How to Scale Your Workplace Giving Campaigns and Go Global

In today's episode, we discuss scaling your workplace and employee giving programs. We explore how to budget when scaling and the power of local champions. Finally, we talk about challenges when growing your programs regionally and internationally.

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Karl Yeh:

Welcome to the Social Impact Show where CSR professionals, get the latest strategies and tips to help them develop and grow their CSR and goodness programs.  So today I'm joined by Goodness Catalyst with Benevity, Danielle Valle Gilchrist. And we're going to talk about how to make your workplace giving global.

Now in our previous episodes, we talked about how to start one and how to get your employees engaged.

But I think this one is... Let's say you have a program that's already well-established and let's say you work for an organization that [00:01:00] it is beyond maybe your city, or your province, or even your country, that they're international.

How do you scale your workplace giving program to other countries, states, provinces?

How did you get your workplace giving program, I guess, how do you scale it to maybe the other countries or provinces or States that your company is in?

Danielle Valle Gilchrist:

Thanks so much for having me Karl and we're seeing more and more companies go global and finding ways to grow [00:01:30] their employee giving programs in a global way.

And the biggest thing is not only is it a nice to have, but it's really necessary for having employee engagement and the... A feeling of inclusion throughout all of your different locations.

So if I had a program that was local to my country and I was looking to make a it more global, the first thing that I would do would be finding local champions.

So that, that way you can be able to have folks on the ground that not only can create relevant content and really know the culture of that company, of that individual office quite well.

But then also they're able to be really responsive to what's going on.

The other factor that I would think about [00:02:30] is languages and currencies.

So making sure that whatever platform you're selecting, both employees are able to use their native tongue when they are on the site, as well as use their native currency because if I am... If I speak Spanish at home, yes, I might speak English during the workday, but wouldn't it be great if, while I was on my employee giving site, I was able to use my native [00:03:00] tongue and even give in my localized currency.

Karl Yeh: 

Oh, that would be amazing.

And, but actually I want to unravel what we talked about here because there's so many elements that I was just starting to think about.

And so you said... You mentioned local champions and that's awesome to find these local champions.

Is there a... I don't know why I keep thinking a grand champion, like somebody whose... The driving force [00:03:30] that connects all these local champions together.

Or I guess the question is it more centralized or is it more regionalized? Is that giving program given, is it better to have autonomy in that local area versus, or is there a one true program that oversees all the other programs.

Centralized or regional workplace giving programs?

Danielle Valle Gilchrist:

You're right on the money on this.

And I've seen companies go both models. [00:04:00]

So there are certainly companies that want a more centralized approach and they want things to flow through headquarters.

For example, if I want to build a fundraiser in Poland, I just have to ask and have to check in with headquarters to make sure that that all is good.

What we often encourage though, is to really enable those local champions so that they're able to be reactive and they know what's going on and they're able to build their [00:04:30] own campaign.

So one example, Illumina actually built out job titles and had an entire robust training of the ways that their local champions could engage on the site.

And that way it's less work for the CSR team at her headquarters because their champions are able to do a lot of the work for them.

Karl Yeh:

To me, that's very interesting too, because I would think the local champions or just the local, the region [00:05:00] itself would have different events and different things that happen.

So for example, here in Calgary, there are different events or milestones in the year that we could definitely take advantage of that.

Let's say you in Boston would be completely different, right?

Danielle Valle Gilchrist:

Yeah, exactly.

Karl Yeh:

I would imagine there's two big events that I keep thinking of the Boston Marathon and the Calgary Marathon too.

But I would imagine the Boston Marathon is something like a very [00:05:30] big thing that is not as big here in Calgary, please. Any marathon runners here in Calgary forgive me for that.

But I would just say the Boston Marathon is something that a lot of people think about that's a lot in a big, much grander scale than the Calgary Marathon.

Danielle Valle Gilchrist:

Yeah, you're absolutely right. I... The beauty of having those local champions is they can really know what's going on, on the ground.

So for [00:06:00] example, yes, I love the Boston Marathon. It is a lot of fun. Sign me up for the Calgary Marathon if it ever happens.

But knowing that the Boston Marathon is normally in April, then I know if I'm going to have a fundraiser to support all of the marathon runners that are doing charity run.

I know to do that in April whereas the Calgary one I think is later in the year.

And so I would know if I were the local champion in Calgary, [00:06:30] I would know when to plan that and what would make sense for that office.

Karl Yeh:

How do you go about budgeting these things? Is it, I guess maybe back to the regional versus central approach, is there a local budget? Is there a one big regional that distributes that budget? What have you seen that works better?

How to budget for scaling workplace giving programs

Danielle Valle Gilchrist:

You're often going to see me say that you can do it lots of ways [00:07:00].

I personally would recommend really empowering your local champions of setting them with a budget, empowering them to be able to plan what makes sense for that region that year.

And then you can really hold them accountable to that as well as for that local champion personal training, that's also great for their long-term career path to be able to have that experience, budget managing and event managing that empowers their success as well.

Karl Yeh:

And I'm also seeing another cool benefit of this too, especially [00:07:30] if you're in different countries, or different States, or different provinces is that let's say you have somebody who has done a really great job of creating a great program in one area.

Have you seen where you take that local champion and you move them to different areas and then help that area or region grow as well.

Opportunity to move local champions?

Danielle Valle Gilchrist:

I haven't seen as many examples of literally moving the people, [00:08:00] but we feel ideas all the time of even within a company, being able to say this fundraiser worked well in Boston, but didn't work as well in Toronto.

What did we do differently? And is there a way that we can adapt the campaign so that they're mutually beneficial.

Karl Yeh:

So Danielle, we talked about that there's a lot of great benefits of this, but can you name off some of the challenges that you've seen in terms of scaling, whether that's the budget side, developing the people, or maybe even just conflict of where the program direction should be?

Challenges to scaling a workplace giving program

Danielle Valle Gilchrist:

Yeah, I mean, it does take a lot of planning and it isn't like... Corporate responsibility is a labor of love, of putting [00:09:00] together these events and these campaigns it's not easy. And really the folks that are on the ground deserve a lot of support.



So one challenge that I often see is just bandwidth, both as far as the local champions go.

And as far as the folks running the program at home, making sure that they're well supported, that they're able to do all of the work that they need to do.

And a big thing [00:09:30] is having a plan and have... And sticking to it, but also having the ability to be a little proactive of, for example, know that there's probably going to be a disaster in 2021.

So let's have a little bit of our budget held back so that we're prepared when heaven forbid something bad happens.

Karl Yeh:

And is it about growing, wait, when you're scaling? Is it about growing one place at a time or is it [00:10:00] two places at a time? How have you seen this work?

Danielle Valle Gilchrist:

I've seen it work both ways of a lot of our clients launch all of their countries globally on the same day. And the beauty of that is if you have company meetings happening that day, folks from all of the different offices will be talking about their employee giving day.

Of course, if you need to have more of a crawl walk, run approach, [00:10:30] then that is always possible as well of being able to phase in one country and then the other, and possibly have payroll earlier or later, and things like that.

Karl Yeh:

And if you're to maybe boil it down to one, two, maybe three key elements that you need to successfully scale your workplace giving, would you... What would those three or one, two, or three things be?

Danielle Valle Gilchrist:

I think [00:11:00] the biggest thing is having executive support and a plan so that, you know the business case, you know what you're doing and why.

And then once you have a plan, then using those local champions to really execute on it.

Karl Yeh:

Oh, and you know what, I forgot to ask, how do you... We talked about in a previous video and I'll leave that in up here in the description below about finding your local champions.



But when we're talking about scaling, [00:11:30] how do you go about finding those local champions in those areas when it's going to be a lot harder than one if you're just starting out, right?

How to find local champions

Danielle Valle Gilchrist: 

One example is one of our clients literally did a... Traveled to all of the different offices to be able to get to know the on the ground folks, to be able to select those champions.

If that's either not in the budget or not possible due to social distancing, there [00:12:00] are other ways that you can have a on the ground coffee chat with those champions to be able to really find who cares about it, as well as chatting with leadership, to be able to see who already is showing an aptitude for this, and really ask them to get more involved.

Karl Yeh: 

Do you have anything else to add in terms of scaling your workplace giving?

Danielle Valle Gilchrist:

Nope Karl, thanks for having [00:12:30] a chat. There's a lot more that we could geek out on as far as international giving. So keep... Stay tuned and pop any questions in the comments.

Karl Yeh:

Remember, if you want to learn more about employee and workplace giving, check out this playlist here, as well as this playlist, to learn more about how to develop and grow your CSR programs. Thanks for watching and we'll see you in our next episode.

Question for you

How have you scaled your workplace giving program? What were some of the challenges that you faced? 


About Danielle Valle Gilchrist:

As Manager of Goodness Solutions at Benevity, Danielle Valle Gilchrist guides brands in bringing their social mission to life. Prior to Benevity, she managed employee engagement at Blue Shield of California, where she led a record breaking 80% participation in giving and volunteering programs. She is a graduate of the Boston University Questrom School of Business with an M.B.A. in Public and Non-Profit Management. Danielle enjoys teaching yoga and is a Head of the Charles Regatta champion coxswain (the person who steers during rowing races).

Connect with Danielle on LinkedIn