Implementing employee engagement and corporate giving software

In today's episode, Part 2 of our 3 part series on corporate giving and employee engagement software, we discuss how to implement your corporate giving and employee engagement software. We explore how many people are required to effectively implement and how to launch. Finally, we talk about leveraging the software to scale and maximize employee participation. 

This is Part 2 of our 3-Part series on: Everything you need to know about employee engagement and corporate giving software.

Watch, listen or read:

Part 1: What is 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 this is part two of our discussion on corporate giving software solutions and we're going to talk about implementation. So Kathryn, in our previous video we talked about what it is and how to get it. So let's say we've got this software, what's actually the first step?

Like, Hey, [00:01:00] what executives have paid?

We've got their internal buy-in, everything set, we now have the software, what is the next step?

Kathryn Pisco:

Yeah, that's a great question.

So next step is to actually physically implement the technology within the company.

Implementation process

So you essentially spend several weeks, at least at Benevity with our team it typically takes about 12 weeks to implement the software.

It's because we want to understand exactly [00:01:30] what your current program looks like, what the goals of your program are, what you're measuring, and then figure out how does our technology best support you in that.

So we typically break it down into several different stages or steps, and what's really important is meeting with the multiple stakeholders in the program as well.

Conversation with internal teams

So you certainly have the administrators, the CSR leaders who are running the program, but you also have likely folks from your payroll team or IT, potentially your HR team, there may be groups of ambassadors that also need to be looped into the conversation.

[00:02:00]  So it's setting up conversations with all of these teams in a more formal way, so we would call that like a project discovery.

Do some project planning, so figure out what makes the most sense and implementing this technology, product design, program design.

So that's taking everything that you as a professional have told us about [00:02:30] your program and really working on it together to figure out how to best leverage the technology.

Project configuration and testing

And we configure, so project configuration, we look at actually getting it set up on the backend so that everything runs really smoothly once you've implemented.

Then we do some testing, we set up a site where we're testing, making sure that it's looking good.

And then typically when you're launch ready, we'll do some sort of soft launch where it's to maybe a smaller number of employees or in a more controlled [00:03:00] environment and then you actually launch it to the entire company or whoever your users that you have your mark for it.

And so that's the first step, going through that whole implementation process before you can actually go live.

Karl Yeh:

Do you do it in stages?

So let's say you've launched, do you launch... Let's say you bought a software tool, so let's take example Benevity's tool then.

Now in our previous video, [00:03:30] we mentioned some companies don't use every single feature, but let's say this company actually wanted to use every single feature.


Do you launch with all the features all at once or do you say, you know what let's launch with this feature first, this feature second, or your most important priority feature and then as you get more accustomed to the tool, you start launching the other ones?

Do you launch the software in stages or all at once?

Kathryn Pisco:

You answered it on your own too.

But yeah, we typically recommend doing a phased approach [00:04:00] to implementation.

So companies can have a variety of reasons for choosing to implement some things over others and there's various different options.

So at at Benevity, for instance, we have multiple different product offerings.

So we have an employee engagement product offering that covers everything from giving to volunteering, we have a granting solution, we also have an API solution, and a nonprofit solution.

So even if you were going to take advantage of everything, we wouldn't necessarily say [00:04:30] launching everything at once makes the most sense.

So some companies have a reason for needing to launch one over the other, maybe you have a huge giving campaign that you need to run by a certain date and that comes first, so you're going to prioritize that.


Or to your point earlier, maybe one of those products is a little bit more important to you, you need it up and running sooner, and so we prioritize that as well.

So basically we'd go through each of those phases of implementation for each [00:05:00] product and launch at different times.

Typically what we do is that'd be also part of our scoping conversation in the very beginning is how do you want to time this?

Let's create a work back plan, meaning, okay, if you want to launch on this date, it's going to take this much time and these are the steps we need to take to get there and work backwards that way and then really map it out for the next year or next several months or whatever phases you decide as an organization to do.

Karl Yeh:

So how many people does it actually take to run [00:05:30] this type of software?

I know we talked about how it could be run by one person, but just the description of all the different phases and stuff, what would be an optimal number of people to actually run?

How many hours does it take a week to actually implement and actually truly maximize the use of a CSR software?

Kathryn Pisco:

Unfortunately, the answer is it varies widely.

Really depending on the size and scope of your program and [00:06:00] the capacity and budget that you have, it can be run by one person in terms of physically running the technology.

But you have to have buy-in and engagement from across multiple stakeholders.

I think I read a statistic that said on average it's between six and nine people at a company that are somehow engaged, whether or not they're actually running in the administrator of the program.

So you have someone from payroll, someone from IT, and then your CSR folks as well.

That obviously varies [00:06:30] widely depending on the company, how you're going to have it set up, and which stakeholders need to be involved.

From a time perspective, that really varies as well.

If you're talking also whether or not someone actually has technology to help, there's going to be much more time involved if you don't have technology, if you're just using Excel.

We've heard time and time again from our clients how much time actually is cut off of working on their program when they implement technology.

[00:07:00] When Visa came on board, one administrator told us that she actually gets 75% less emails now from employees asking about their CSR program than before.

So if you have technology, you're able to spend a little bit less time at least on the admin.

Then I think the last variable there is how many folks you actually have working on this [00:07:30] .

If you can spread the work amongst a large group or, as we've talked about in the past, if you have some sort of ambassador program where maybe you have one or two people that are actually running the CSR program, but you have ambassadors in every market or in several of the most engaged markets within your company that are also doing some of that work as well.

So it really depends on how large and global the program is, but you can control some of the variables by thinking about how many people, what sort of technology, and what your program actually looks like.

Karl Yeh:

So for people who [00:08:00] aren't used to implementing a whole bunch of software and you just want to actually get the program running in your organization, do you need highly technical people to actually use corporate giving software or is it really easy for, I guess, a lot of people to be trained on it?

Because there are some times, and I come from the digital marketing space where like people are like, "Hey this technology, we hear all these great things about it, let's implement it."

And the moment they implemented, [00:08:30] they're like, "I don't know how to use this tool because I don't even know how to use the features."

How much technical knowledge is required to use corporate giving software?

Kathryn Pisco:

Yeah, no, that's a great question.

I think this varies depending on who you partner with from a technology perspective too.

I think one thing that everyone should think about before they make a purchase is how user-friendly the technology is, not only for the employees.

For instance, with Benevity there's zero training that an end user, an employee from your company would need to be able to interact with Benevity platform. [00:09:00] Then also from the admin perspective, to your point, I can barely plug in my computer, Karl and I can use the Benevity technology.

But I think asking the questions on how much training do you actually need?

What sort of training is there as well? And that's why when we're talking all about implementation today, that's why implementation is so important too.

It really gives you the playbook and the manual for how to use the technology, not only from a features and functionality, [00:09:30] but also how to make the most of the technology there.

Karl Yeh:

So let's say the moment we've launched it, how do I grow the participation, how do I grow, I think that would be the number one thing that a CSR professional would be looking at, is like how do I grow participation of my program?

But more specifically, how do I leverage, I guess, the technology to actually help grow that?

How do you leverage corporate giving software to scale my CSR program?

Kathryn Pisco: 

I think again depending on your program and what's important to your people, it [00:10:00] might look a little bit different.

But we at Benevity actually launched something called the Corporate Purpose Playbook this past year, where we looked at trends across all of our fortune 1,000 clients as to what aspects of these programs tend to lead to the most successful and most engaged programs.

Engaging can be more than just giving dollars and having matching dollars in the platform, it can also be volunteering, it can be engaging in small acts [00:10:30] of kindness.

But there was a couple of things that we saw across the most successful programs that I think might be relevant to mention.

Elements of a successful CSR Program

1. Personalized to employees

One is the most successful programs tend to be very personal.

So they are programs that are really empowering the individual employees to give or to volunteer with nonprofits that are really important to them.

People are much more likely to choose, to give time and money if they're able to choose where that goes. The second is making it easy. [00:11:00]

So having multiple options of ways to engage, not just giving, not just volunteering, but both.

But then also specific to the giving piece, implementing payroll.

2. Make it easy to participate

So when you look across our client community, people are 70% more likely to give if they have payroll enabled and they ended up getting like four times more money because of that. It's much more easy to give if you can give via payroll.

3. Providing more options to engage

The other thing we see is really uniting giving and volunteering.

So we [00:11:30] see that there's a certain level of participation that's there when companies offer giving only, I think it's like a 12% average participation.

But when you add giving and matching, it pops up to 16% and then when it's giving in volunteering, you're at 20% and then when it's giving, volunteering, and matching your all the way up to 25%. so you see that incremental growth in the more that you can offer.

So I think it's really thinking about not only empowering your employees personal [00:12:00] passions, but also giving them multiple ways to engage because not everyone has time to volunteer, not everyone has the money to give, but people do want to do something that make the world better and that makes them feel good about themselves.


Karl Yeh:

So Kathryn, just one last question here in terms of implementation. [00:12:30] When you're actually ready to launch, you probably want to launch with a pretty big bang, I guess.

What are some of your ideas in terms of maximizing employee engagement when you're ready to launch?

What are some ideas you can provide?

How to maximize employee engagement when launching your CSR program

Kathryn Pisco:

Absolutely. I think it's so important to think about this too because think about what you've already been through, building the business case, convincing everyone to purchase this, then you go through the whole implementation process [00:13:00] and you only have one time to officially launch this program to the company.

So we've seen a bunch of really creative strategies that have worked really well.

One is to launch around a time that's already really important to the company.

So let's say you have an annual volunteer week that is really well attended and people love, launch this around then so that people get really excited.

We've also seen to be really effective where you have leadership or even the CEO making [00:13:30] a large announcement and show support for the program.

Then in terms of communicating, get really creative as to how you communicate about the program.

Back when we were in office, we had a client have all of their ambassadors wear a red shirt to the office to talk about the launch or creating a really great video to really kick it off.

But the number one way that we've really seen to really maximize engagement at launch [00:14:00] is to actually seed the accounts of your employees.

So if you picture in this technology, every employee has their own personal page.

And they each have, at least in the Benevity technology, a giving account that they're able to use to give to nonprofits of their choice.

What we've seen companies use really effectively is they'll actually seed each of these giving accounts with like it could be $2, it can be $10, it can be $50 and say, "Hey, we have put money, it's basically free money, into your account [00:14:30] that you're able to then go and donate to any charity of your choice, but you have to go in the platform to use it."

One of our clients, Splunk, did this exact thing, had crazy success because they seeded everyone's account with $10.

But they said that they seeded one lucky employee's account with $10,000. So you had to go into the platform to see what that looks like.

They ended up having 62% participation. What they found is that people didn't just give the $10 in their giving account, they [00:15:00] gave some of their own money as well, and so the campaign was wildly successful.

So it's really getting creative, centering it around a time that makes sense for your company, and having that support and that communication all the way through.

Karl Yeh:

I'm sure how people actually launch programs now versus before the pandemic has changed. Have you seen any of those differences?

How has pandemic impacted CSR program launches?

Kathryn Pisco:

Absolutely, because we're just are not in person anymore.

So [00:15:30] some of the things that might have really effective or even going desk to desk to make reminders or having really cool launch events in person, unfortunately those things have gone away this past year.

But we've seen a huge shift to virtual.

And the benefits of virtual is that it also tends to be much more inclusive. You can actually involve the entire company in something like that.

Whereas when you're in person, it might have a really great splash for everyone at the headquarters. But if you have multiple offices around the country, [00:16:00] in the world, it's more difficult to do it.

So instead we've seen you could even launch things on a Zoom meeting, everyone has the same zoom background, or you're having a company-wide virtual meeting and you play a really inspiring video [00:16:30] .

No matter what it is, it's really just thinking about a way to build excitement, communicate with your employees in a way that's a little bit different than how they typically get communication, and making it relevant for them with some incentives as to why they would want to do it.

Karl Yeh: Perfect. Do you have anything to else tad in terms of implementing a corporate giving software?

Kathryn Pisco:

No. Other than just, I think, to really think critically as you're deciding on corporate giving software, to really understand what implementation looks like so that you know that you're partnering with someone, an organization that has your best interest in mind and has a plan in place because [00:17:00] it is challenging to implement.

But once it's done well, it just sets you up for great success.

Karl Yeh:

Remember to watch part one of our discussion on corporate giving software solutions where we talk about what it is in this video here. And check out this video for our part three of our discussion on how to actually leverage the software to improve employee engagement. Thanks for watching and we'll catch you on our next episode.

Question for you

How have you implemented your corporate giving software? 


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