By Gretel Bakker and Marcus de Courtenay

As the end of another extraordinary and disrupted year draws closer, many of us are thinking about ways we can give back this festive season. For those who have been fortunate enough to have ongoing work through the pandemic, we are feeling deeply for those who haven’t. We have also seen the ways in which the pandemic has wrought havoc in parts of the world where health care is less accessible or well resourced. We want to help. But how do we do this not only astutely, but meaningfully?

Why we Give

From what we understand about the psychology of giving, people are motivated by two reasons: empathy and reciprocity.

Our empathy directs us to try and help alleviate the suffering of others, and we are also socially enculturated into the idea of giving as a mutually beneficial act. In other words, giving promotes cooperation and social connection, which is partially motivated by a sense that at some time in the future our generosity might be rewarded.

Research shows that socially reciprocal behaviour can have quantifiably positive outcomes for physical and mental health. By giving, we are not only helping someone else, but we are improving the quality of our own lives.


How we Give

Now though, with so many causes worthy of our attention, it can be difficult to navigate and coordinate organisation (or even team) wide giving and charitable programs. Often, we don’t know where to go and how to give meaningfully.

Large scale volunteering programs can be organisationally unwieldy and may require skills or certifications, which are not easily obtainable. As leaders we have an opportunity to encourage this capacity in our teams and organisations, and connect it with our purpose as an organisation, if we are mindful, intentional, and do our homework.

The most common forms of organisational giving are:

  • Donation drives – Donation drives involve fundraising programs for cash or goods to give to charitable organisations.
  • Donation matching – Donating matching is the practice of organisations giving dollar-to-dollar to charities which their employees have given to. Major organisations such as Disney and Apple have employee matching programs of 10,000 USD or more per calendar year.
  • Volunteering programs or leave – Volunteering programs facilitate employees volunteering for charitable organisations often during work hours.
  • Pro bono work – Pro bono work is work completed for free often within an organisation’s specialist area for individuals or enterprises who are unable to afford normal rates.
Enhancing our Giving

So, as we begin to plan how we might give back this year, here are some ways we can enhance our philanthropic practice:

Connect the giving program to our purpose as an organisation
Being purpose-led means seeing all our actions as arising from a unified vision. Examples such as Microsoft’s “Hack for Good” program demonstrate how the more that the cause is connected to our work, the more we feel invested.

What is the contribution that your specialisation can have? What is the vision and purpose for your organisation, which connects each of you as individuals? Harness this energy in your practice of generosity this year.

Turn the giving program into a team exercise or game
We can build a sense of joy into our giving by introducing playfulness. We are naturally playful as humans and thrive in situations where this aspect of our self can be at the forefront.

Whether that is through forming teams or gamifying the program, inject fun to supercharge your program.

Activate the champions of giving
Human behaviour is driven by observation and mimicry. We are often inspired by others and even the idea of superheroes encourages us to be more giving.

Because of this, we know that key influencers are essential for energising any system. This applies equally, when it comes to driving pro-social altruism. Get the influencers on board first!

Food for Thought

Even with the best will in the world, we can encounter roadblocks to giving. So here are a few accessible charities that you may want to consider when it comes to spreading the love:

Share the Dignity
A fantastic charity working towards ridding the stigma attached to periods and making hygiene products accessible and free.

Give Well
Premised on the philosophy of Effective Altruism, ensuring charitable giving is the most effective it can possibly be, Give Well rigorously vets and recommends Top Charities around the world.

Coalition of Rainforest Nations
The Coalition of Rainforest Nations is a major multi-nation coalition which works to promote forest preservation and carbon sequestration in rainforest growth.

Random Acts of Kindness (RAKS)
Promoting the benefits of kindness in all our interactions and organisations, the team at RAKS have countless ideas for how we can be kind to those around us, as a way of life.

Pets in Crisis
This initiative by the RSPCA temporarily rehomes pets whose owners are being impacted by domestic violence situations.

TLC for Kids
Providing distraction, relief and emotional support to sick children including distraction boxes, ambulance visits, and rapid TLC response.

Check out their websites for all the ways you can possibly get involved.

Need More Help?

Keen to find out more about how your organisation can embrace purpose-led giving?  Performance Frontiers are experts in helping guide leaders to undertake mutually beneficial acts with their teams that promote cooperation and social connection.  Speak to Gretel today about how we can partner with you to encourage this capacity in your teams and organisations, and connect giving with your overarching mission, vision, values & purpose frameworks.

While every effort has been made to provide valuable, useful information in this publication, this organisation and any related suppliers or associated companies accept no responsibility or any form of liability from reliance upon or use of its contents. Any suggestions should be considered carefully within your own particular circumstances, as they are intended as general information only.

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