June 30, 2023 • By Dennis Beaver

Dennis Beaver“I am a mid-level manager in a credit and collections firm located in the South that has a history of providing college scholarships and grants that goes back many years. In fact, several of our employees received these awards which helped them to attend college.

“We encourage our employees to donate to the company’s education foundation or to the local university that we support which has been responsible for granting scholarships to many of the people who work here. We will match whatever the employee donates.

“But recently we have noticed a great deal of resistance to charitable giving by recent college graduates who, I must tell you, are much better paid than former groups of entering employees and who also received grants from this company.

“Additionally, our employee base is much more diverse than ever before, with new people from many countries.

“I let it be known that everyone expects that if you have received benefits from the company, then you should be generous, think of others and pay it forward, but what I am saying isn’t working. Have you got any suggestions? Thanks,” “Erin.”

These Things Discourage Giving

I ran Erin’s question by Jane Couperus, director of planned giving in the Division of Advancement at California State University, Bakersfield. She provided a list of things that will discourage a sense of generosity by employees, or even family members.

(1) Make Charitable Giving Mandatory:

Consequences: Forcing an employee to donate means that they are not giving from their heart, but because of the pressure you as the employer are putting on them.

They will not experience the joy of giving – that warm feeling of having done something that will benefit others. Also, your reader might not know that the employee could be giving to other charitable causes – their church, for example.

(2) Limit To Whom The Employee May Donate for Matching Funds:

Consequences: An unintended result of restricting the matching to one charity or organization can greatly reduce the employee’s desire to give to other charities.

Erin’s company would be more successful by developing a list of choices where employees could donate in addition to their own, company sponsored foundation.

(3) Restrict employee generosity to merely dollars instead of encouraging them to volunteer their time – a few hours – in a soup kitchen or at an elementary school, for example. Fail to encourage alternatives to donating money.

Consequences: A by-product of such discouragement will spill over into other areas where employees might otherwise be charitable. Charity is not only governed by a checkbook, but also by giving time, and giving one’s time to charity has a way of encouraging people to give more of their financial resources.

(4) Assume that all people – regardless of where they are from – share the same cultural views concerning giving:

Consequences: Erin will have made a huge mistake. She should go on line and look at the World Giving Index www.cafonline.org/about-us/publications/2022-publications/caf-world-giving-index-2022 , which examines the scope and nature of giving around the world looking at aspects of giving behavior, and ranking countries by asking: Have you done any of the following in the past month?

— Helped a stranger, or someone you didn’t know who needed help?

— Donated money to a charity?

— Volunteered your time to an organization?

Their findings may correlate with what Erin is discovering – that several in her “diverse” group of employees could very well be from countries where personal giving – even if they have received a college scholarship – just isn’t something they would ever think of doing.

Do your employees come from a country that pays horribly high taxes and therefore feel they have already given enough? Or, do they come from countries that aren’t known for being generous to charity?

Erin needs to explore those possible explanations for the reason some new employees do not open their wallets and donate.

(5) Fail to Respect Employees Giving History By Printing a List of Who Gave How Much and to Whom.

Consequences: This would be very embarrassing to an employee or family member who did not donate, or gave a very small amount to the organization’s pet project. You can’t shame someone into donating.

(6) Fail to accept input from employees as to which charities receive corporate donations and leave these decisions entirely in the hands of corporate management.

Consequences: The greater the participation of employees in the selection process for corporate donations, the more likely employees will be inspired to give to charity from their personal wallets.

(7) Make it clear that the wider you open your wallet – for charitable or political donations – the greater your chances of advancing in the company.

This is incredibly unethical and would paint any manager who did this as someone you could just not trust. Generosity must come from the heart, and not by the equivalent of a gun pointed at your head, or threats of “You’ll never advance unless we see you supporting this cause.”

Political and charitable donations should never be treated the same.

Charitable donations have a way of uniting people! Avoiding these pitfalls should increase your employees’ spirit of generosity.