Employee Giving vs. __________


Have competing campaigns? Welcome to the club.

Chances are your hospital or university's own employee giving campaign isn’t the only one happening within the walls of your organization. In fact, if you’re like most of us - seemingly every month our hospital is flooded by yet another competing external fundraiser for any and every wonderful cause imaginable.

So with a little friendly philanthropic competition a reality, the natural question is how do you navigate the crowded waters?

When we launched our first employee giving campaign to benefit our hospital nearly ten years ago - we were the underdog. Like the underdog who showed up about 4 decades late to the party underdog. Our organization had (and still has!) a wonderful, successful annual campaign for a beloved community organization and seemingly dozens of smallish fundraisers happening in various capacities throughout the year. So from the outset, we knew we had to create a campaign experience that would bring something different - and speaking candidly - having competition only made us create something better.

As you consider how your campaign will cohabitate with others at your organization; here’s five tips to set your efforts apart and bring long-term success.

Campaigns don’t have to compete, they can complement.

From the onset, look at your approach as an opportunity to differentiate your missions - not compete.

The other organizations campaigning at your organization are likely causes that live or operate outside of your organization. They might roll up to the national level or provide community relief, etc. This means your internally focused employee campaign addresses something different: the hyper-localized needs and opportunities within your hospital/programs - a natural complement to the external campaign’s mission.

From the outset, the mission of these two campaigns are completely different. So lean into what makes your campaign different. Elevate your secret sauce so to speak! Your campaign’s ability to show you can make an impact right in front of the very people you are seeking to engage is going to be one of the strongest and easiest differentiators. So find your unique aspects and build from there.

Cultivate an abundance mindset

I’m a firm believer in the abundance mindset for philanthropy (and other areas of life for that matter!) Simply put - there’s enough to go around. And when you start from that common belief you will build your employee giving approach in a competitive landscape not from a fear of philanthropy scarcity but one of greater good.

"An abundance mentality springs from internal security, not from external rankings, comparisons, opinions, possessions, or associations.”- Stephen Covey

Don’t hear me wrong here - I’m not getting all mystical and saying you don’t have to do the work or that abundance will flow freely to you with this belief. I’m simply saying don’t write the ending to your campaign’s story from the beginning just because you know you are walking into a crowded space of competing messages.

Remember the long game is the end game.

We talk often about keeping your employee giving focused on a much bigger aim than simply participation, dollars or some other fleeting metric. In the end, your employee giving campaign holds the power to cultivate employee donors who believe in philanthropy at your organization - and that is the greater reward at stake. This direction aligns your strategies on a longer-term, bigger narrative. (More on that here.)

Playing the long game begins with how you design your campaign. This is an opportunity to set the tone for the culture of philanthropy at your organization. To deliver on this well, consider how your campaign can foster belief in philanthropy at your organization. Does your campaign have the elements in place to provide a best in class donor experience? Are you following through on showing impact and appreciation? Is your campaign building stronger relationships between employees and your foundation or is it doing the opposite?

Make it about passion.

This is an easy win - since the employees you will be soliciting have already chosen their career field - often times years or decades in the works. The work they do is very likely aligned with a personal, deep-seated passion. And for those who aren’t personally passionate - it’s easy to get connected because we all have friends or family members who are impacted by our organizations. Tapping into a passion is key, and something we have as a huge advantage of when talking to our own employees - so we should certainly lean into it!

Be committed to stewardship and impact.

Arguably the most important way we have fostered the 10x growth of employee giving at our healthcare system is simply by being diligent in showing gratitude and showing impact.

Since you already have an opportunity to set your campaign apart because of how close the donor can be to their impact through impacting people, equipment, projects within the walls of your organization - you have a very unique opportunity to show donors their impact first-hand. If you think about it, nearly all charitable causes we support are separated by many layers or miles of distance from where our gift’s impact resides. Aim to make your impact so close that donors can see - and experience their impact. I promise - it will be game changing.

When defining your stewardship plan - you have an opportunity to display personal gratitude and appreciation from the very faces they know - which will foster building the interconnectedness and culture of philanthropy of which we all aspire. Therein lies the incredible opportunity that you don’t want to miss.

When you get stewardship and impact right - you will have employee donors who keep coming back year after year.

In Closing

What are ways you set your campaign apart in a crowded space of competing messages? I’d love to hear from you! Jump into the conversation in the comments below!


Jonathan McCoy, CFRE is Director of Annual Giving at INTEGRIS Foundation and Founder and Chief Visionary of We are for Good. {Read more] [Email Jon]