What is employee engagement and corporate giving software?

In today's episode, we discuss employee engagement and corporate giving software. We explore, what it is, how it works, time to implement, who should use it, and knowing when it's time to buy a platform. Finally, we also talk about costs and how to tie to business objectives and how to get internal buy-in. 

This is Part 1 of our 3-Part series on: Everything you need to know about employee engagement and corporate giving software.

Watch, listen or read:

Part 2: How to implement employee engagement and corporate giving software

Part 3: Best ways to use employee engagement software to boost your CSR Program

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Read what we discussed:

Karl Yeh:

So today I'm joined by Kathryn Pisco, goodness catalysts with Benevity. And we're going to talk about corporate giving software, but I want to take it all the way to the beginning. So, Kathryn, what is corporate giving software?

Kathryn Pisco:

Something I actually asked myself as I was interviewing with Benevity initially, because I had no idea that it even existed.

Employee engagement [00:01:00] software is basically a category of type of software that organizations will use to increase employee job satisfaction, recruit and retain talented workers, and really try to connect employees to the mission of the overall organization.

There's a huge issue actually in our world of having a lot of disengaged workers.

I saw some stats from Gallup where 51% of employees actually rate [00:01:30] themselves as disengaged and 16% are actively disengaged, which equates to a lot of lost revenue and money for companies.

It's estimated in the US alone, almost $500 billion are lost through disengaged workers.

And so there's a huge kind of business case for this sort of technology [00:02:00] .

When employees are engaged, their productivity increases, their absenteeism decreases, and they're much less likely to turn over.

And so companies more and more are wanting to have some sort of software to help them with that.

Karl Yeh:

So how does the software typically work? Is it a place where employees can gather, so is it a forum? Is it a place where they can donate? What does the giving software actually look like?

How does employee engagement/corporate giving software work?

Kathryn Pisco:

Yeah, no, that's a great question.

So there's a variety of different ways.

It can look most giving software provides one [00:02:30] area where your employees, it's a portal or a platform, can go in and have everything related to goodness in one place.

So that can be anything related to giving to nonprofits that they care about and getting matched by their company for those gifts.

It can involve doing volunteer projects, tracking volunteer hours. It can also just be a place to learn about social impact and what's important to the company.

So let's say a company has really strong program related [00:03:00] to racial justice and equity. You could promote that through this program through news articles and information.

So essentially it's a place where individuals can log in, have a personal profile and do giving, volunteering, take small pro social actions to make social impact.

Karl Yeh:

So what if, let's say we start from scratch, right?

So we want to start this program and we've [00:03:30] run campaigns on our own, but if we wanted to find the software and to actually implement it, how would a company go about doing that?

When do you know its time to invest in a corporate giving software solution?

Kathryn Pisco:

And it's always challenging to kind of know when it's time to invest in software.

Most of these kinds of goodness activities that I'm talking about, giving, volunteering, taking small actions towards the greater good are already happening at companies.

And so what we typically see [00:04:00] is that initially when these programs are running, either formally or informally, it can sometimes be run off the side of someone's desk, or maybe it's one person that is doing this work.

And so it starts to get really time intensive and admin intensive when that one person or a half a person, if it's off the side of their desk is trying to track volunteer hours, issue corporate matches and keep everything in Excel.

And so that's normally a really good indication that it's time to [00:04:30] invest in some sort of software that can kind of help you streamline, automate, and scale the program.

That way, what the corporate purpose and corporate giving software is designed to do is to take away a lot of that administrative burden.

And also so that you can really focus on what's important, like the strategy and figuring out how to make social impact and engage your employees and not on tracking and matching gifts and all of that sort of administrative stuff.

Karl Yeh:

So would you recommend this software [00:05:00] be used just by one person? Well, can the software be used by one person or do you need multiple people to actually implement it?

Can this software be used by one-person teams?

Kathryn Pisco:

So Benevity has over 600 amazing enterprise clients that are global.

And you may think that in some of these large programs, the Microsofts, the Apples, the Googles of the world, which are all clients, have teams of 50 working on this.

And that's not necessarily the case.

You might be surprised to know [00:05:30] that a lot of these corporate social responsibility teams are run by very small, but mighty teams, oftentimes one person.


But what we've also seen is that the success of the program in terms of really engaging the entire company, all stakeholders, as well as all employees, you really need more support.

So even if the program is being run by one person, we've seen it be really effective when companies implement ambassador program, where they really tap into the different markets, locations, [00:06:00] other people that are super engaged as well, even if it's not their job, and try to leverage their expertise and excitement in some of these local markets as well [00:06:30] .

But with software, it's actually technically possible to have one person as the main administrator and thriving ambassadors and really run a successful program, because the technology takes a lot of the administrative burden off of that person who's running it.

Karl Yeh:

So how long would it usually take from the point you actually purchase the software to actually implementing it?

Because I would imagine it's not one of those things that you just turn on. Isn't just a software, it's a lot of people management, a lot of change management, a lot of learning for a lot of people, even if it's just one person.

How to use the software, how to implement it correctly. And there still some time for the business to adapt [00:07:00] to it.

How long does it take to implement a corporate giving or employee engagement software?

Kathryn Pisco:

And this really would probably vary also on which technology partner that you're partnering with too. In fact, I'm always surprised.

I'll speak a little bit about what the timeframe looks like in the process of implementing looks like for the Benevity software.

But I'm surprised to see that there are other vendor partners in the space that actually don't do any sort of implementation, which to me that's the equivalent of handing me the keys to a rocket ship with [00:07:30] no instructions and saying, go ahead.

But at Benevity, the implementation program of physically just implementing the actual software typically takes about 12 weeks.

We partner with our future client, do a whole project discovery, planning, design.

We then configure the software, do some project testing and then do both a soft and then an official launch.

And so this is a way that we can engage all stakeholders that made the decision and that also will be involved [00:08:00] in the software.

So the payroll team, the IT team, possibly diversity equity and inclusion, marketing, comms, HR, all of these teams are on the same page. And then also includes actually training the administrators and the folks that will be administering the technology.

And then in terms of actually implementing and growing our social impact program, that stuff takes years and years and it's a constant evolution.

Karl Yeh:

When you mentioned behavioural, the 12 week process. [00:08:30] I'm sure there's behavioral changes that need to occur within the organization.

Can you speak a little bit more on that?

What other internal behaviour changes also need to occur along with software implementation?

Kathryn Pisco:

So, it's really interesting, behavioural change is actually a very real challenge to implementing any sort of new program, whether it's CSR or something else [00:09:00] .

And what we've seen is that the most successful programs when they're starting out and is really, it has to be not only a top down approach, but also a bottom up, a very grassroots and holistic approach.

So by top down, the program really can't thrive unless you have some sort of executive buy-in for a couple of reasons.

One, if an executive and a leader is really bought in and communicates that widely, that tends to trickle down and be seen as something that's very accepted and promoted at the company.

But even more important, these executives also are the ones that typically hold the purse strings and give you the budget and kind of approve that.

But in [00:09:30] old days, in the past, the last couple of decades ago, the kind of old version, and old approach at CSR where it's just top down, it's just the executives I'm asking you to donate has kind of evolved.


And now we're really looking at the most successful programs really empower the individual employees. And it's when companies support those individual purpose and the passions of these employees that the programs really take off.

And so I think it's also really engaging [00:10:00] from a grassroots level.

What are your employees already passionate about?

What are they already doing and building upon that. And then also presenting it in that way, where it's not, "We're changing everything and now you have to do something new."

But we're simply hearing what's important to you and we're supporting you in that. And so when both of those things happen, we see that that change starts to take place.

And it's really important to also not forget about the various stakeholders that have to be engaged. It's not just one executive, it's not just a couple employees, but really look across [00:10:30] the various departments. HR, marketing, communications, any department that you believe has kind of a voice and a part in this and find some internal champions, really build that internal consensus.

And so it's not just you beating the drum of the new CSR program, but also they're able to share that and promote it among their people.

Karl Yeh:

So, in a previous video, we talked about building a CSR strategy from scratch and all the various steps to eventually getting [00:11:00] that program approved. And if you want to watch more of that, you got a video appear and description below,


but when you are past that, when you got your program approved, when is the time that ... I think you mentioned, you touched on it a little bit.

So I guess a two-part question. When is the time that, you know you need to software? But then the moment you need a software, how do you go about, I guess, researching or finding that software?

How to research and find corporate giving and employee engagement software?

Kathryn Pisco:

So I think [00:11:30] it's a gradual process. You don't suddenly say, "I really need a software now." But I think as your program continues to grow, and especially for a large global program, it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to look into software from day one.

But once you and your team get to the point where you feel that it is really challenging to do anything else related to the program, other than admin, you're not able to spend the time on focusing on [00:12:00] strategy.

You're instead doing pivot tables and Excel, figuring out how many hours people have volunteered and where everyone is with our corporate matches.

That's a really good time to start thinking about investing in technology that can allow you to take your head off the table, stop doing all that administrative stuff and focus on the strategy.

And I think in terms of how to research for it, it's really challenging because there actually are a lot of different players in this space [00:12:30].

I think it's important to ask some really good questions:

  • What's important to you?
  • What kind of company are you?
  • What are your passions?
  • What industry are you in?
  • How does it make sense for you to be contributing to the greater good?

So once you've determined that it's time to actually make the investment in this corporate giving or corporate purpose technology, it's important to just think about your program, the type of impact you want to make, whether you're [00:13:00] global or not.

What type of giving you will typically be doing, what type of matching, if it's important to have a volunteer program. All of those sorts of things, and look at your program.

And then start asking good questions of the various technology partners to make sure that they can really meet all of those capabilities.

Their donations are going to go where they want them to go.

And so it's really just asking questions, doing online research, but I would also encourage you to reach out to other CSR professionals and leaders, because there's a lot of variation across various [00:14:00] technology platforms. And so really hearing from your peers is a great way to do it as well.

Karl Yeh:

So Kathryn, when we talk about getting the software and all the various elements of it, let's say it's not top down.

You're [00:14:30] the sole person in a company doing all these things, and you're doing all these work pretty much on Excel now.

How do you get internal buy-in to actually get the software? Because I know my next question to this would be cost, but how do you get that? Buy-in to say, "Hey, you know what? We really need this thing." And I would assume a lot of people in the organization probably don't anything about this.

How to get internal buy to purchase Employee Engagement and Corporate Giving Software?

Kathryn Pisco:

Yes, absolutely.

And I think you hit the nail on the head that we want to [00:15:00] implement this corporate giving software.

We want to do it yesterday, because we need that, I'm bogged down in admin. But the change management piece and really building and showing the business case for this sort of technology is really important.

So I think it's really understanding what's important to your leadership team in terms of what sort of business problems are they also trying to solve?

There's a lot of data out there that you can leverage through benchmarking and through also presenting different ideas [00:15:30] that show the ROI of investing in this sort of technology.

But it's first understanding what executives at your company really believe are important. Is there a recruitment and retention push or problem at the organization?

Are you looking to really maximize profits and revenue?

Are you really trying to show that the culture is wonderful? All of these things, there's a lot of data that shows that companies that invest in [00:16:00] social giving and social impact programs, they actually are more profitable.

They have less risk, they have greater employee retention rates.

So all of these things I think are important to kind of one, understand what your executives think are important, but then also present those.

And then I'd also encourage doing some benchmarking and not only across the industry, but also other companies that are of your size.

I think over half of the companies, I saw some recent [00:16:30] data, invest between one and 5% of their profits to their social impact program.

And so it's kind of presenting these ideas to your leadership in a way that makes sense from ROI perspective, while at the same time, collecting stories, potentially doing a survey with your employee groups to really show that this is something that is not only needed, but wanted. And then on top of that, will bring us as a company, [00:17:00] some really important business impact.

Karl Yeh:

Let's actually touch on the topic of costs.

So obviously, dependent on where your business is in terms of how many people are going to be involved.

But what would somebody be looking at in terms of the cost? And maybe we don't have to go into specific numbers, because it obviously is tailored to what, however your business operates, but what would a small business be looking for?

What would maybe [00:17:30] a mid market business would be looking for? Maybe what would be an enterprise we looking for in terms of costing just average numbers, what they're looking at?

Cost of employee engagement and corporate giving software

Kathryn Pisco:

Yeah, that's a great question.

And I don't want to sound like a politician, but it's almost impossible to answer with a straightforward this dollar amount or just range.

Because it varies not only on what the company is, what sort of aspects of the technology they want to take advantage of. [00:18:00] Most of our clients, for instance, they don't use every single functionality that Benevity has.

We have a corporate engagement platform that is all about giving and volunteering and taking small actions.

We have a whole corporate granting side.

We have an API that also does ... and a whole nonprofit solution. There's very few clients that actually take advantage of each of those [00:18:30].

What I would recommend, I guess I would say is to

look, consider who you are as a company and what you're needing now and what your budget is and finding something that meets those needs at that time.

I will say that every company, also every technology partner prices things in a different way.

So it's really important, I think, as you're considering it to look at everything.

So not just how much it costs to run the software every year, what are implementation costs, how much are companies potentially charging donations that are made in the platform? [00:19:00] What is the cost to nonprofits?

And then also other costs like at Benevity, for instance, we keep it very straightforward, where there's a one-time implementation fee and then a subscription fee.

Things like vetting charities in the platform and disbursements are of no additional cost. And so we really want to remove any barriers that companies would have to growing their program. So it doesn't cost more the more they grow.

And so I think [00:19:30] it's just really important to understand what your budget is, but then go and find something that fits your needs.

And also understanding that there are sometimes hidden costs or costs that aren't as straightforward that it's important to consider when you're weighing various options.

Karl Yeh:

And when you're considering a software, do you actually take a look ... because you mentioned, okay, what we need now.

But how about, I would imagine you expect your program [00:20:00] to grow.

So is it something that you also want to take a look that the platform can grow with you maybe in two years, maybe in five years, maybe in 10 years?

Consider how the platform can grow with your business

Kathryn Pisco:

Yes. 100%.

And then I think that's something that we talk a lot about here at Benevity too. It's we've developed technology that can meet you where you are.

And oftentimes you hear, "Okay, I'm just starting out. I don't have a large budget, I just need this now and down the line, we can change and we can upgrade [00:20:30] or whatever." And what people don't realize is the amount of change management time and money that it takes to continuously switch technologies is a lot.

And so what we typically recommend is finding something that can meet your needs, not only now, but in the future.

So for instance, many companies might start with a program where their headquarters is, or maybe just in North America, but then down the line, they're a global company and they really want to engage more people.

And so it's really making [00:21:00] sure that, "Okay, we don't need the global capabilities right this second, but we know that in three years, we're going to grow to that place."

And making a decision that to go with a platform that can support you at no matter what stage you are.

Karl Yeh:

So, the final question I want to ask is, everything relating to corporate giving software, I think you always have to tie it back. How will it benefit the business?

So I'm sure you get asked this, "Okay. How do we justify the cost of this software [00:21:30] to executives back to the business, maybe on an annual or regular basis?"

How to justify the software cost and tie to business objectives

Kathryn Pisco:

Yeah, that's a great question.

And I think even if you're building the business case right now and you've gotten that buy-in from the executive, this is actually something that your job is never really done [00:22:00].

You always have to continue to show the business value as well as continuously be selling that kind of ROI internally to continue to get more budget and to keep the budget there.

In fact, I think the majority, I saw a stat, almost 90% of CSR professionals, their biggest concern in their role is that they will not only get, but keep that budget.

And so I think it's really understanding to kind of go back to what I said earlier, what's important to your executive?

I read an article recently that said it prioritized what typical CEOs, how they typically prioritize various stakeholders in their company.

And one of the first three, I [00:22:30] think the first was their customers.

Their second was their employees, and the third was their communities.

And so I think it's finding out what really resonates with your leaders, what's important to them and then showing them the business value there.

So for employees, for instance, there is significant data that shows that when employees are more engaged and they get engaged through doing goodness programs like giving and volunteering, they turn over less, 59% less. [00:23:00]

And there's also significant data that shows that your customers now are expecting and almost demanding companies to have a very strong social impact and social purpose. And they're much more likely to buy from these companies when they have that.

And so it's really figuring out what resonates. Something that I think would resonate with any leader is that companies that invest in corporate purpose [00:23:30] tend to have greater revenue and less risk.

They go bankrupt less often.

And so it's really translating to your executives why these programs, even though it might not necessarily be tangible at times, how it actually does improve the business and positions them better overall.

And then once you have data within your own company, you can then not just say, "Okay, this is what's happening across the board, but [00:24:00] this is what's actually happening at our company. Since we started this program, we are X percent more engaged, and this means that we're turning over less and we're able to recruit more top talent."

And really make that clear to the executive.

Karl Yeh:

So do you have anything else to add in terms of corporate giving software and what it is?

Kathryn Pisco:

No. I think just that we've seen in the past, it'd be in kind of a nice to have.

Wouldn't it be great to have something that improves culture and really engages employees?

And I think with all [00:24:30] that has happened over, especially this last year and also all the data that we continuously see, it's really becoming a have to have for companies and a way to really differentiate themselves to not only future employees, but current.

And that engaging your employees is really mandatory. And when you have an engaged group of employees, they are so much more loyal and excited to come to work and really better people, because they found [00:25:00] that personal purpose.

And so with this software, it can really streamline and automate everything that you need to do so that you can have all those benefits that I just described. So I think the only thing to add is it go get it, if it's something that makes sense for you.

Karl Yeh:

Watch part two of our discussion on corporate giving software in this video here and check out this playlist for other tips and strategies to developing, growing your CSR programs.

Thank you very much for watching and [00:25:30] we'll catch you in our next episode.

Question for you

How have you implemented a corporate giving software in your organization? 


About Kathryn Pisco:

As Director of Goodness solutions here at Benevity, Kathryn Pisco has a passion for building relationships and helping brands bring their social mission to life with technology. For almost a decade, Kathryn has worked at the intersection of purpose and profit. Before her time at Benevity, Kathryn served as Founder and CEO of Unearth the World, a social enterprise that plans transformative international exchange and skills-based volunteer opportunities for professionals and students. In her time away from work, Kathryn is a world traveler, budding foodie, Peloton lover and mother to three beautiful kiddos: Lucia (4), Olivia (4) and George (1).

Connect with Kathryn on Linkedin