How an integrated, global program boosted a Fortune 500 financial services corporation’s participation by over 100%

Leaders of a Fortune 500 financial services corporation’s CSR program believe that the company’s volunteering and gift matching programs are a differentiator — something that can truly set the company apart in attracting, retaining and engaging talented employees. This is especially important for a company located in the competitive hiring environment of Silicon Valley.

“Our volunteering and gift matching programs are very much the bedrock of how our company continues to engage our employees, our teams and our leaders,” says the company’s Community Engagement Manager, “so they’re incredibly important to us.”

Since the company had initiated its programs in 2008, participation had been low. “We were slow in making progress due to the constraints of our former platforms,” their Community Engagement Manager recalls. The programs were run through two separate interfaces, which created a number of headaches from a user perspective. As with any major global company, their employees use numerous processes and systems in their daily tasks, so adding two separate platforms for the philanthropic programs created unnecessary and unwanted complexity.

Managing the programs on two platforms was no easy task, either. When asked about the experience, the Community Engagement Manager shared, “It was incredibly difficult managing two separate vendors.” To make things worse, it was difficult for users because the interface was not intuitive nor easy to use. Furthermore, it was hard for employees to record their volunteer hours. As a result, there was no way to reward them for their service which hindered participation. Of equal concern was that the platforms were not reflective of a global company with an international workforce.

“ … the company’s volunteering and gift matching programs are a differentiator, something that can truly set the company apart in attracting, retaining and engaging talented employees.”

— Community Engagement Manager

Employees could only give to charities within the country where they lived, and only U.S. employees could make donations directly on the platform. Everyone else had to upload receipts online. The process simply wasn’t a fit for a company known as a global leader in financial services that values making easy and secure payments.

With programs active in more than 33 countries, the company needed an employee engagement platform that was scalable internationally. Given that the corporation’s workforce is dispersed around the world, the volunteering program is one of the few ways that its employees have to engage with each other outside the work setting. It’s not only an important activity for team building, but also for employees to feel connected to the company and its values. As such, it is crucial that it be available — and rewarded — for all global employees.

“Having two platforms really limited participation in our programs.”

— Community Engagement Manager

Realizing that the initial platforms were inhibiting program participation and employee engagement, the company decided it was time for a change. The head of the program undertook the task of identifying a suitable replacement: one that was integrated, scalable, and easy to use and manage.

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A better solution: integrated, scalable and easy

Their shopping list included a few must-haves.

First, the new platform had to be a single, integrated solution that would allow the company to seamlessly tie together the giving and volunteering programs, thereby addressing what had been the biggest obstacle to participation.

The Fortune 500 company’s selection criteria for their new workplace giving  and volunteering platform included:

  • A single, integrated software solution
  • Easy-to-use, user-friendly interface
  • Easy data and record management
  • Capacity for international donations
  • Donations made directly through the system
  • Electronic disbursements to charities
  • Permissions for multiple admins
  • Secure single sign-on

The new platform would also need to reflect the global nature of the company and its workforce. It was important that the new solution would allow users to make donations on the platform across borders and recognize local nonprofits that were of interest to international employees.

From an administrative standpoint, they would need to be able to delegate some tasks to the 115 local champions around the world who provide support with program management. The company also needed a platform that could evolve as their program expanded. For example, the Community Engagement Manager wanted to know that the company could customize the platform to account for any employee Volunteer Time Off (VTO) hours, an employee benefit at their company.

Finally, to address concerns about the user experience, the new platform had to be easy to understand and use. It needed the capability to reward employees, make it easy for them to track their activities and manage their account, all in one dashboard. It was important that it provide employees with a very clear record of their donations that would be easy to find and download.

The results are in: participation and donations are up

Over a period of a year and a half, the Community Engagement Manager talked to every vendor in the field, tracking her research in a spreadsheet that was hundreds of lines long.

At the same time, she navigated the internal processes of getting executive buy-in, finding the project management resources and securing the necessary funding. She was also managing the rigorous security processes that a global financial technology company requires. In the end, having taken these steps and querying peers in the industry on who was doing the best work, the company selected Spark, Benevity’s market-leading workplace giving, volunteering and community investment together 2

The choice generated almost immediate benefits. Since the company’s programs were relaunched on Spark at the end of February 2017, year-over-year results have shown dramatic increases. In the first three months, the number of employees participating in the volunteer program more than doubled, as did the number of engaged offices. The number of countries participating increased by well over 400%.

The benefits of Benevity’s international scalability are also clear. The number of offices and the number of countries participating increased for both the company’s volunteer program and its gift matching program. In the case of the volunteer program, these increases were well over 200%.

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Spark’s ease of use increases participation

The key to this Fortune 500 company’s success with Spark is its integration. By eliminating the requirement to understand and access two different platforms, Spark created a much more streamlined user experience.

“It’s just so much easier to use, so I don’t have to be as hands-on. People understand it themselves, they don’t need as much one-on-one support to participate.”

— Community Engagement Manager

“This was a big win to show what is possible when we make things simpler,” their Community Engagement Manager  said. “It’s just so much easier to use, so I don’t have to be as hands-on. People understand it themselves, so they don’t need as much one-on-one support to participate.”

Further, Spark’s user-friendly, intuitive interface has been integral to the dramatic improvement in participation.

The Community Engagement Manager is no longer receiving the complaints and questions she used to, and claims that with the help of Benevity, emails in her inbox have been reduced dramatically.

The impressive results are not surprising: after all, the easier the platform, the greater the participation. “There’s never been a lack of desire for our employees to give back,” she said. “It was literally a case of removing those barriers for them.” By doing so, Benevity enabled the company to instantly boost participation and employee engagement.

It’s absolutely been worth it

As impressive as the results of the company’s Benevity programs have been, they’re only the beginning. In only four months since adopting Benevity, the programs have become their most widespread employee engagement activity. “My VP has really elevated the programs because he thought the participation and engagement were so phenomenal,” shared their Community Engagement Manager.

She goes on to say that the long selection process was worth it. “You go through these hurdles, which is not fun, but you know it is going to be a huge benefit for our employees,” she recounts. “It was definitely worth it at the end of the day.”

“My VP has really elevated the programs because he thought the participation and engagement were so phenomenal.”

— Community Engagement Manager

Want to know more about how you can boost employee engagement and build a culture of Goodness by adding year-round, open-choice giving? Schedule a demo with us.