The Ice Bucket Challenge and Corporate Philanthropy

September 5th, 2014 Comments off
The #IceBucketChallenge: A Corporate Philanthropy Win

OK, by now you’re probably a bit worn out from the #IceBucketChallenge taking over your newsfeed over the past few weeks. But if you had the opportunity to do the challenge, you know firsthand how freezing cold the water actually is gratifying it is to be part of a great cause that actually makes a difference in the world.

As of Thursday, Sept. 4, the ALS Association has raised $108.4 million in Ice Bucket Challenge donations from more than 3 million donors. WOW. Just let that “soak in” for a minute. So how did it all get started, and how did organizations jump on board? An ALS Association press release lists Wells Fargo, Sprint, Parsons Foundation, The New York Yankees, and Carnival Cruise Lines in particular to recognize them for donating between $100,000 and $200,000, and notes:

In the spirit of the challenge, there was some friendly competition among many of these donors. John Legere was one of the first CEOs to accept the Ice Bucket Challenge with a personal gift and passed the challenge to his peers at other wireless networks, to which Sprint promptly responded. Carnival Cruise Lines made a donation and its Chairman, Micky Arison, responded in kind with a personal match of his own.

As you may know, other brands weren’t shy about getting a little piece of the action. For example as Digiday reports, a Coke executive accepted and did the challenge with a polar bear (fake, of course) in the background; she evidently challenged a few other brands including a General Mills exec, asking him to do it with Cheerios’ Honey Bee; and a Target exec, challenging him to do it with the famous Bullseye dog.

A recent Washington Post article pointed to the trend that a good number of tech CEOs in particular jumped in on the challenge — including Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Elon Musk of Tesla, Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Tim Cook of Apple, and Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google.

The #IceBucketChallenge: A Corporate Philanthropy WinAnd speaking of tech companies, when Cars.com graciously challenged us, a fellow Chicago tech company, to participate in the #IceBucketChallenge to wipe out ALS, we accepted without hesitation and made a donation to the ALS Association to help fund further research. It was definitely a corporate philanthropy win in our books.

Of course we all did our part to improvise, so you’ll see in the below video that we decided to dump buckets of Arctic-cold water with large chunks of ice on one of our executives, Brian Donahue. He didn’t know it was coming, and the look on his face is priceless.

Take a look…

More than just a fun time

For CareerBuilder, accepting the #IceBucketChallenge was a no-brainer and a win in more ways than one. Similarly, there are benefits to any corporate philanthropy initiative:

1. You’re supporting a great cause.

First, and most importantly, it was important to us to support a great cause. It’s probably important to you, too. It’s the right thing to do and is your opportunity to make a positive impact in the world — not to mention it gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

2. It boosts talent attraction.

In a piece on AllBusiness.com, Morley Winograd — a senior fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy and co-author of Millennial Momentum — says:

“More than 85 percent of millennials link commitment to a cause to their purchasing decisions and their willingness to recommend a company’s brand to others. Millennials are likely to switch brands of equal price and quality if one is tied to a good cause.”

Hear that? And while millennials may be more vocal about it, it’s certainly not exclusive to this generation.

3. It’s good for customers, too.

Not that the primary reason for giving should be to churn greater profits, but it certainly is a welcome side effect. According to a 2013 study from marketing and public relations firm Cone Communications and Echo Global:

“Based on similar product availability and prices, 91 percent of customers will switch to brands that support good causes.”

4. Videos can help build your employment brand.

Remember the “Harlem Shake” video craze last year? We shared with you back then that even though it may have seemed borderline cliche to jump on the bandwagon, the embrace of the trend by employers indicated something huge: Understanding that video, as a recruitment tool, is no longer the exception — but the rule- to candidate attraction and aids in the overall effort of building your employment brand.

5. It boosts employee engagement. 

About 7 in 10 employers say they’ve aligned their giving campaign with some of their other employee engagement programs and/or corporate philanthropic initiatives, according to a Forbes article. That’s quite a notable jump — 38 percent increase, to be exact — from 2006. In addition, according to research collected by Northwestern University:

“There is also confirmation that employees with favorable opinions of their organization’s socially responsible activities are more engaged, confident and likely to state an intention to stay with the organization.” (Kenexa, 2010).

Tips to commit to corporate philanthropy

The #IceBucketChallenge: A Corporate Philanthropy WinReady to commit? Read this first:

  • Research causes and issues which are important to you and to your employees before committing to one in particular.
  • Once you do find a cause that you would like to become involved in, it is important to set clear goals, be proactive in your efforts, and keep lines of communication open both with your employees and the nonprofit you are involved with.
  • Take steps to ensure that you are entering a partnership with the group or foundation of your choice. Philanthropy should not be one-sided, but beneficial for both parties.

Tell us in the comments below or tweet us at @CBforEmployers: What are your corporate philanthropy initiatives? How to you use it to attract and engage employees? Share your stories with us.

We know you want to see that picture again! Here it is one last time in all its glory…

The #IceBucketChallenge: A Corporate Philanthropy Win

Want to Woo Millennials (While Doing Some Good)? Try Volunteering

May 30th, 2014 Comments off

How volunteering can boost employee engagementThings that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside: cute puppies snuggling with stuffed animals, warm spiced ginger tea and…volunteering. While offering employees free puppies may not be feasible, offering them access to volunteering opportunities can serve as a great tool to attract, engage and retain candidates — millennials in particular.

We want to know how YOUR company does its part to help your community. Follow and tweet us your stories and pictures @CBforEmployers.

Community service days is one of those employee perks that can go a long way in terms of employee engagement. Sponsoring companywide volunteer days is a good way to boost employee morale and encourage team-building at the same time. U.S. BankGap and Intuit are just a few of the many companies today that give employees paid time off to volunteer.

More than 3 in 5 (62 percent) Gen Y respondents in a 2007 survey said they would prefer to work for companies that give them opportunities to contribute their talents to nonprofit organizations.

CareerBuilder volunteers at a resume workshop

Not long ago, CareerBuilder partnered with Upwardly Global — a non-profit that helps work-authorized, skilled immigrants rebuild their professional careers in the U.S. — to host a resume workshop for job seekers.

I was fortunate to participate and work one-on-one with a Belarusian research scientist to spruce up her resume. I can honestly say it was one of the most rewarding and personally-fulfilling experiences of my life, and I was grateful for the access to the opportunity as well as the flexibility afforded me as the workshop was on a weekday afternoon.

Volunteering opportunity at 826CHI

A few weeks ago, some CareerBuilder employees partnered with 826CHI, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center, for a job search and resume workshop for its volunteers and interns.

So whether it’s raising funds or raising awareness or even just raising spirits, offering employees opportunities to volunteer can not only boost engagement but also help a good cause.

Tell us in the comments below: Does your organization offer volunteering opportunities or time off for employees to volunteer?

Just Cause: 5 Ways to Empower Employment Through Philanthropy

April 18th, 2013 Comments off

MentoringOver the past few weeks, we’ve identified ways in which companies are working to empower employment – both in their local communities and beyond. From external outreach programs to in-house training and development programs to initiatives that help the long-term unemployed, more and more companies are finding innovative ways to combat the growing skills gap.

And the examples keep coming. Some companies, such as Rescare, are taking a philanthropic approach to ensure workers are equipped with the skills employers need, both now and for years to come. Rescare’s mission is to help people reach their highest level of independence and empower them to find career success. With that in mind, the company dedicates its Workforce Services division to training unemployed and underemployed people with the skills they need to find jobs.

Every time a person finds a job…the community benefits, and ultimately the country benefits as well,” Rescare President and CEO Ralph G. Gronefeld, Jr. told The Hiring Site in an interview earlier this year. “We’d like to offer our services to companies that must close the gap between the skilled workers they need and the talent available in the marketplace.”

Learn more about Rescare’s mission here:

Get Involved: Ways Your Company Can Help
Corporate philanthropy not only helps the community overall, but they help increase employee engagement and reduce turnover. Rally your organization – from the top down – to get involved. Consider partnering with non-profit organizations such as JobsCorp, Dress for Success, Goodwill, Salvation Army and United Way, which provide ample opportunities to volunteer and help out individuals and groups in need of support. Other ideas include:

  • Sponsore a local career services fairs, where unemployed individuals can take advantage of free job search help, resume review services and interview practice
  • Create companywide volunteer days where employees go to local schools to tutor or mentor students from low income families
  • Have clothing drives so employees can donate professional interview att­ire to those looking for work.
  • Partner with schools and non-profits – like Big Brothers Big Sisters - to educate students and motivate them to pursue higher education in the industries most in need of skilled workers.

Is your organization making an effort to empower employment? Visit www.EmpoweringEmployment.com to share your story.

Are You Bringing Your Dog to the Office Tomorrow? June 25 is Take Your Dog to Work Day

June 24th, 2010 Comments off

Take Your Dog to Work Day, started by Pet Sitters International, was first celebrated in 1999 (with 300 companies participating) to celebrate the companionship of dogs and encourage people to adopt dogs from humane societies, animal shelters and breed rescue clubs.  As we’ve discussed in the past, this annual event encourages employers to experience the value of pets in the workplace for one designated day, for the primary purpose of promoting pet adoptions and better the lives of shelter dogs.

And while bringing a four-legged friend to work isn’t practical for every kind of work environment, supporters claim having dogs around the office has many benefits, including lowering stress and boosting employee morale.

There are a lot of ways you can get involved in Take Your Dog to Work Day, including partnering with a local shelter to bring adoptable dogs into the office. And if bringing dogs into your work environment just isn’t possible, consider finding another way to give back to the canine community — like volunteering with The Humane Society. Some businesses, like Esser Vineyards, are getting creative with events like Take Your Dog to Dinner Night, in which they donate wine to be paired with cuisine to dog-friendly participating restaurants, while diners’ furry pals enjoy a free meal.

Those who sign up and participate in the day get celebration ideas, sucess tips, a sample “dogs at work” policy for the office, coupons, pet product offerings, and the comfort of knowing they are helping raise awareness of shelter dogs and pet adoption. Tomorrow too tight of a deadline? You can request info for next year’s event.

Steve Dale has some great tips to make the day a success (like “give your dog a job” by stuffing some food in its toys), and TakeYourDog.com offers some of their own:

  • Dogs should be kept on a leash, unless in the employee’s office or cubicle.
  • Employees should use a baby gate to prevent dogs from leaving their office unsupervised.
  • Specific areas, such as bathrooms or employee dining halls, can be designated as dog-free.
  • Have a back up plan for taking the dog home if he or she is not comfortable in the work environment.
  • Find a local pet sitter at Pet Sitters International to provide midday walks to employees’ dogs.

Are you celebrating Take Your Dog to Work Day, or thinking about getting information to participate next year? Or are dogs in the office a no-go? Let us know!

What Do Candidates Really Want This Holiday Season — and Are They Getting It?

December 10th, 2009 Comments off

coloreddotsWhile it’s true that many companies have been forced to make difficult business decisions this year, many employers still plan to reward their employees for hard work with holiday perks like bonuses, gifts and parties — even if these perks are scaled back a bit. These results are from CareerBuilder’s recent survey about workplace holiday giving among more than 3,000 hiring managers and HR professionals. We’ve got the lowdown on what businesses are doing about bonuses, gifts, and the oft-infamous work holiday party.


  • Nearly three in ten (29 percent) employers plan to give their employees holiday bonuses this year.  Among that group, 16 percent are planning to give the same amount as in previous years, while 11 percent plan to give less.
  • Twelve percent of employers say they will not be issuing holiday bonuses even though they have in previous years.


  • More than a quarter (26 percent) of employers plan to give holiday gifts, with 15 percent planning to spend the same amount for workers as in previous years.  Eight percent plan to spend less.
  • Another eight percent say they are not planning to give holidays gifts in 2009, even though they have in years past.


  • Almost half (49 percent) of employers are planning a holiday party for their employees this year.  Of that group, 30 percent plan to throw the same party as in previous years, while 18 percent are planning something on a smaller scale.
  • Eleven percent of employers don’t plan to have a holiday party in 2009 even though they have in previous years.

“After a challenging year, some organizations are cutting back on the holiday perks that they may have offered in previous years,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources for CareerBuilder. “Even though holiday bonuses, gifts and parties may be trimmed back this season, employers are doing what they can to reward their workers and get their staffs in the holiday spirit.”

So with cutbacks more prevalent in the workplace,  how can you make your employees happy this holiday season? What do they really want?

Here are some alternative workplace gift-giving ideas:

  • The gift of financial preparedness. Help employees be realistic in their holiday budgeting this holiday season. Workers often need to budget more carefully around the holidays, so let your employees know upfront and early whether or not they can expect a bonus this season. This way, they will be able to gauge whether they’ll have that extra money for a plane ticket — or whether they’ll have to stock up on canned soups for dinner this season. Give your employees the gift of preparedness; their pocketbooks will thank you.
  • The gift of giving. Volunteering is a great workplace activity all year ’round, but if you’re looking for an alternative to the typical (and pricey) holiday bash, I can’t think of a better way than helping others in need by donating time to local charities.  Volunteering with your team or company still allows you to be out of the office in a social setting while fostering your holiday spirit, giving back to your local community, and making the holiday a bit nicer for someone else. Sites like VolunteerMatch let you search for volunteer opportunities in your local area. Read more tips about finding a charity here and here, find an extensive list of charities here, and check out the Better Business Bureau’s “Charities and Donors” section for more resources.
  • The gift of fun. Even if your company holiday party is canceled, you can still  celebrate the season with your employees with some warm drinks and hot food. Office potlucks are a great and budget-friendly way to have a low-key celebration in the office with your employees. Even better, as commuting after work hours can sometimes present obstacles for employees, you can host a potluck breakfast or lunch during the work day. As an alternative, screen a movie of your employees’ choosing, pop some popcorn and provide sodas, and have a low-key but entertaining in-office party.
  • The gift of appreciation. While material gifts are nice, sometimes nothing is better than getting a bit of recognition for work well done, whether it’s for a single project or an entire financial quarter’s worth of blood, sweat and tears. As we have learned, 79 of employees who quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as a key reason for leaving. Remember to say “thank you” to your employees this holiday season! Even small gestures, like a  card or letter with your sincere words of thanks can mean a lot to your employees. Spontaneity of gestures can also be a nice change in the work routine; grab your employees coffee and bagels unexpectedly one morning — or dream up your own creative way to say “thanks.”

  • The gift of friends and family. While employees may enjoy coming to work, they may in fact be longing to spend more time with loved ones outside the office, especially around the holidays. Yes, businesses are busier than ever, often juggling fewer people and more work — but your employees will enjoy and appreciate even a small break from the grind. Consider letting them leave a bit early one afternoon, or offer a flexible work option for a week or two, like coming in early/leaving early, or working four 10-hour days so they can take a long weekend. Different options will work for different types of businesses — but employees will savor the gift of more time with loved ones — and they’ll likely come back more refreshed, relaxed, and focused post-holiday.
  • The gift of choice. One final idea: Ask your employees what they want this holiday season! Let them know that budgets are tight, but that you want to celebrate with them and show them your gratitude for their work and dedication. Let them brainstorm ideas, and pick one or implement them all.

What are you giving your employees this holiday season?