'Tis the Season for a Giving Benefit | HR Fishbowl

I’ve always been drawn to corporate diehards who wake up one day and say “screw this.” I’m even more drawn to them when they parlay that ballsy move into purpose. Today’s Guest Post comes from a guy who did just that: Ryan Selkis has leading-edge ideas about turning workplace giving into an employee benefit.  He’s the director of GiveBack@Work, a recovering private equity professional and a renaissance man. And there is no better season for him to be sharing this awesomeness with us (love his writing style)…and for you, your HR practice, and the organization you serve to be thinking about how it might apply in your world.


Most workplace giving programs are sort of authoritarian.  The overlords in the C-suite tend to select the recipients of their company’s campaign dollars without much concern for employee preferences.  Even companies that do offer employees choices can struggle with engagement.  Why?  Very few treat workplace giving as the valuable employee benefit it can be.

But today we have CSAs – Charitable Savings Accounts – which are like 401k’s for charitable giving.  Contributions are tax-deductible and can be made through payroll deductions, and CSAs grow until the employee chooses to support a specific cause.

Skeptical that this is the “next big thing” in employee benefits?   Listen to five things your employees are screaming and connect the dots:

1) “Stop telling me how to live my life, Dad.”

The boss’s influence over employees shouldn’t carry over into their personal giving.  It’s bad business.  When companies give more choice to employees in workplace giving, participation rates rise and companies generate goodwill.  Some 73% of employees say that open programs show responsiveness to their desires, and 66% say they improve morale.  Daddy likes.

2) “I’m already a baller, but you can help me step up my game.”

You can be a hero when you set up charitable payroll deductions for your employees.  People donate over 30% more annually when they switch from cash giving to recurring gifts, generally because it makes the sacrifice less painful and more gradual.  It’s really a framing issue: “Am I donating a daily cup of coffee or an iPad?”

3) “I want it all.  I want it now.”

There are active, engaged philanthropists at your company, but the inability for them to merge their workplace and personal giving is ticking them off.  They want to make grants from their iPhones while they wait in line at the (hopefully open) bar during a Saturday night gala.  They don’t want to wait until Monday to donate through your antique workplace program.

4) “I want one account, one receipt, and one enrollment.”

CSAs allow people to tap savings every time they want to support a holiday campaign, a friend’s fundraiser or disaster relief.  These accounts are flexible (make grants of any size to any charity at any time), portable (accessible whether you move or changes jobs), and tax efficient (one tax receipt each year for the IRS).

5) “I get that you’re paranoid, but c’mon.”

CSA programs give your company “the halo without the fingerprints.” Since companies match gifts to the CSA rather than to specific charities, the concern that you match to a cause that is not aligned with corporate values is eliminated.  The CSA alleviates the administrative migraines associated with vetting charities, processing donations, and administering matching programs.  No pain.

Email Ryan to get the full white paper on CSA Programs. Or hit him up on Twitter (@RyanSelkis)

Image Credit: Your Secret Admiral (via Compfight)

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