Philanthropy can fuel productivity

Why companies should encourage charitable giving – and a few resources to help you give

In Idealog issue 56, we looked at how giving money away ain't as easy as you might think – if you are a wealthy individual, that is. But keep at it; research shows it could boost your company’s productivity.

It’s hard to argue against philanthropy – and every year New Zealanders give away around $3 billion of their hard-earned money. Businesses are under-represented in that number. Total business giving in the latest Philanthropy NZ Giving New Zealand survey (2011), showed corporate giving accounted for only around $150 million.

If your co-workers aren’t giving, perhaps it’s time they did – and not just for the good of humanity. Here are five reasons why philanthropy is good for productivity. Followed by some cunning ways to make it easy for individuals and companies to dig into their pockets at work.

1) Productive teams

Knowing that the office time you’re putting in today will positively benefit someone else seems to be a strong motivator for company employees.

A 2014 study found when charitable donations are made on behalf of your company’s employees, productivity goes up by an average of 13%. That number increases to 30% for the least productive workers.

2) The feel-good factor

According to a study on voluntary giving and neural responses, giving to a charity releases brain chemicals such as endorphins and dopamine. These natural chemicals can lead to feelings of happiness, which can keep your employees and co-workers in positive moods and potentially prevent friction and problems.

3) Improves health

Possibly because of the physiological responses of giving to others, giving to charity can also reduce your blood pressure and reduce illness, leading to fewer employee sick days.  One study in particular found that people who give to others score an average of one point higher on a five-point health scale than those who don’t.

4) Builds brand recognition

Getting out and about in your community will help increase your brand recognition. Research suggests putting some of your marketing fund into a charity results in both publicity for your business, as well as support for the organization.

5) Co-worker cooperation

While deciding which charity to support, you may find out more about your employees. A co-worker may comment that she'd like to support a cancer research charity because her mother had cancer. These conversations can help bring a team closer together while helping you learn more about one another.

If you’re donating time, rather than money, to a cause, you also have the opportunity to learn about the other skills that your co-workers possess.

How to give

After you decide you want to make a charitable donation and choose a cause to support, it’s time to decide how to raise money.

There are a myriad of ways – think about setting up a monthly donation, holding local events or donating items for a raffle.

But there are also cunning online tools to make it easier to support the charity:

Direct Payments

There are a plethora of online payment solutions that allow you to send payments directly to a charity. One of the most common is PayPal, which companies like eBay use for taking payments. Another option is Front Stream, which is specifically geared toward philanthropic giving.

Collective Fundraising

You could fundraise directly through your company's website, or take advantage of dedicated sites such as Be Collective. These sites aim to create social networks where people collect globally, with the aim of giving back to society. They also create a fantastic networking opportunity as your team puts together fundraising strategies with those who have similar aims.

Giving Apps

Most charities have their own dedicated apps, but your team could consider an app like GiveGab. It’s similar to the collective fundraising option mentioned above in that it provides global networking opportunities and puts together fundraising campaigns. It also allows you to take donations and track your volunteer engagement.

Microvolunteering

A new movement in charity, microvolunteering allows people with busy lives to give their time to charity. Sites such as Microvolunteering Day help match people with causes to support, as well as share stories and photos of microvolunteering events around the world.

Tell us your stories. Has your company donated to charities in the past? If so, what kinds of changes did you see in the workplace and local community? Comment here

Kayla Matthews is a writer and blogger with a passion for workplace productivity and business solutions. Follow her on Google+ and Twitter to read all of her latest posts.