Ask and Ye Shall Receive - Memories from My Day Job

As an employee communications specialist for a large engineering firm, my primary role was supporting the vision of the company to “engage employees.” With seven business unit offices across North America, more than 200 project offices, and more than 18,000 full-time employees, it was a decent-sized firm.

One of my assignments was to “run the United Way campaign.” The message I got from on-high was we usually gave around $80,000 in employee and matching funds to our corporate-office-location United Way, but it was kind of a pain in the ass. Since the HR VP didn’t want to do it, maybe the new kid in Corp Comm would take it over. My boss asked me what I thought, and I was more than happy to do some work that felt good for the world.

And, if I was doing it, I was going to do it better.

Strategic Approach to Annual Fundraising Campaign

Step 1: Audit

Participation: Over the past decade, the company averaged $85,000 per year ($20,000 corporate gift, $15,000 in total from the C-Suite (15 executives), and $50,000 from around 750 employees at the corporate and civil engineering offices in our physical office location). That’s $66 per employee, average.

Process: A “kickoff meeting” where employees could come get free coffee and watch a video about being a “department champion,” a bunch of donation pledge envelopes, a link to the recurring donation portal to distribute via eNews (a project I also developed!) with some reminder emails each week.

Content: Prepackaged from the United Way campaign coordinator.

Step 2: New Goals

  • Increase C-suite donation by asking one corporate executive with the lowest amount pledged ($1,000) to increase his donation to $10,000 if we could meet our campaign goal of $100,000.

  • Increase individual donation average to $86 per employee.

Step 3: Process Management

  1. Develop a bold new marketing strategy that communicated:

    1. A clear goal with the possibility of a $10,000 bonus pledge at the end

    2. Ways to give that were rewards (i.e. wear jeans to work day, contests, drawings)

    3. Ways to experience the campaign (i.e. challenges, contests, and group events)

    4. Swag

Step 4: Measure Results

In the first year, the new campaign totaled $112,000 in total giving. In the second year, the campaign reached $120,000 for the first time for the company.