Running a United Way campaign is your opportunity to make an incredible impact in your community. By inspiring giving throughout your organization, you are fueling the fight for the health, education, and financial stability of all central Iowans. Plus, you can engage your co-workers in feeling a sense of purpose and fun at work, which can boost their productivity and commitment to the job.

But how do you actually inspire your coworkers to give to United Way?

Here are 10 tips from central Iowa companies that boosted their campaign giving by more than 10 percent in the 2018 United Way campaign:

1. Engage employees all yearreading with kid

Many companies run a United Way campaign for a just a week or two once a year. Companies with successful campaigns also find ways to keep employees engaged in the issues year-round.

Athene, for example, hosts eight events throughout the year, including a Stuff the Bus book drive that gathers more than 15,000 books for local kids and a backpack drive to collect supplies for students in need at nearby schools. Year-round activity promotes a company culture of giving back that encourages greater donations during campaign.

2. Incorporate leadership into activities

Kum & Go leaders speak during the campaign about why giving to United Way of Central Iowa is critical to the success of all central Iowans, and the foundation provides a 1:1 match on employee pledges. Delta Dental’s campaign leader established a friendly competition to beat the previous leader in total contributions raised.

Last year, Athene saw a chance to grow its campaign by more than 25%. By leadership setting this stretch goal, employees were inspired to give more, achieving a 91% participation rate. Many companies set more than a giving goal, often setting a participation goal. Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines (FHLB Des Moines), for example, strived to increase employee participation in its campaign by 8% this past year.

3. Include people throughout the company

Many companies with successful campaigns have a representative from every department on the campaign committee. Those committee members can share information back to their departments and inspire their teams to give.

Companies with a public reach have found creative ways to use the campaign to raise awareness of their commitment to United Way. Kum & Go, for example, lets employees wear LIVE UNITED T-shirts, and the campaign committee provides an hour of extra help at stores that meet a giving goal. Prairie Meadows has a LIVE UNITED day each month where employees can wear LIVE UNITED T-shirts and discuss with guests and other employees what it means to them to support the organization.

SHAZAM builds broad participation by asking board members and retirees to make a pledge. To kick off campaign week, the committee leaves a pledge form, calendar of events, and candy on each employee’s desk.

campaign breakfast4. Let United Way help

United Way of Central Iowa representatives are available to speak with employees on why their gift matters at events. We also offer a robust toolkit with emails, videos, blogs, social media posts, and more that can help employees understand the value of their gift. FHLB Des Moines used the toolkit to send daily communications during campaign week and to provide information about United Way on its intranet, which was especially helpful for employees who work remotely.

5. Showcase mission and impact

Companies who run successful campaigns focus on how donations impact the community. FHLB Des Moines, for example, has a different focus each day with nonprofit speakers, volunteer opportunities, tours, and simulations to help employees understand the issues and feel connected to the work. Kum & Go provides similar opportunities, and this year, the committee hosted an encouragement campaign to write cards for children struggling with mental health, health, and homelessness issues.

6. Offer incentives to participate

Many companies get creative in offering incentives for giving, such as time off, VIP parking spaces, and drawings for prizes. Prairie Meadows offers six tiers of benefits based on how much an employee gives. Many also focus on incentives for all employees if the organization meets its goals. Delta Dental offered 4 hours of PTO for 90 percent employee participation and 8 hours for 95 percent participation. The company achieved 98 percent participation!

7. Increase leadership giving

Leadership giving (employees who donate $1,000 or more) makes up a significant part of most campaigns. As a result, many companies set goals for increasing leadership giving and host special events for potential leadership donors. SHAZAM hosts a cocktail hour at Des Moines Golf and Country Club and an affinity group breakfast-and-learn session, which gained them 40 new members in last year’s campaign. Prairie Meadows hosts a special leadership luncheon where it announces its campaign results.

8. Make it fun!Campaign clifford

Athene’s week-long campaign focused on the theme “Make a Difference,” featuring game-show inspired events that also highlighted the impact of giving. At the final event, a Showcase Showdown, campaign chairs dressed up as “Price is Right” characters and showed a fun video on employee incentives for running a successful campaign. SHAZAM hosts a variety of events, including a raffle, tailgate, lawn game launch, and cube decorating contest, and Delta Dental has a competition among all officers to test their brains and their athletic abilities.

9. Thank those who gave

We provide a thank you email you can customize and forward to all employees, as well as a video featuring funded partners talking about the importance of their United Way funding. In addition, many companies host appreciation lunches for those who worked on the campaign, for leadership givers, or for all employees to celebrate a successful campaign.

10. Make it about more than just dollars

A lot of companies focus their United Way campaigns on more than just giving. Day of Action in September provides volunteer opportunities to read with kids, donate alarm clocks, or work with nonprofits on a variety of projects. Many companies also have committees that encourage volunteering and giving. These efforts show it’s not just about a one-time gift, but about living with compassion for the people in our community.

Get started on your campaign

Let United Way help you put together a successful campaign. Visit our toolkit for communications materials you can customize, and reach out to your relationship manager at United Way to provide support.

Campaign Toolkit

Julie Matternas

Written by Julie Matternas

Julie Matternas is the former Corporate Engagement Officer for United Way of Central Iowa.