I must admit that I was a little nervous when we launched our annual employee giving campaign in October – on the heels of the economic turmoil across the globe. With the uncertainty that people were feeling about the volatile stock market, I thought: how do we communicate to employees that now is the time for them to dig deep into their pockets and donate money to their favorite charities? But I then reflected on an article I read referencing the Giving Institute Foundation’s posture that giving during an economic slowdown is not affected as we may think—that giving still grows, but slowly. Feeling inspired by this, of course we moved forward communicating to employees about the annual giving campaign and our goal to raise $1.5 million for charities across the U.S. Through our charitable arm of the company, the ING Foundation, we would match employee contributions dollar for dollar up to $5,000 per employee for a maximum match of $1 million. So how did we do? Before I go there, let me first explain what we did. One of our senior executives served as a champion of the campaign, communicating to employees through e-mails and videos our goal and offering them perspective about giving—that now IS the time to empower people in our communities who need our support more than ever. We established campaign committees at each of our locations who came up with some pretty neat ideas to educate employees about the great work nonprofits in their communities are doing to help others and to raise money for specific charities. As an example, Karaoke Night and ING’s Got Talent were among the favorite activities for employees. Employee engagement during this time was tremendous. Through constant communication, we kept employees informed about reaching our goal, and employees who donated at least 1% of their salary received a paid day off. I’m proud to say that we surpassed our $1.5 million goal by $8,400. With the match from the ING Foundation, our total giving is over $2.5 million. What this says to me is that our employees feel a sense of connection to their communities, and this is proof that the culture of giving I always tell people we have – we really do.
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