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Business Journal
Workplace Fundraisers: Do They Pressure Employees to Give?
Business Journal

Workplace Fundraisers: Do They Pressure Employees to Give?

by Daniela Yu and Amy Adkins
Chart: data points are described in article

Story Highlights

  • Most employees feel little or no pressure to donate money
  • Employees want donating money to be easy
  • Donating at the workplace boosts employee well-being

This article is the third in a three-part series on charitable donations.

From occasional bake sales to weeklong giving campaigns, fundraisers are common occurrences in U.S. workplaces.

According to America's Charities, approximately $4 billion is raised annually through workplace giving. Though some employees feel pressure to donate, Gallup's analysis found that about eight in 10 employees (79%) feel little to no pressure to donate money at workplace fundraisers.

Most Employees Feel Little or No Pressure to Donate at Their Workplace
"Which of the following best describes your experience with fundraisers at your workplace?"
There is too much pressure to donate money at workplace fundraisers. 21%
There is little pressure to donate money at workplace fundraisers. 38%
There is no pressure to donate money at workplace fundraisers. 41%
Gallup Panel, Dec 2-16, 2015

Mission Is Most Important to Donors

Few employees feel pressured by workplace fundraisers, perhaps because their motivations for donating to them have little to do with their employers. Gallup's analysis found that just 13% of U.S. donors contribute money because they feel obligated to give -- their charitable giving tends to come from more intrinsic motivations. External forces, including their employers, have little sway.

By far, people choose to give to a charity because they believe in its cause. Eight in 10 individuals (81%) say an organization's mission is a major reason for their decision to donate. More than half also say their desire to make a difference (57%) or to do the right thing (54%) are major reasons for their giving decisions. Comparatively, "someone in my professional life asks me to donate" (10%) and "my employer supports the organization" (4%) are among the least influential reasons for giving.

Mission Matters Most in Donation Decisions
"Please indicate whether each of the following is a major reason, a minor reason or not a reason why you donate money to a charitable organization."
Major reason
I believe in the mission of the organization. 81
I want to make a difference. 57
It is the right thing to do. 54
The charitable organization supports someone in my life. 48
Someone in my personal life asks me to donate. 43
I see a personal story of someone that the organization is helping and I want to help too. 20
I feel obligated to give. 13
Someone in my professional life asks me to donate. 10
Charitable donations are tax-deductible. 8
My employer supports the organization. 4
Gallup Panel, Dec 2-16, 2015

Giving Boosts Well-Being

Most employees don't feel pressure to donate money at work. In fact, Gallup data suggest they're highly inclined to do so. One study shows that people in workgroups with the highest levels of engagement with their employer were more likely to donate -- and they donated 2.6 times more money than did people in less engaged teams. Nearly eight in 10 employees (78%) say they are somewhat or very likely to donate to a workplace fundraiser, and about two-thirds of employees (67%) say they are somewhat or very likely to donate money if their company makes it easy to do so.

These findings suggest that employees are more likely to donate money at work if it's convenient for them. To encourage employees to participate in workplace giving programs, charitable organizations and employers need to find ways to make the giving process seamless.

When employees give money, they not only help a cause -- they also help themselves. People receive a greater boost to their well-being when they donate money than they do when they buy things for themselves. Neuroscientists have discovered that the act of giving money sets off activity in specific regions of the brain that heightens the sense of reward and encourages people to repeat the behavior. Studies have also linked charitable acts to longer life, perhaps because people who continuously give experience less stress and negativity.

Companies Must Carefully Choose the Charities They Support

Charitable organizations successfully engage their donors by having a clear purpose and solid reputation and by building trust and transparency. That engagement could translate into higher participation in workplace fundraisers. When donors are engaged with a charitable organization, they want to give money and do not feel pressured to do so. In contrast, when donors are not engaged, their giving feels like an obligation rather than a choice.

When choosing organizations to support through fundraisers and other charitable acts, companies should look carefully for those that have a strong and positive organizational identity and successfully engage their donors. Though employees do not necessarily feel pressured by workplace fundraisers, they are more likely to contribute if they believe their money supports a powerful mission.

Survey Methods

Results are based on a Gallup Panel web study of 17,174 U.S. adults who have donated to a charitable organization in the past 12 months, aged 18 and older, conducted Dec. 2-16, 2015. The Gallup Panel is not an opt-in panel, and panel members do not receive incentives for participating. For results based on this sample, one can say that the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level. Margins of error are higher for subsamples. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Learn more about how the Gallup Panel works.

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