Rise of international giving creates new expectations and examinations
Global companies are actively seeking out solutions for their international work forces. The interest is wide-spread and consistent. Yet, to date, the demand for such an offering has yet to be adequately supplied. Even the most progressive, charitable, and supportive companies ask for a commonly (and widely) accepted product that brings about an equal solution, for all employees, throughout the world. It’s not unreasonable to think that, by now, technology would have been able to deliver this. However, the accepted conclusion tells us otherwise. We mention this for one simple reason: the challenge is real and we are working with our clients, partners, and enthusiast to find the most reliable, comprehensive, and secure global solution – all in our effort to develop global good!
After all “developing global good” is not just a marketing catch-phrase. It expresses YourCause’spurpose to influence corporate philanthropy beyond national borders and help deliver assistance to international charities. For this reason, we make it our priority to explain why and how a CSR strategy should consider expanding charitable options to international workplace giving.
The Business Case
Due to resources and information via technology, awareness of global issues is now more accessible than ever, resulting in a rise of international giving. In fact, giving to international affairs rose 15.3% in 2010 and was the largest increase of any subsector, according to the recently released Giving USA‟s 2011 report.
What does this mean for workplace giving? It means that donors who think globally are shaping the expectations of current and future employee giving programs. In fact, companies cite that an increase in employee participation is the main business case for a change. Therefore, 37% of major U.S. companies plan to increase their funding focus on international issues and causes, according to Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) 2010 Philanthropy Agenda.
In the end, expanding to international giving programs benefit employees, communities and companies. It shows that the company responds to employee‟s philanthropic preferences, increases participation and creates the perfect opportunity to promote the expanded global campaign.
Challenges to Prepare for
1. Ensuring Equality and Equivalency amongst all Programs and Nonprofits
Over the past decade, many of the CSR programs (which are now considered to be fairly mature) were built within the headquarters home country, and most often times, focused on that market. For countries such as the United States, the use of the 501(c)3 classification system became the cornerstone for evaluating the total number of non-profits eligible for participation, the types of giving that would be made available, what support would be reciprocated, and how an employee could engage.
As the program extends beyond the U.S. borders, finding balance (and equality) amongst all employees becomes ever so challenging, as companies are now needing to understand three important elements:
1) The international vetting requirements and 501(c)3 equivalency for each country.
2) Flow of funds from payroll systems, global cost centers, banking locations, etc.
3) The overall investment necessary to replicate the U.S. model and align with employee usage.
2. Vetting Organizations in Other Countries
An organization‟s liability for charitable giving took a strong precautionary turn after the events of September 11th –when congress implemented the Executive Order 13224 and USA Patriot Act to prohibit financial transactions affiliated with terrorism. Today, companies are responsible for verifying that grantee organizations do not appear on any terrorist watch list, for both domestic and international organizations. Companies face the challenge of evaluating each nonprofit, which has resulted in a demand for efficiencies in vetting organizations at high volume.
For international organizations, the non-profit organization, GlobalGiving, emerged as the global leader in due diligence, ensuring that all international nonprofits are in full compliance after passing security policies and a three-stage document review. A few key points to remember:
1) Consult the legal team to gain a full understanding of the organizations vetting requirements.Understand the differences between 501(c)3 vs. international organizations.
2) Gain a full understanding of the organizations acceptance of donor advised funds.What requirements are in place and what actions must be taken?
3) Synchronize the budget of your program with the vision of your global reach (how many
international organizations will need to be vetting) and the timing and upkeep of your vetting
requirements. Vetting can become expensive, so planning is key.
3. Data Security and Personal Information
Not all countries have data security and handling requirements similar to the U.S. Therefore, data capture, display, handling, and reporting of employee information must adhere to the local requirements set forth by an organization‟s internal data security team. The differences in requirements between countries will impact any global program from the way employees access a system, to how collaboration and sharing take place, including how all reporting and tracking can be performed. Typically, the inherent restrictions of a global program can delay a rollout. Thus, the following items are important to keep in mind:
1) Involve the global security team as soon as possible. Clearly understand all security
restrictions and requirements currently in place and how all programs are in compliance.
2) Obtain all program ideas and have it reviewed by the legal team before executing any plans.This should include all communications, reporting, vetting, and feature plans for the program.
3) Include the technical team handling the employee HR file into your plans as soon as possible.Often times, global programs require internal technical teams to collaborate to produce the required HR files.
4. Cultural Differences
Cultural and language differences raise challenges for multinational companies wanting to create meaningful global community involvement programs. Therefore, a company should consider structuring a global team to handle global responsibilities, but also, incorporate regional administrators as experts on a given region/country/environment. Simply put, “think globally, act locally.” Consider giving regional administrators autonomy in managing the activities that fit their specific social norms. The challenge of efficiently centralizing a multi-lingual global program, while maintaining flexibility to give regional offices autonomy is not insignificant.
Some key points to remember:
1) The U.S. non-profit structure (501c3) is not present internationally, so the options available outside the U.S. will be far less. Communicating this to employees is essential.
2) Empower your regional/local leads to submit a listing of the „preferred organizations‟ for their region and use this information as a foundation for your international giving and volunteering capabilities.
3) Seek out and fully understand which U.S. based non-profits are supporting international
causes.You can compliment your internationally vetted organizations with domestic 501(c)3
organizations to help achieve the same objectives –faster and less expensively.
5. Listen and Most Importantly, Respond
The rollout of a company-wide (and supported) international program may be a new concept to many. Some are sure to embrace it; others may very well dismiss it. For those that embrace it, a high level of activity, participation and excitement usually follows because the expansive program naturally offers more options. Often, these excited employees will be your best resource for guiding the future direction of your program, offering suggestions, input, criticisms, and guidance on the items they are most interested in seeing.
As you gather this input, here are a few key items to keep in mind:
1) Provide a method for employees to submit their ideas and suggestions. This could be for a new charity, a new idea, a language change, etc. Something as simple as an email box that is actually responded to goes a long ways.
2) Not everybody needs to receive a rapid response to their email inquire, but not receiving a
response at all is the best way to lose an engaged employee. Acknowledgement of an
inquiry is key, beyond any auto-responses in place.
3) Let the program users know that you are listening. Communicate the feedback you are
receiving back to all employees, completing the communication loop. Remember, all users
are the best resource for program vision and direction