Opinion

8 tried and tested ways to engage staff in charity partnerships

Do you have a corporate partnership with a charity? That’s fantastic! We’re sure you’ve got lots of exciting plans to make the partnership a roaring success.

Whether it’s pink wigs and bucket collections, crocodile costumes and marathons, or wet-weather gear and hiking, you can’t raise money without some very important people – your staff.

The fundraising is only part of the challenge. Staff are usually keen to get involved, but getting large numbers engaged can be difficult, and getting a diversity of people involved is also tricky. Especially when many are busy with work, they may find it difficult to leave their desks for lunch, let alone to raise money.

Understandably the job comes first, and even if people want to help, it’s not always do-able. Instead of expecting people to automatically support your charity, you need to create a culture that enables them to get involved. So we recommend trying out these tried and tested methods…

1. Communicate with everyone
One of the reasons that charity partnerships may not always hit the fundraising target, is because staff may not know that the partnership is actually happening. And if they do, they often don’t know why it’s there and how they can help! This is pretty easy to remedy. When you agree on the charity, plan a fundraising strategy with internal communications to match. Plan an all-staff launch, and follow up with frequent emails, desk-drops and posters to keep the partnership in the forefront of people’s minds.

2. Recruit charity champions
Charity champions are volunteer staff responsible for jollying along colleagues to come to events, buy raffle tickets, dress up (or down), etc. Using skills in diplomacy and persuasion, they drive the charity partnership among the workforce, encouraging their engagement.

3. Arrange a charity visit (or talk)
Inspire your staff by bringing the cause to life for them. Depending on the kind of organisation you’re supporting, you could arrange a staff visit to see the charity’s work first hand. Since some places work with sensitive cases, such as people with severe health issues and vulnerable children, visits aren’t always possible. But you can still invite a guest speaker from the charity to give a talk and thank everyone for their support. Establishing an emotional connection between staff and charity can make all the difference to support levels.

4. Give people time off
We’re sure lots of people would love to take time off to raise money, but with work to do, it’s not always possible. Why not look at your budget to see if you can give staff a day off each year to dedicate to charity support?

5. Put the appeal in fundraising
Look at your staff profile, and ask yourself: How many people are likely to do the Ben Nevis climb or white water rafting? Who’s more suited to cake bakes and fun runs? This helps you set achievable goals for all of your staff. Not everyone wants to abseil down the tallest building in town. And baking isn’t everyone’s idea of fun either! Getting the balance right encourages more involvement.

6. Mention it in your job ads
Start building a culture of giving by highlighting your charity activity in your job ads. Not many companies do this so you’ll stand out from other employers. And you’ll attract the kind of employee that wants to get involved in such work.

7. Get in the paper
The local press are always keen to hear what the business community is doing to give something back. It publicises the charity, your own organisation and we’re pretty sure that staff will love seeing themselves on the pages of the local rag! If you’re doing something very visual and unusual, why not get the local TV reporter along to an event too? 8. Set targets There’s nothing like firing up a bit of friendly competition among fundraisers! By setting targets people have a goal to aim for. You can team people up, giving them their own targets to hit. You can tally up the totals each month, quarter, six months or at the end of the year and hand out prizes for those who have raised the most.

Although successful charity partnerships do require a bit of organising, once you develop a culture that makes it possible, your staff should jump at the chance to be part of the action.

We would also like to give our own charity partners a mention; do check out their amazing work: EACH, The J’s Hospice, Maggie’s Wallace, Suffolk Mind, Arthur Rank Hospice Charity and Talk to Stars.