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Top 10 Questions to Ask a CSR Software Partner

by Benevity, Inc

The must-have capabilities they need to deliver on

Looking for a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) software partner for your company? One whose technology can transform your employee engagement program and create the social and business impacts you’re looking for? There’s a lot to think about. Giving and matching features. Number of nonprofits vetted and supported. Reporting functions. International capabilities. And much more.

And the stakes can be high. A good workplace giving and volunteering program can drive employee engagement and help your people gain a sense of personal purpose. And purpose leads to a better employee experience, builds culture and supports the attraction and retention of top talent. In fact, turnover is reduced by 57% on average when employees are actively engaged in giving and volunteering at work.

If you run a program, you'll know better than anyone how much manual work can be involved, making it difficult to scale and create the impact you want. You’ll want to select a CSR software partner who can help you launch, build and grow, and provide insights and best practices to ensure you succeed.

To help guide you, we’ve prepared a list of the top 10 questions to ask and the capabilities to look for so you can make the right choice.

1. What is their background?

Your CSR software partner needs to have a proven track record working with other companies, in understanding their needs and goals, combined with the ability to tailor an employee engagement program accordingly.

You’ll want to know:

  • How many years they’ve been in business
  • What their product suite is and if it’s integrated
  • Who their clients are and from which industries
  • What they see as their top differentiators
  • Their company values and mission and if they are a certified B Corporation

2. Do they have a large and experienced team to support you?

A highly experienced team that includes full support for clients, end users and nonprofits — from best practices and strategic insights to technical support — can help guide you in the right direction.

You’ll want to know:

  • How many in-house people they have on their client support team and if they’ll provide a dedicated team to support you
  • What support is available for end users and nonprofits
  • If there are extra fees or limits on the number of inquiries
  • Their client retention rate
  • If they offer an online resource center with tools such as on-demand webinars, best practices and ready-made content to support you


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3. What kind of volunteering opportunities are available and how are they managed?

Volunteering provides meaning and impact that leads to both personal and professional growth — and connects your people to one another, your company and their communities. You’ll want a CSR software partner that makes volunteering as easy and personalized as possible.

You’ll want to know:

  • The number of volunteering opportunities available and if they can be targeted to employees based on their geography, department, skills and interests
  • If you can set up and manage volunteer opportunities for employees and teams, including support for volunteer ambassadors
  • If employees can log and track their volunteer hours
  • What different types and sizes of volunteering (large and small events, virtual, skills-based, board service) are supported
  • The availability of automated and flexible volunteering rewards in the system

4. What are the giving and matching features?

Giving your people the broadest possible range of vetted nonprofits to support means they can easily connect with the causes they are most passionate about. This will be vital to driving engagement in your program. And making it even easier with payroll giving and automated tax receipts is also a must-have.

You’ll want to know:

  • If your people can donate to the nonprofits of their choice
  • The payment methods available (e.g., credit card, PayPal, Apple Pay, payroll —  one time or recurring) and if employees can be rewarded with donation currency (new-hire credits, account seeding, milestone celebrations)
  • The ability to track donations made outside of the platform
  • If employees can create their own fundraisers to share with co-workers, friends, family and social networks
  • The automated matching features, including if employees and executives can offer their own match on each other’s donations and if custom rules and parameters can be sent such as matching percentages, match threshold, etc.

5. What are their international capabilities?

When selecting your CSR software partner, be sure to think about their ability to create an inclusive experience that connects your people around the globe.

You’ll want to know:

  • The number of nonprofits they provide access to worldwide and their vetting process
  • In how many — and which — languages their software is available 
  • Their understanding of payroll giving in different jurisdictions and in how many currencies they enable payroll giving
  • If they mark up currency exchanges
  • It they have a global operations team monitoring and responding to emerging regulatory changes

6. How are nonprofits vetted and supported?

Vetting nonprofit organizations can be time consuming, complicated and costly — and the stakes are high. Giving to an organization that is not what it seems could mean misdirected dollars and a reputational risk to your company.

You’ll want to know:

  • Their experience and expertise in vetting nonprofits, including their process for sourcing nonprofits for their database, the watch lists they monitor, and ensuring organizations are still in good standing before disbursing any funds
  • If they charge for vetting and adding international nonprofits, and if so, how much
  • If their vetting accounts for equivalency determinations (which can be burdensome on nonprofits, especially smaller ones), or if determinations are based on locally relevant criteria
  • If they offer a dedicated portal where nonprofits can apply for eligibility and administer their profile
  • If they have dedicated staff handling nonprofit inquiries and administrative needs, and if so, how many

7. How are disbursements handled?

Getting donations to nonprofits is a complex process. The fewer the hand-offs between the donor and recipient nonprofits the better, ensuring a more secure and less costly transaction. Look for a CSR software partner that handles as much of each transaction as possible and whose disbursement process is focused on accuracy, cost-effectiveness and speed.

You’ll want to know:

  • If they outsource disbursements to third-party providers or do it themselves
  • If they use a third party, what the fees are and if those fees are passed on to the recipient nonprofits
  • What soft costs (for example, check processing or recording) are associated with their disbursement process
  • The percentage of disbursements done by EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) and if there is a charge for this
  • How international donations are distributed, given checks are not accepted in many countries

8. What security features are available?

Keeping your data secure is important for trust and brand reputation. You’ll want a partner who is properly certified with a dedicated security team and the right safety features in place.

You’ll want to know:

  • Their security certifications (for example, ISO 27001, PCI-DSS or SSAE 18)
  • If their software supports multi-factor authentication
  • If their software supports single sign-on (SSO) and if so, what systems are supported
  • Their process to detect, identify, report, notify you, respond to and resolve security incidents in a timely matter
  • If they perform internal audits on your internal processes, procedures and controls

9. What are the reporting capabilities?

To get a clear view of how your program is performing, you’ll need to be able to measure all aspects of it. Comprehensive reporting features help you get all the detailed data you need to benchmark, improve and take your impact to the next level.

You’ll want to know:

  • Their standard reporting capabilities
  • Their custom reporting capabilities
  • If they offer dashboards or visual analytics views
  • If their reporting integrates employee demographic data

10. Is the technology intuitive and easy to use?

Finally, and arguably most importantly, it is essential your technology is intuitive for your people to use and it can integrate seamlessly with your existing systems (like HR and payroll). One of the most significant factors affecting participation is ease of use for everyone.

You’ll want to know:

  • If their technology meets Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA standards
  • If their software requires training for end users and if there’s an additional fee for this
  • If the solution can allow you to personalize or brand the interface
  • If they offer a mobile app
  • If they have an API for integrations like e-commerce platforms and rewards programs and HR systems such as payroll

Ready to learn more and feel confident about selecting a CSR software partner? Download our Guide for Choosing an Employee Engagement Partner chock-full of even more questions to ask to make sure you get the technology partner you need. You can also check out Benevity’s own solution anytime.

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