June 11, 2020
Grantmaking programs have traditionally been designed with the goal of creating community impact, with companies giving funds to nonprofits whose missions reflect their social impact pillars.
While community impact is as important as ever to Adobe, they see an opportunity to also create impact for their people and develop their skills while enhancing the company’s brand reputation outside of their key markets — all by empowering employees to lead their grantmaking program.
See how this multinational computer software company uses Benevity Grants to power their Employee Community Impact Fund and create a trifecta of personal, social and business impact.
The Employee Community Fund
Employee engagement has always been a goal of Adobe’s CSR initiatives, and they introduced their Employee Community Fund as a way for their people to have a say on where some of the company’s philanthropic dollars go.
This empowers employees to help address some of the challenges their communities are facing that are not necessarily aligned with the company’s strategic corporate focus but are really meaningful to them.
Last year alone, this fund got nearly $4 million in grants to nonprofits across the world. How did they do it? The process involves three main steps, each powered by employee participation.
There are three ways employees can get involved:
- Vote. Employees at each of the company’s 21 participating sites can vote on the top five cause areas they want to see funded in their local communities out of a carefully curated list of 25 categories.
- Invite. Once the top five causes at each site are announced, employees can invite nonprofits addressing those areas to submit a proposal for a $20,000 grant.
- Evaluate. Employees can apply to sit on local review panels and undergo training before reviewing proposals and deciding which nonprofits receive grants.
- The vote
First, a voting process helps the company figure out which cause areas are most important to their employees. At Adobe, their voting day has become somewhat of a cultural moment. They set up voting stations at each of their participating offices that are driven by volunteers.
They get senior leaders involved in promotion, and used the Benevity platform to help get the word out. Once people vote, they get their “I Voted!” sticker and volunteers tally the final counts. Unsurprisingly, last year the top five causes at each site varied — what people cared about, and where their communities needed support, in Tokyo was different from New York.
Last year, the company saw 50% of their employees (that’s more than 12,000 do-gooders!) vote for their top cause in one day.
- Inviting nonprofits with Benevity Grants
Once the top five causes at each site are announced, employees can invite nonprofits to submit a proposal on the Benevity Grants platform. It’s simple: all they have to do is send a link to their selected nonprofit where they can find a proposal template and budget template to fill out.
The results? Last year, 1,000 nonprofits — about 300 more than the year before — from around the world submitted a proposal, validating how truly engaged Adobe’s people are and how easy the process is!
- Reviewing proposals
There are a ton of proposals to review, and typically more than 300 employees apply to sit on review panels. The Adobe team works hard to create diverse, cross-functional teams of five to eight employees in each location, totaling 140 employees.
The panel members attend virtual training delivered by the philanthropy team to learn best practices (like how to deliver an objective review and analyze a budget) and have about eight weeks to review the proposals that are sent to their site. Through the process, employees are connecting with a deeper sense of purpose while learning skills that will be used well beyond the grantmaking experience.
- 88% said not only did they gain skills through this experience, but they could take some of those skills back to their job
- 97% said programs like this one made them proud to work for Adobe
- 85% said they would be more likely to engage in the community sector as a result of their experience
Last year alone, Adobe’s team of employee grantmakers invested $3.8 million into the global community through 192 grants!
With a lot of passion and imagination — and the right technology to support their big ideas — Adobe has successfully broadened their community impact, engaged and developed their employees, and enhanced brand affinity. They plan to invest another $4 million into their communities in 2020.