Charities strain to meet corporate engagement expectations

By Dan Cook

For-profits and nonprofits are doing a better job of forging partnerships to support one another, but they still struggle with fully meeting corporate expectations around employee engagement.

That was among the big-picture findings when America’s Charities compared results of its 2013 survey of employers and 2014 survey of nonprofits. The organization, which facilitates partnerships between these two worlds, interviewed about 100 companies last year and over 200 nonprofits this year.

America’s Charities led off with the good news: the alignment between the two parties is proceeding.

“The study revealed the most dramatic shift in workplace giving over the past decade, as companies move to more fully engage employees and maximize the giving experience inside and outside the walls of the workplace,” the report said. “Companies are looking more strategically at employee engagement and connecting it to broader social responsibility strategies and objectives.”

Employees, in fact, are pushing their employers to support their desire to serve their favorite charities. Sixty-eight percent of companies said their employees “expect them to support volunteerism.”

Charities are well aware of the trend.

“Nearly 50 percent of the charities responding to the survey said the number of requests to engage with employees has increased within the last three years,” the report said. “Additionally, they see a growing number of young professionals engage with nonprofit organizations.”

However, many charities reported they weren’t quite ready to provide the “giving experience” companies are seeking. They cited a lack of “scalable volunteer projects readily available,” as well as not having the staff to effectively create and manage the volunteer opportunities their partners in the for-profit world were seeking.

“These requests can be difficult for charities to respond to given their limited staff and resources. … Often, though, charities respond because they don’t want to turn away a corporate request. This creates a misalignment of resources and effort on both sides of the equation.”

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