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‘Giving’ at the Kapor Center

Nonprofits all over the nation try to mobilize their supporters around Giving Tuesday, the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and the day after Cyber Monday, in an effort to celebrate and create a movement for giving and personal philanthropy. For the second year, I have had the pleasure of spearheading a giving campaign at the Kapor Center to encourage staff usage of our matching gifts program, to celebrate the ways our 60+ staff give of their time, talent, and treasure to community organizations, and to leverage our giving to have even greater impact than is possible as individuals.

Our giving campaign implemented the following strategies that I believe any company can use to celebrate staff philanthropy.

  1. Get an understanding of how your staff already engage in personal philanthropy.

We created opportunities for staff to tell their own stories about volunteering and giving. Last year was the first time that we asked staff to complete a Giving Survey for information on who served on nonprofit boards or who volunteered at which nonprofit organizations and similar questions around staff philanthropy. This survey also allowed us to find out what issue-areas staff were most interested in supporting through volunteering and financial support.

This Fall, for the 2nd year in a row, we held a #GivingTuesday luncheon to launch our annual giving campaign and gave staff an opportunity to actually talk about their favorite nonprofits with their fellow staff.

We also tried doing a social media campaign to tell stories of how staff give back to community.

2. Create simple and easy opportunities for staff to support local initiatives.

In addition to finding out what issue-areas staff are most interested in, you can create specific group activities for staff to participate in as a collective unit. This Fall, we organized a food drive for the Alameda County Food Bank with the goal of providing 150 pounds of food, up from our 105-pound donation in 2017. We also held a toiletry/hygiene drive for Downtown Oakland’s Ambassador program.

3. If there are staff in your company who have special interests in certain initiatives and are willing to corral staff around that particular interest, give them the space and budgetary support to do so.

For example, we have a staff member who has a particular affinity for adopt-a-family programs in the East Bay. Through her relationship with these organizations, we supported her efforts to engage even more Kapor Center staff in the Adopt-a-Family programs for MISSSEY and the Alameda County Social Services Agency. This has helped more of our staff learn about the impactful work of these nonprofit organizations AND has helped staff to bond in a different way by shopping together for families and through wrapping presents together as an all-staff event which included folks who didn’t necessarily adopt a family themselves.

4. Eliminate barriers to utilization of staff benefits, including matching gift programs and volunteer time off.

I believe that companies who have matching gift and volunteer-time-off programs really want to enable their staff to use these benefits. That being said, companies should realize that not all staff have the financial stability to donate much of their funds to nonprofits — especially in an expensive place like the Bay Area where rent costs are extremely high. Because of that, how can companies be creative in eliminating those barriers for their staff?

This year, we held a one-day, #GivingTuesday 2:1 matching gift campaign for Oakland-based organizations with a specific campaign to raise at least $6,000 for our own SMASH program. This allowed staff to spend only 1/2 of the necessary amount to fully utilize their $1,000 matching gift benefit. Having this deal be just one day helped us both manage the logistics that go along with collecting receipts and payment information for that one day when the rules were altered AND create excitement around the special opportunity for staff to get more bang for their philanthropic buck!

We also instituted a Community Giving Pool for staff who were not able to use their full matching gift benefit. For example, if a staff person was only going to use $300 from their $1,000 matching gift benefit, they could contribute the remaining $700 to a Community Giving Pool that would be split to support a collective of nonprofit organizations selected by staff.

At the Kapor Center, the Community Giving Pool funds were aggregated to support a select group of nonprofit organizations that were chosen by staff vote as part of a pitch competition held during our #GivingTuesday luncheon. Any staff member could pitch their favorite nonprofit for a chance to receive a portion of the funding. Luncheon attendees voted on the pitch finalists, and any staff who donated a portion of their matching gift benefit to the Community Giving Pool could vote on how funds would ultimately be distributed to the pitch finalists. This was our way of trying to incorporate the world of tech VC pitches into the broader internal culture of the Kapor Center.

The organizations that we supported through the Community Giving Pool included: ConcrnGrateful GatheringsLotus BloomMaynard InstituteMISSSEYEast Bay Community Music Project1DegreeMission Bit, and Race on Campus Conference.

Kapor Center staff, Jonathan Garcia, at University of the Redlands’ Race on Campus Conference

One of the most interesting outcomes of our pitch competition and providing opportunities for staff to tell stories about their favorite nonprofits is the increase in the number of staff who support those nonprofits. It creates a kind of snowball effect that creates deeper community connections.

There are so many amazing ways that companies can get staff excited about giving. These were just a few ways that the Kapor Center used to activate our staff around philanthropy. As part of this campaign, we were able to get $61,000 out into the community. We had a 98.4% participation rate in the Giving Campaign with over 74% percent of staff donating a portion or all of their matching gift benefit to the Community Giving Pool to pool over $36,000. Staff had close to an additional $25,000 in direct donations that were matched by the Kapor Center.

We will continue to come up with new ideas to further support staff philanthropy in 2019. I’d love to hear some of the innovations in staff philanthropy where you work!