How are you feeling heading into Giving Season and the final push to hit those 2023 KPIs this year?
You’re in good company if you answered, “Tired”, “Burnt out” or “Anxious”, according to a recent survey of CSR/ESG practitioners from ACCP, which revealed that 86% of respondents indicated their team had increased responsibility while budgets and headcount remained flat. Many cited longer hours (61%), burnout (50%) and fear of not meeting expectations (46%) as impacts of these increased demands.
And you probably not only feel demands and pressure coming from inside your company, you’re hearing from your nonprofit partners that the current economic situation is hitting the charitable sector hard. Looking at available 2023 fundraising data, major donors are down, total new donors are declining and donor retention isn’t looking so hot either. Clearly our community partners need our collective support and energy now more than ever!
You’ve Got This
Given our current reality, we need to be strategic to finish strong this year. But we know you’ve got this! Here are four things you can do right now to set yourself up for success this Giving Season:
#1: Simplify and Streamline
Let’s do a quick thought experiment. Fast forward to December. Imagine it’s your last day in the office for the year. You’re celebrating a job well done with your team. What’s the one thing you’re most proud of accomplishing?
Ok, come on back. That one thing you felt most proud of? Focus on that between now and the end of the year.
It’s time to get really honest and crystal clear about what you can accomplish with the resources at your disposal. Spreading your efforts too thin over a wide number of (often moving) priorities isn’t going to get you where you want to be in December. Take some time to re-assess and re-prioritize right now (you can do this alone or with your team). Reset your strategy and align your tactics, but make that one thing your priority and pull all the levers you can to make it happen. Be ruthless about what won’t happen this year.
Remember to tap into your team’s creativity as you’re aligning those tactics.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
If your goal is focused on employee engagement numbers or percentages during this year’s Giving Season, do you have a robust way to:
- Connect with and engage first year employees? (If you haven’t read it yet, Benevity’s Talent Retention Study makes a great business case for this tactic). If not, perhaps it’s time to set a quick meeting with HR to discuss options.
If your goal is to move beyond “the usual suspects” in Giving Season giving/volunteering, have you considered:
- A campaign directed at existing donors/volunteers asking them to invite a friend or colleague to join them in participating in this year’s projects or activities? Most workplace giving/volunteering platforms allow you to target users that fit your criteria so you can tailor messages accordingly.
#2: Get It Done Through Delegation
Once you’ve gotten crystal clear about your focus for Giving Season and the rest of the year, write down at least 5 things – large or small – you could conceivably delegate to someone else, even if you don’t know who that person might be.
Start to socialize this list with stakeholders, networks and leaders and ask, “Who do you know who might be interested in learning more about social impact and has the skills to do _________?” (fill in the blank: e.g. basic communications, administrative tasks). If you have an existing volunteer Ambassador network, put out a similar ask to the network but add specifics like tasks, timelines and approximate hours commitment.
One client of ours has tapped an internal mentee (with an expressed interest in social impact) to support their current project. Another client has enlisted the help of a group of 8 Ambassadors to support their Giving Season activities. Yet another has a communications intern on board to support their year-end workplace giving campaign.
And don’t forget to tap the power of AI. Whether you use an AI notetaker to streamline meeting notes and follow-ups or use ChatGPT to help you draft that series of Ambassador communications, if you haven’t yet experimented with AI, it’s time! Here are 10 Amazing Prompts to Improve Your Business Now that you can adapt for your activities.
#3: Remember the Rally Cry
You may live, sleep and breathe social impact, but odds are, most of your company’s employees don’t. As you head into Giving Season this year, it’s important to remind people about the why behind the work you’re doing in the community and why your company is uniquely positioned to meet specific community needs.
Repeat this rally cry every chance you get, in every meeting you’re invited to attend.
Work with your communications department to equip your network of volunteers, donors or Ambassadors with a communications toolkit tailored specifically for the giving season (Don’t have a communications resource? Remember that ChatGPT can help with this!). Be sure to include email templates, social post examples and images, and basic talking points to reinforce your rally cry. Bonus points for creating a suggested communications calendar your Volunteer Leaders can use to help keep them on track.
In addition to sharing the community need and your company’s “why” for supporting the community, remember to include the WIIFM. Share the benefits of volunteering and giving as it relates to personal and professional development and positive health and wellness outcomes.
#4: Secure A Senior Sponsor
Most of your impact-focused employee engagement goals will be easier to accomplish when you have an Executive Sponsor who can both message and model the behavior you’re hoping to see from employees, which helps people feel they have permission to participate in community-focused activities.
So if you haven’t yet, now’s the time to secure that sponsor for your Giving Season initiatives. Do your homework to identify which senior leader has a personal passion for your company’s impact focus area. Be sure to align your program goals with the larger business KPIs when you make your ask. And be clear about the specific role you’d like them to play, including timeframe, event appearances, communications and other actions you’d like them to take.
Once you’ve tackled these four steps, you’ll be well positioned to hit Q4 and the Giving Season with clarity and hopefully a bit of calm. Remember to take a step back and acknowledge yourself for the incredible amount of work you’ve already done this year. We see you and we’re so proud!
Be sure to share your plans for Giving Season this year with us – we’d love to see what you’ve dreamed up!