Workplace fundraising has many benefits for the participating charities, but it can be challenging to navigate. Here are a few tips for your nonprofit to reach the workplace donor – even when they aren’t in the workplace

With more than 60 years of experience in employee giving, Global Impact understands how to inspire donors in the workplace. The fundraising model has continued to evolve in ways that further empower employees to choose the cause areas they want to support and how they want do so – like one-time donations, recurring gifts and volunteer hours. 

Workplace fundraising has many benefits for the participating charities, but it can be challenging to navigate. These campaigns are designed to give employers control over access to and engagement with their staff, streamlining solicitation so that employees aren’t petitioned all year long through their workplace by a multitude of sources. The same design that gives employers the ability to manage workplace campaigns makes outreach to these potential donors a challenge for participating charities. 

Global Impact works diligently to represent our Charity Alliance and ensure that employees have the information necessary to make informed giving choices. As fundraising partner for these organizations, Global Impact offers support in the areas of marketing and visibility, strategic opportunities, campaign eligibility and funds processing. Through these activities, we have one goal: to raise more money for our charities in workplace fundraising and employee engagement so they can continue to increase their impact. 

The most reliable way to reach workplace donors is to partner with an employer and support their campaign with resources that represent global causes and promote our Charity Alliance. Campaign partners host charity fairs or invite guest speakers to their special events, giving participating nonprofits an opportunity to interact with potential donors and showcase their impact. Participation at in-person events and sharing our (mostly print) promotional materials have been the most effective tactics for this type of fundraising. 

In addition to this primary fundraising method, we have also applied a traditional marketing approach using paid media. This includes prominent print ads in both local and industry publications, out-of-home advertisements to reach employees during their commutes or in the areas surrounding their office, and digital ads targeted based on location and interest. 

Peer-to-peer asks are highly successful, especially for this audience (think about all the times you bought cookies or wrapping paper to support a colleague’s kid), which is why we have relied less on digital marketing in the past. However, as digital advertising opportunities have become more appropriate for this audience, we have continued to evolve our marketing strategies and expand our options for reaching potential workplace donors. This access became especially critical in 2020. 

For very good reasons, in the past year, social distancing was in and in-person interaction was out – and it appears as though this will continue for the time being. The sudden and drastic shift to a virtual environment threw us all for a loop. How do you reach workplace donors who aren’t physically in the office? With very little information about how long remote working would continue, we had to shift our strategies for advertising and campaign materials to build on our existing knowledge and focus even more on digital connections.

The pandemic compelled us to accelerate our digital strategies and step into some new territories – and we landed in a place that was pretty exciting. We found ads that would reach these potential donors in their homes instead of on their way to work and developed more digital materials to replace print pieces we would typically hand out at in-person events. The virtual campaign environment offered more opportunities to share content from our charities and create an interactive, online experience. It also meant that we could link directly to online donation pages, moving donors closer to the end goal: giving to our Charity Alliance members through their workplace campaign. 

Since no one appears to be rushing back to the office, we will continue to focus on digital marketing and expect that other nonprofits will too. Here are a few tips for your organization to reach the workplace donor – even when they aren’t in the workplace:

First things first: Register to be part of workplace campaigns.
This one is really a freebie, and you probably don’t need us to say it, but you can’t benefit from the generosity of workplace donors if you aren’t even listed as a recipient in the campaign. Federations, like Global Impact, can help you maximize your workplace presence by partnering with you through the registration process and dedicating time to promote your organization. It is important that you do not lose eligibility and potential revenue earnings by missing a campaign application deadline, particularly in a time when many nonprofits have constrained resources. 

Don’t discount your existing audience. 
Even if your nonprofit is brand new, you already have some form of a support network (hi, mom!). Promote your campaign participation across social media channels, in newsletters, on your website and more. If you don’t encourage your existing supporters to give through their workplace, then you could be leaving money on the table, especially if an employer offers a match. 

Create an online experience.
You are no longer limited to making a good impression with your winning personality. Instead, you have the opportunity to create an online experience with an engaging, user friendly site and materials that clearly define your impact and inspire support for your mission. Invest time and effort (and money, if you have it!) to ensure your digital channels reflect your amazing work and make it easy for employees to see how your organization fits into their workplace giving campaign. This year, we increased time spent on our Give at Work page by 300%, indicating that content was more engaging and that we were targeting the right visitors. 

Evaluate your promotional materials through a virtual lens. 
With the transition from print to digital materials, look for ways to encourage your audience to continue their virtual journey and further explore the online experience you so thoughtfully created. Link to related content on your website, as well as the campaign’s donation page whenever possible. 

Many workplace campaigns host virtual events or set up campaign portals that feature videos and other success materials from charities. Help your organization stand out with engaging, interactive content! 

  • Video: At the very base level, have a video that explains your mission and top programmatic themes. (Hint: It doesn’t have to cost a fortune! It can be as simple as a slideshow of photos with a voiceover that you put together yourself.) 
  • Digital Storytelling: Consider telling your story through some kind of interactive piece or digital activity. Add movement to something that would have previously been static. The sky is the limit, and there are so many online tools that can help create more engagement. 

An example of how we did this was through our Charity Voices series. We developed one-on-one conversations with charity partners to highlight their innovation and resiliency in addressing COVID-19 challenges around the world. It was a low cost opportunity to deliver new, engaging content that was both visual and informative, telling the story of real-time impact our charities were having during a universal experience. 

Think outside the box: Look at unique advertising options to target employees from specific companies.
This one is trickier, but with a little bit of research and audience definition, it can be done. It’s also important to keep timing in mind. Be sure to align your promotions with the employee giving campaign you’re trying to reach.

  • Social Media: Social media ads, especially LinkedIn, are one fairly easy way to reach potential donors based on their employer. The options for targeting seem endless, and you can even take your existing database to retarget individuals who have engaged with your organization in the past. 
  • Niche Publications: Another avenue is to advertise in niche publications that would be of interest to a particular audience, such as Geekwire for Microsoft employees or base newspapers for the military audience. Some of these publications also offer the opportunity to sponsor their newsletter or send a promotional email to their subscriber list, so there are many avenues to consider with this type of ad.
  • Radio/Transit: When more of the workforce returns to the office, this is a great way to meet your audience where they are. Radio stations that deliver important local updates for weather and news or print posters on a subway car are great ways to reach potential donors on their way to and from work. Last year, we opted for some above ground bike station ads close to offices where we knew employees were still going in. We knew these would be seen by both pedestrians and those passing by in cars. 
  • Mobile: This type of advertising is very versatile and allows you to reach your audience through third-party websites and applications based on your defined targets. Nearly everyone owns a smartphone and has it on them at all times. Geotargeting delivers your ads based on preselected locations, which can be a convenient way to reach employees who live in concentrated pockets or those who are working from a central location. Although it’s not the only way to measure performance, we have seen high click-thru rates with this type of advertising. 

Through our annual advertising program, we work with about a dozen outlets in key markets with high concentrations of donations coming in through workplace campaigns. Charity Alliance members have the opportunity to work one-on-one with Global Impact staff to develop custom advertising plans to reach their target workplace donors, whether they are in the office or at home. Consider allocating funds to participate, and let us know if you are interested in learning more about the program. 

At Global Impact, we are passionate about employee engagement. We look forward to inspiring greater giving and continuing our support for charities in workplace campaigns. As you look at the year ahead, embrace new opportunities for reaching this generous audience and keep Global Impact in mind as an advisor in this space.