By Elizabeth Roscoe, Executive Director, Western Union Foundation
November 29, 2016, is #GivingTuesday, a day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. As a global movement, #GivingTuesday unites and engages nonprofits, civic organizations, businesses and corporations, as well as families and individuals around the world. Now in its fifth year, through the generosity of people around the world, #GivingTuesday helps bring about real change in local communities—providing a platform for the donation of time, resources and talent to help address local challenges.
Creating change through employee giving. I chose today to talk about employee giving as part of an overall corporate responsibility strategy, and the positive opportunities it can create for just about everyone involved. While there may be differences in how companies approach corporate responsibility, according to the 2016 edition of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) report, Giving in Numbers, companies with a true commitment to making society a better place can increase productivity by attracting, empowering, and retaining purpose-oriented employees.1 Furthermore, many people flat out value companies with a sense of purpose. According to the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer, 80 percent of the public believes businesses must lead to solve problems – meaning that a company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in communities where it operates.2
WU and the WU Foundation – a case of corporate responsibility. As I complete my first few months as Executive Director of the WU Foundation, I’m realizing how fortunate we all are because “moving money for better,” is part of the Western Union® narrative – embedded in the company’s DNA. And at the WU Foundation, part of our job through our charitable purpose and activities, is to help facilitate the WU corporate responsibility program and mission. One of the ways we do this is by engaging employees, providing them with opportunities to make a positive impact through donations to the Foundation and by volunteering their time to help those in need.
We’re in the midst of wrapping up our annual employee giving campaign, and I can honestly say, I am so proud of the people who enable the Foundation to do what we do – and that includes the many WU employees around the world who share a commitment and sense of responsibility for our global community. Giving back isn’t part of their daily jobs, but a part of their daily routines – taking that extra step to help people in their hometowns and beyond.
Employees share the same commitment. Last year, during our annual employee giving campaign, 80 percent of WU employees gave to the Foundation to support education and humanitarian relief programs – a number way above market standard (according to Giving in Numbers the median percentage of employees who participated in workplace giving campaigns was 32 percent). Many of these employees who give, also volunteer. Organizations like Junior Achievement, Save the Children and recently, several NGOs like Caritas that are working to support refugee communities in Europe and the Middle East, have all benefited from employee donations to the WU Foundation AND employee volunteer efforts.
WU employees like Jonny Ayers in Australia give to the Foundation because they feel a sense of responsibility to help those who are less fortunate. “The Foundation supports organizations that provide humanitarian relief for the World’s approximately 65 million refugees and displaced people. I am passionate about this cause and proud that we can help make a difference.” Maureen Sigliano in Paris echoes this sentiment saying, “As a global citizen, I feel a deep responsibility to help make our world a better place – for today and tomorrow.” And, Janice Williams in Toronto gives to the WU Foundation because she “knows she’s helping those in need – especially during times of crisis.”
Giving is part of a larger picture. For a corporate Foundation like ours, employee giving plays a key role in enabling our efforts to support education through our signature Education for Better program. And now, WU employee support is helping us do even more to serve global refugee populations by increasing access to education and job training, and strengthening communities affected by conflict and violence. An example of this is our recent Foundation three-year grant commitment to the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI) that will help provide access to education for more than 10,000 refugees in Uganda.
Employee giving can be powerful. It can create opportunities for employees, NGOs, businesses and those in need. But what’s even more powerful is the fact that employee giving and the motivation and drive to help change lives for the better isn’t just about an annual campaign or writing a check. To have long-term impact, employee giving and engagement should be part of a larger purpose – ingrained in an organization’s DNA. I believe this is the case with WU and the WU Foundation. And that is something that I am truly proud to be a part of.
1CECP, in association with The Conference Board. Giving in Numbers: 2016 Edition.
2Edelman. Edelman Trust Barometer Annual Global Study 2016.
The Western Union Foundation is a separate §501(c)(3) recognized United States non-profit corporation supported by the Western Union Company, its employees, Agents, and business partners working to support education and disaster relief efforts as pathways toward a better future.