involved doesn’t align with what actually gets them to take action – a frustrating dynamic for practitioners working diligently to design programs based on employee feedback.
The lesson? Continue to gather employee sentiment data since there can be valuable qualitative nuggets contained within. But when it comes to delivering on KPIs, test your hypotheses and pay close attention to which interventions, communications, and program tweaks deliver desired actions and behaviors.
Centering Mental Health
From the EFG main stage, Harry’s Maggie Hureau shared a shocking statistic to open her discussion with NAMI’s Darcy Gruttadaro: less than .5% of global philanthropy goes to mental health. While companies may be underinvesting in mental health as a charitable focus area, their employees feel strongly that mental health should be supported in the workplace – 81% of employees agree that how employers support mental health is an important factor when they look for work opportunities.
Harry’s has been a champion of men’s mental health for years and sets aside 1% of sales to support nonprofits providing mental health care services to men in need. But even for deeply committed companies like Harry’s, mental health is a cause that can be tricky to support directly through employee volunteerism. However, it doesn’t have to be hard (or even overly costly!) for companies to invest in mental health internally.
Hureau and Gruttadaro shared strategies for raising awareness and reducing stigma that can engage employees around the issue including lunch and learns, campaigns held during specific focus months (e.g. mental health awareness month, suicide prevention month), leadership visibility on mental health issues and deepening work relationships to foster a culture of support and belonging.
Using AI for Good
Several EFG workshops taught practitioners specific ways to use AI in their work, including Joe Water’s case study session in which he explained how he uses Otter.ai to create a transcription of interviews he conducts with companies about their nonprofit partnerships. Waters suggested feeding portions of this AI-generated interview transcription into ChatGPT and prompting it to write a backstory of the partnership including quotations from the interviewees.
RW’s own Chris Jarvis led workshop participants through a process using ChatGPT to brainstorm behavioral “nudges” that might overcome common employee objections to participating in giving and volunteering programs.
Jarvis’s group learned how our brains take shortcuts called heuristics to help us make decisions each day that are more automatic than reasoned. Jarvis taught the group how to leverage ChatGPT to identify which cognitive biases came into play for each employee objection and then how to use the tool to design interventions, or nudges, that might steer employee behavior toward the desired, pro-social objective.
As we work to advance the sophistication of the impact field, we need to leverage every tool at our disposal, from program design to behavioral “nudges” to ensure we’re capturing actions and not simply intentions, elevating causes that matter most and helping people make better, more intentional decisions. We’re grateful to be surrounded by a generous and dedicated community like the one that gathers at Engage for Good each year!