Two questions that might ruin your day, but not your week

One consistent pattern is the low percentage of brands effectively communicating their giving. That number is 8%. Said another way; 92% of all businesses fail to deliver detailed and current information about their community giving.

It’s difficult to fathom a failure of this magnitude in the information age we live in. Being a hybrid research organization we pause when we see the unbelievable. We needed to confirm our findings. We were open to redesigning our research if we could detect the flaw. So in this case we chose to go directly to the source.

Field studies can reveal potentially foul data. We began by selecting a sample set of businesses that visibly provided charitable donations to the community. Next we had to define the precision questions we would ask employees in the field.

After multiple trials we settled on these two:

  1. Can you name a local charity this business supports?
  2. What causes do you care about? (Sometimes we had to prompt: “Homeless”, “Environment”…)

What happened next was disappointing.

Answers to question one revealed that 2 of 10 employees responded with a ‘named’ charity. That’s only a 20% success rate. (Nearly half responded with ‘United Way’)

Answers to question two revealed that 9 of 10 respondents could claim one or more personal causes. Over 75% were explicit in their answers. They offered statistics and details to ‘prove’ their affinity.

How could it be that 9 of 10 employees have no hesitation when asked to declare a personal cause – but only 2 of 10 can name a charity their employer supports?

What we learned next is insight only a field study can provide.

After the first question is asked and unanswered, the employee disappears for a spell. What generally happened was the respondent felt compelled to provide an authoritative answer. They sought a manager’s help.

If you ask these questions while dining, you can expect a manager to magically appear at your table with ready answers. Sometimes they are ‘generic’ answers. But more frequently they are very specific. Managers tend to know substantial facts.

Unfortunately, employees simply don’t know – but they care!

At times the employee was hovering over the table while the manager spoke about their commitment to the community. It’s evident they want to know this. When they discover the business is supporting their cause in some indirect or direct form they are jubilant! They become an instant fan of their employer. Being able to observe body language is one of the benefits of field studies. The attitude change is remarkable.

Whether you’re a business or a nonprofit this should ruin your day. But not your week.

This failure with a simple root cause has an even simpler solution.

How do you fix it? Here are some practical suggestions:

For businesses:

  • Print off a list of your current recipients and post it in the employee lunchroom,
  • Even more effective – put it where your patrons can readily see it themselves,
  • Maintain your website, and
  • Make sure you cover your community giving with your new employees.

For large businesses:

  • Integrate this into your New Employee Orientation (NEO) program,
  • Keep your managers informed so they can pass this information to employees, and
  • Monthly employee newsletters can help with this information gap.

For nonprofits:

  • Schedule visits with your business sponsors and have some swag in your bag,
  • Encourage employees to sign-up to receive your newsletters, and
  • Be a regular customer for your business sponsors

Your employees are your best advocates for your business. They are also your finest ambassadors. This is knowledge they will carry out to the community on your behalf – even years after they moved on. Give them the opportunity to be proud of their employer’s commitment to the community. It’s a healthy dose of attitude adjustment any workplace can appreciate.

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