How Cambia’s century-long history of purpose stays relevant

Cambia Health Solutions was founded over 100 years ago in the logging camps of the Pacific Northwest when a group of timber workers pooled together a portion of their wages to form a community safety net in case of illness or injury. Today, that same pioneering spirit of neighbor helping neighbor continues to influence everything Cambia does, including growing its business to include more than 5,000 employees supporting six regional health plans, an investment portfolio and strategic philanthropy.

Giving back and putting people at the center is a cornerstone of Cambia’s culture and the company expresses its commitment to these values through a two-pronged approach to corporate philanthropy. The first involves strategic investments in health care transformation through the Cambia Health Foundation, while the second includes community investments of time, talent and financial resources across the four states where the company does business. These community impact investments focus on addressing key social determinants of health such as housing and food security, preventing isolation and building quality of life for seniors, and addressing and preventing substance abuse.

Transitioning with the times

More choice, more personal, more impact

Kayla Norman, manager of corporate social responsibility, leads Cambia’s small, but mighty team of three CSR professionals. She says that while the company has always kept up with best practices in the field to inform their program, their goal is to be “better than the best.” They recognized the ways people gave — and what motivated them — were changing. They took three big steps — supported by Benevity, their corporate purpose provider since 2013 — to better engage and connect their people, increase participation and create the social and business impact to help them do even more good.

Aligning giving with people’s passions

The first step was moving from a closed giving program where, according to Norman, “community investment and employee engagement were closely aligned with the business,” to an open one, where employees can give to any nonprofit of their choice aligned with their own personal passions — any 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit in the U.S. is eligible.

“We realized we didn’t want to be an obstacle to how people give,” said Norman.

We want to meet our people and nonprofit partners where they are.

From one-time campaign to year-long engagement

The second step was evolving from a popular one-time annual campaign to one that was year-round and less formal.

Following in lockstep with other companies, and with best practices of the time, Cambia used to plan a big, annual campaign. It was expected and convenient, and it provided a certain degree of budget certainty.

“Over the years, it’s become obvious that this was just not the way people give anymore,” said Norman.

“And while the big campaign did bring our company together, and was a big part of who we were, we realized that it was going against the ethos of giving. We needed to do better by our nonprofit partners than being just a one-time giver, and we needed to respect that people wanted to give when they wanted to give.”

They also already had a strong base of employees who were enrolled in payroll giving from their annual campaign, so when they opened up their program it was even easier for employees to give directly from their paychecks.

Peer Matching



Creating connection with Peer Matching

The final — and boldest — step emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic: how to create connection amongst their employees even as they were working remotely. In tandem, Cambia was looking for a new way to activate those employees who were still hesitant to engage


We looked at what really motivates people to give and the data clearly shows that when someone you know supports an organization, you are more likely to give to that organization. I mean, there’s a reason that Facebook fundraisers have been so successful.

Benevity’s Peer Matching feature provided them the solution they needed to both engage the unengaged and connect their people. Through Peer Matching, employees can set up their own giving opportunity for a cause they care about and then put up their own funds to match donations made by their colleagues. It’s a powerful way to not just support a cause individually, but to rally together with colleagues to create a movement. As employees spotlighted the causes they cared about personally, this elevation of people’s stories created connection, inspired greater giving from non-traditional givers, and showed how work and life can mix to the benefit of both.

The company initially worried about donor fatigue with so much giving already going on to support the pandemic response, but that worry turned out to be unfounded.

We didn’t get a single employee asking us, ‘why am I getting emails from my colleagues about fundraisers?’ In fact, Peer Matching helped to engage new donors and we only see it growing.

Peers step up in a big way

Structural changes boost participation to over 50%

Giving employees the ability to create their own opportunities and offering choice openness, year-round giving and Peer Matching are reaping the rewards. The company now boasts consistently high giving participation rates of over 50%, with a year-long matching program in which employees can give to any registered nonprofit of their choice to be matched by the company 1:1.

50To keep the momentum going, the ready-made content Benevity provides also keeps the program fresh, timely and relevant. And demonstrating impact has been equally important. Norman says Benevity’s easy reporting capabilities have been a great resource to communicate the results of Cambia’s employee engagement, community investment and CSR initiatives, and to tell their full ESG story, inside and outside the boardroom.


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