Beyond the Bottom Line: Leveraging Cloud Technology to Enhance Business’s Social Impact
It’s hard not to be excited by the increasing prominence of social entrepreneurship, social enterprises, and mission-driven businesses. But our excitement at the potential of innovative new ideas and companies shouldn’t lead us to neglect the untapped potential for all businesses to increase their social impact, even if they do not fundamentally change their business model.
What untapped potential is this? Let’s look at a few statistics:
Giving by individuals amounted to $227 billion in 2012, which accounts for nearly three-quarters of all charitable donations.
For the third straight year, total charitable donations increased in 2012. Donations in 2012 rose by 3.5% compared to 2011.
Workplace giving programs funnel around $4.8 billion to charity each year.
Average participation in employee giving programs has fallen from 41% in 2006 to 33% in 2012.
An estimated $10 billion is left on the table every year because employees do not take advantage of company matching programs.
These statistics raise perplexing questions: Given how many people donate to charity every year, and how much they donate, why does so little giving take place through the workplace? $4.8 billion represents about 2% of the $227 billion given by individuals. In so many other areas of our lives, from finances to health care, our careers have a massive influence. Why is it that our professional lives seem to have so little influence on our charitable giving? And why is participation down, especially when total giving is up?
Regardless of what kind of company you are, it is a safe bet that your employees possess a healthy dose of philanthropic energy. But too many companies are not harnessing this philanthropic energy via workplace giving programs and campaigns. For every dollar going to charity as a result of workplace giving programs, two dollars are getting left on the table. We could triple the amount of money raised in the workplace without doing anything more than getting employees to take advantage of opportunities already available to them. That we are failing to do this despite employees’ clear desire to give is cause for concern.
Photograph By Danka Peter
Bright Funds aims to change this. By leveraging the power of cloud technology, Bright Funds is giving employees the tools to become effective philanthropists at work. Built on the model of mutual funds, Bright Funds creates “funds” of charitable organizations working in six issue areas: education, poverty, the environment, water, health, and human rights. Each fund is a collection of some of the best nonprofits working on these issues. Funds are built through a rigorous process of vetting and assessment based on several criteria, including financial health, accountability, transparency, and peer survey ratings.
When employees give through Bright Funds, they do so with confidence that their donations are going to top organizations working on the causes that matter most to them. And they receive real-time updates on the results of their giving through an individualized “impact timeline” that provides direct evidence (in the form of photos, videos, and stories from those on the ground) that their donations are making a difference. Because Bright Funds’ platform is cloud-based, it is scalable and does not require lengthy IT integration. Employees can sign up and start doing good within 24 hours of their company partnering with Bright Funds.
Bright Funds is making high-impact charitable giving programs accessible to businesses of all shapes and sizes. Where a company giving program based on thorough research and assessment of nonprofit effectiveness used to be out of reach for all but the largest, most successful companies, Bright Funds is empowering small businesses and startups with the kind of giving tools and programs we associate with corporate foundations run by Fortune 500 companies.
The case for bringing a flexible, robust, up-to-date workplace giving program to your business is a no-brainer. Not only does a strong workplace giving program mean that your company can increase its social impact, the evidence suggests that employees who participate in their company’s giving program are more likely to be engaged at work. And companies with engaged employees perform as much as 202% better than companies without engaged employees. In short, employee giving programs are a win-win for businesses: a way to combine “doing good” with “doing good business.”
To learn more about how Bright Funds is changing the way businesses “give back” and bringing corporate philanthropy and social responsibility into the virtual age, check out Bright Funds’ workplace giving platform, or follow Bright Funds on Twitter or Facebook.
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