Because Global Impact works directly with public and private sector – and in some cases manages entire campaigns for partners – we see firsthand the trends and impact of hosting meaningful campaign events. This year we saw a tremendous increase in the number of campaign events across the country, with campaigns hosting a wide range of events beyond charity fairs, including campaign trainings, special kickoff events and employee engagement activities. In addition to increasing awareness and support of charities worldwide, events create a sense of purpose and community among employees. As we wrap up the 2019 campaign season (we know it’s 2020 now, but the 2019 campaign season sneaks into the first part of 2020), our staff reflects on the value of hosting events and implementing unique strategies.

Training campaign ambassadors
Lauren Rutledge, manager, West Coast
Each year, campaign volunteers change, so training is necessary to get new volunteers ready and comfortable with their role. Our West Coast manager, Lauren Rutledge collaborated with campaign partner, the City of Oakland to conduct a customized training based on the goals and expectations set for their campaign ambassadors. The City of Oakland wanted the training to focus on understanding diversity in the workplace and communicating to these different audiences, especially in a way that encourages giving. Together, Lauren and the City of Oakland landed on the topics Engagement 101 and Personalities of Giving.

The training focused on the value of employee engagement and how to use workplace giving campaigns to actively engage employees, taking into account the different personalities and generational characteristics that exist in the workplace based on the tendencies of givers, matchers, and takers. Lauren and the participants explored a variety of communication techniques to best reach different audiences and encourage engagement during the campaign. To put what they learned into practice, they ended the training with a collaborative activity where everyone brainstormed and discussed at least two approaches tailored to the personalities on their team, which they could use in their campaign communications.

The training was a success, drawing in nearly all of the campaign ambassadors, who were excited to have these resources to take with them into the upcoming campaign.  Now equipped with the right tools to confidently and successfully engage their teams, they left the training feeling motivated to take on their roles.

Balancing leadership, charities and employees
Deanna Neiers, director, Northeast and central region
The fall can be an overwhelming time of year. Not only are employees busy with their own home life and work, but employee giving campaigns ramp up with a number of communications, events and activities that demand time and attention. It is important to find the right balance of activities and be intentional with communication to help employees maintain focus and stay engaged.

At the Ashland headquarters, the campaign focused on three elements to be successful – engaged leadership, charity impact and employee incentives. At their kickoff, senior leadership opened the event with remarks about the importance of giving and instructions on how employees could donate through the campaign. This was followed by presentations from six charities who spoke about their mission and shared their impact. Finally, everyone enjoyed a barbeque lunch and door prizes were awarded at the end of the event. Employees connected to the personal stories and inspirational work while enjoying an opportunity for peer-to-peer engagement.

Some may consider this style of event as “old school” or what you saw when your company ran a United Way Campaign. But the fact is, it works! This is a great example of a well-planned event. The communication was intentional — it addressed the WHY for all of the campaign communications and activities that employees would subsequently be encouraged to take part in during the campaign. It balanced the use of a leadership message with fun and peer-to-peer connection that builds community within the workplace. Inviting charities to share stories of impact and inspire employees is one of the easiest and most impactful ways to drive giving. People do not give because the technology platform is easy or there is a cool app to use, they give because someone has inspired them to be charitable.

Building community across the country
Kim Gube, director, mid-Atlantic and Southeast region
More and more employees want their workplaces to offer volunteer opportunities. For the last three years, the Wells Fargo marketing teams have coordinated with Rise Against Hunger to arrange multi-site meal packaging events throughout the country. Team members come together to package at least 10,000 meals at each location, creating a strong community across the different teams around the country. Behind the scenes, each Wells Fargo team lead recruits volunteers for 1-hour shifts and coordinates space and logistics for the activity. The activity starts with a kickoff call with the Chief Marketing Officer and a Rise Against Hunger representative. Then all the offices receive detailed instructions on the activity and start their first shift simultaneously.

In 2017, 900 Wells Fargo team members across seven locations in five cities packed nearly 130,000 meals. The following year, another Wells Fargo department joined in and hosted meal packaging events with their teams across the country. While working together to helping those in need, employees walk away with a sense of accomplishment and a stronger connection to their colleagues.

Creating a one-stop shop for campaign leads
Brittany Mattfeld, senior director, Campaign Engagement
The Washington, D.C., area is home to nearly 400,000 federal employees  , all of whom are eligible to give through the Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area. With campaign workers across the multiple departments and agencies, the campaign staff host a kickoff to share tools and resources for campaign leaders to develop their own events and strategies within their individual campaigns. This includes a strong charity speaker that delivers their organization’s specific mission and impact, as well as the overall power of giving through the CFC.

This year, more than 400 federal employees gathered for the kickoff and heard from the keynote, David Miliband, CEO of International Rescue Committee (IRC), a Global Impact charity. His speech encapsulated how IRC began in 1933 when physicist and humanitarian Albert Einstein became a refugee himself and knew there was an urgent need to help. At the time, there were no established refugee programs and no aid agencies; thus, IRC became a trailblazer in providing help to Europe’s displaced populations. As millions have faced displacement, and that number continues to grow, IRC’s call to action remains clear.

In addition to inspirational speakers, the kickoff and additional trainings equip campaign workers with the knowledge and tools to inspire giving. These events are a one-stop shop for any campaign worker looking to be inspired, loaded with resources and energized to start planning campaign events within their office.

Connecting to the global community through education and experience
Teresa Connor, senior director, New York region
In an effort to engage their colleagues in the yearly giving campaign, the team at American Express sought to create an experience that would both educate and inspire individuals to give. Instead of hosting a traditional charity fair or having a single speaker present, American Express campaign coordinators reached out to Global Impact to see what resources were available to educate donors on a variety of global issues. Global Impact was able to host a lunchtime experience with curated activities that told the story of the lifesaving work of Global Impact’s partners around the world.

Members of the American Express community had the opportunity to stop by and watch a virtual reality movie where they could visit a Syrian refugee camp in Za’atari, Jordan, home to 130,000 refugees, half of whom are children. Another option was to join UNICEF on a virtual expedition of a remote area of Uganda, following a 12-year-old boy in his daily struggles. Attendees also tried on middle upper arm circumference bands that are used by Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders staff in the field to quickly determine malnutrition in children under the age of 5. They tasted Plumpy’Nut, a ready-to-use therapeutic food used to treat severe acute malnutrition in children beginning at 6 months. They also were able to see what it was like to sleep under a one of the mosquito nets that Compassion International provides to children and their families to help prevent diseases like malaria, the Zika virus and dengue fever, all of which lead to missed school, hospital stays and in extreme cases, death.

These experiences, coupled with American Express’ use of social media and marketing in advance and during the event helped to create a lively atmosphere where employees could learn about global issues, ask questions and get more involved through action, advocacy and giving.

Closing thoughts 
From impact on giving and level of engagement to the time and resources required for planning, the benefit of hosting events can be difficult to quantify. But it is clear that, in order to build a successful employee engagement program, there must be opportunities for connection and community. These 2019 examples offer some best practices for the year ahead. Challenge the typical charity fair. Be unique. Utilize tools from Global Impact and other nonprofits to enhance your event.

Contact our team to learn more about strategies and opportunities that can help support your campaign events and goals.