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Corporate giving and volunteerism programs have never been more important than they are today. It’s clear that employees and consumers want to support companies that demonstrate strong moral values. 

When it comes to building and growing an effective corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, having the right tools in place is crucial. 

The right CSR software can help you maximize your efforts, increase engagement, track volunteer hours, and elevate positive brand awareness. But making the wrong choice could waste time and resources. 

Luckily, there are a number of platforms to choose from  — Benevity, YourCause, and CyberGrants, to name a few.

Whether your enterprise already has software implemented or is still shopping for the right fit, utilize this checklist when vetting your CSR vendor.

Is this platform flexible enough to meet the unique needs of the organization?

No two corporate CSR programs are the same, and you’ll need a software solution that’s capable of meeting the unique needs of your organization. 

Look for platform options that allow for customization, such as the ability to incorporate key brand elements and communicate with employees in a way that aligns with your messaging.

During an ESG & CSR Board panel on employee engagement, Alyse Perkowitz, Manager of Community Affairs at Discover Financial Services, shared how the team leverages Benevity to advance their program.

Alyse shared how they’ve worked to incorporate their needs into the platform, specifically by utilizing the custom questions feature, which she said Benevity has expanded upon. 

Furthermore, you’ll want to find a solution that’s flexible enough to grow with your team as you add new goals, campaigns, and volunteer opportunities.

How will this platform help advance volunteerism and giving?

The right CSR platform should make volunteerism and giving easier for your enterprise. It’s important to ask some key questions, such as:

    • Does this solution provide access to a wide range of nonprofit partners? 
    • How will it allow me to manage volunteer opportunities?
    • How can employees log and track volunteer hours?
    • What do the donation and matching features look like?

Alyse shared how her team also works with Benevity’s missions and volunteer match programs, which has helped advance their volunteer hours and participation. The team also offers employee grants for volunteer participation through the Benevity platform. 

Tessa Anderson, Senior Manager of Employee Community Engagement at Charles Schwab, also shared how they use Benevity to post volunteer opportunities and track registrations. Through the platform, they’re able to automatically track volunteer hours, which has proven valuable for their reporting.

Will this platform allow you to find and vet nonprofit groups?

It’s essential that your giving platform enables you to source and vet nonprofit organizations that align with your program’s mission and values. 

Karem Perez, Executive Director of the Motorola Solutions Foundation, shared how they leverage NGO Source and TechSoup to better vet their partners.

During an ESG & CSR Board panel on advancing corporate philanthropy, Karem said these tools have helped manage their global grants because the criteria to be considered a nonprofit organization in the U.S. differs from other countries.

She said, “NGO Source and TechSoup essentially is our third-party partner that helps to vet those organizations internally and assesses whether they should receive an equivalency determination letter, which essentially says this is an organization that, were they were based in the U.S., the IRS would consider them a charitable organization.” 

Additionally, Karem said certain tools will enable you to build screenings into your program, such as whether an organization is on a government sanction list or could be considered a hate group.

“These are some of the tools we rely upon to make sure that we’re not inadvertently granting to organizations that are unsavory or not aligned to our values,” she said. 

Does this platform bring value across the enterprise? 

Of course, you’ll want a software that helps further your corporate philanthropy program, but it’s important to find a solution that can add value to the enterprise as a whole. 

Leslie Parpart, Director of Community Relations at CarMax, also shared how the team leverages the data visualization platform, Tableau. 

She said it’s been a crucial tool that has allowed the CSR team to produce reports for key stakeholders that mirror their own business reports, helping to improve communication. 

Leslie said, “That’s been a game changer for us to be able to not only track the data in our system … but then turn it into actionable reports.” 

Reporting capabilities are key to illustrating and understanding how your program is performing. You’ll want a CSR platform that offers a comprehensive reporting feature so you can access detailed data and get closer to your goals.

Is this platform user-friendly? 

When it comes to improving employee engagement, it’s critical that you’ve selected a CSR platform that is easy to use — employees will not want to use a program that’s difficult and clunky. 

The software should be intuitive, so you don’t have to waste precious time on employee training and troubleshooting. On top of ease of use, the platform should be accessible — many employees might prefer a mobile app version. 

In the event that you do run into issues, it’s key that the software company offers quick response times and services. It may be helpful to ask how many individuals work on the client support team and if there are online resources available to share best practices. 

What do other clients think of this platform?

When shopping for any vendor, navigating sales pitches can be a challenge. First, be sure to ask the software vendor what their client retention rate is. 

Still, you can’t undermine the value of actually benchmarking with other CSR leaders at similar companies. The ESG & CSR Board is completely confidential and vendor-free — meaning it’s only open to senior social impact, sustainability, and ESG leaders at large companies.

ESG & CSR Board Chair Paul Pellizzari, Vice President of Global Social Responsibility at Hard Rock International spoke on this benefit during the panel discussion. 

They recently brought on Benevity, and Paul said the confidential conversations in the ESG & CSR board helped them accelerate their research and decision-making.

“The ESG & CSR Board was critical in us doing the research on different platforms that were available,” he said.


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