Giving to charity at work

New research by The Charities Aid Foundation has highlighted the impact that giving to charity can have on employees.

The survey asked respondents about their employers’ approaches towards supporting good causes. Fifty-seven per cent felt that businesses that encouraged charity donations and supported employees with volunteering their time for good causes boosted employee morale, whilst 48% believed that companies who facilitated this kind of support for charities and good causes were better employers overall.

In what ways do businesses support charities?

Alongside making their own direct charitable giving donations, there are several ways businesses can make it easier for employees to support charities. Some offer payroll giving, enabling employees to make tax-efficient donations via payroll deductions.

Dedicated volunteer days providing paid time off for employees to volunteer to help out with good causes are increasing in popularity.  Donation matching is another way companies can encourage and support employees’ efforts by matching and therefore doubling employee charitable donations and fundraising up to specified levels.

A sense of social responsibility aside, there are several reasons why it makes sense for businesses to facilitate these kinds of activities. It’s not just millennials who want to make a difference while making a living; employees across all generations are scrutinising the work environments they find, or could find, themselves in and are taking the social impact of it into account.

Supporting charities is an effective way to say something about the company culture, valuable for both attracting new recruits and retaining talent (something that’s getting ever more essential for companies struggling with rising staff turnover and recruitment challenges).

Volunteering can help employees become more engaged in the community, generating positive publicity for the company and giving a boost to its reputation. It can also be beneficial for employee development; many of the activities employees engage in can also support the development of collaborative and leadership skills.

What about the potential impact on employees?

There’s no doubt that the need to give and support others can be a powerful force – but what lies behind that desire to do it? There’s been plenty of research to try to understand the psychology behind giving and here are just some of the reasons that help explain why people feel driven to do it and why they can end up benefitting too.

It allows employees to be consistent with their personal values

The Charities Aid Foundation report “Why we give” reveals 96% of people give because of their sense of social conscience. They recognise they have the power to improve the lives of others, view that as a privilege and feel a sense of moral duty. Ultimately, giving to charity enables employees to live in a way that’s consistent with their own personal values – so it figures that the more a company facilitates this, the more benefit an employee will feel.

It enhances happiness, health and wellbeing

Studies reveal the power of the act of giving in affecting happiness. Research shows that generous behaviour is linked to higher levels of happiness. Not only does it appear that giving makes people happier, it can also trigger a positive spiral whereby giving to charity and a sense of happiness drive one other. There’s also evidence that the act of giving can be beneficial to health and wellbeing. Helping others appears to create a sense of purpose which enhances both physical and mental health.

It affirms employees’ skills

Using skills in a context other than work can give employees a chance to recognise and appreciate quite what they are capable of. Sometimes it’s easy to slip into a rut and carry out activities without really pausing to appreciate the value for other people. Transferring their skills into a new environment as they use them to support a charity can open employees’ eyes to quite how beneficial their skillset can be.

It creates a sense of connection

Employees can benefit from the sense of connection created by supporting charities. The brain is hardwired to connect socially so charitable activities, particularly social acts like volunteering, that enable employees to spend time working towards a common purpose with others can contribute towards developing that strong sense of positive connection.

Read more: Could employee recognition support workplace wellbeing?