Workplace Giving Fosters Hope, Resilience, and Connection

Summary Lede

A multinational pharmaceutical company took a fresh approach to engaging their workforce in their company-wide giving program during the Covid-19 pandemic. Their initiative—which focused on cultivating a sense of impact, connection, and choice—grew participation by 49% and gave employees a sense of hope during a challenging time.


According to America’s Charities donor research, 71% of surveyed employees say it is imperative or very important to work where culture is supportive of giving and volunteering. 

This company, with production facilities and offices in countries across the globe, has supported an employee giving program in their North American headquarters location for many years. True to the heart of their brand and history, the focus of the program is to involve all of their employees in caring for others.

Given their longstanding history of championing a healthy economy, environment, and society, it is no surprise that the leadership team organized quickly to respond to the coronavirus. Their employee giving program became a way to channel employee distraction and distress into something actionable and positive. The team rapidly expanded efforts and made it possible for employees to donate—and amplify the impact of their generosity—where it mattered to them most.

Supercharge Participation

In 2019, this company switched giving platforms. They selected WeSpire to provide a more integrated approach to workplace giving initiatives. After their launch last fall, they saw an immediate 11% uptick in employee giving across the company. In the months that followed the initial launch, they grew participation by an additional 49%. 

 “WeSpire has enabled huge strides for our employee engagement; so much more than I had anticipated when we first launched,” said their senior associate of social impact project management. The WeSpire platform also allows them to run incentives-based volunteering invitations that have a matching gift component—for every 25 hours logged, employees receive $250 to donate—as well as the company’s work to involve and educate employees in company sustainability practices.

The coronavirus and economic crises created an urgent, unprecedented need for the company to reimagine employee engagement. WeSpire research finds that, while only 40 percent of companies offer workplace giving programs, employee giving has the highest participation rate relative to other engagement programs. 

While employees could choose from over one million charities, originally the match applied to a subset that were aligned with the companies impact strategy. During the pandemic, the company broadened ways to give, while maintaining focus to channel funds. Originally, the emphasis was on food-based charities in the U.S.  Following George Floyd’s death, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Racial Justice Fund was added as well.

“It was very important for our employees to give where it meant something to them. It was where their hearts were. It wasn’t just being part of what’s important to the organization, it was about society and what society needed at that time,” explained their senior associate for impact program management.

Outcomes & Impact

Team & Location Specific Efforts

The platform allowed the program administrators to manage community activity based on employee location or create opportunities for teams to give or volunteer together. Whether they are based in the office or out in the field, employees were able to find, participate and give to programs that were meaningful to them at both a local and national level.

“We really wanted to do something in the community, local to us. We had such a great turn-out that we ended up hosting a second round. Our people really want to help, so it’s our job to let them know about the ways they can.”

Expanding Workplace Giving Opportunities Easily

In addition to donations, they worked to eliminate obstacles and reimagine serving others during a time of social distancing. They used the platform to encourage employees to coordinate a 5K for charity, to organize a drive-by food bank donation drive, and to make their personal volunteer efforts visible to their colleagues and teams by logging additional activities on the platform.

This kind of philanthropy plays a critical role in solving local challenges, particularly in disaster response. 

Truly Extraordinary Results

The reimagining of this pharmaceutical company’s employee engagement program was a great success. Rewarding staff members for volunteering, matching charitable donations and educating workers on sustainability practices enabled a 49% group participation rate. High-impact thinking — combined with the WeSpire platform — connected people to people, giving to the needy and instilled hope amongst a workforce in the middle of a pandemic.

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