Departments - September/October 2013

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An Innovative Approach
Program Helps Companies Enhance Corporate Giving

By Deborah L. Vence


The collaboration between United Way of Greater St. Louis and Maritz is continuing this year with a two-part, innovative incentive program that, over the past year, has boosted employee participation and increased the average corporate gift by 29 percent among hundreds of St. Louis companies.

The two companies are coming together for the third year in a row now to provide $150,000 in merchandise incentives and rule structure guidelines to the biggest and best campaigns in St. Louis to drive employee participation and campaign donations. Since 2011, the two firms have partnered on an innovative incentive program to help companies boost corporate giving. In fact, in 2012, this program helped United Way raise a total of $72 million.

"This new approach to corporate giving includes two parts: merchandise incentive packages for participating companies and the opportunity for campaign coordinators to participate in a Run-Through-the-Warehouse," said Mary Luckey, director of client rewards and global strategy, Maritz Motivation Solutions.

Luckey explained that, first, some United Way campaigns in the St. Louis region are chosen to receive merchandise incentive packages from Maritz.

"Companies choose how they wish to use the merchandise, such as exciting employees about giving to the United Way, encouraging participation, and increasing leadership giving. Previous merchandise provided to participating companies includes iPads, Bose speakers, Fuji digital cameras, Dyson vacuums, LG televisions and more," she said.

Second, a Run-Through-the-Warehouse (RTTW) offers St. Louis United Way Campaign Coordinator the opportunity to go on a free-for-all celebration party in Maritz' merchandise warehouse.

"Ten employee campaign coordinators from the region are selected to participate in a one-minute RTTW to grab as much merchandise as their cart will hold," Luckey explained. "The value of the merchandise is tallied and the runner gets to spend the earnings on rewards—right before the holidays. Some winners even choose to redeem for merchandise to use in the next year's campaign."

United Way of Greater St. Louis has more than 2,500 companies that run an employee workplace campaign across the region in Missouri and Illinois. Previous program participants include: Peabody Energy, Wells Fargo, Edward Jones, Centene and Emerson.

The incentive program came about after Maritz approached United Way of Greater St. Louis about the idea to apply sales incentive principles to the region's campaigns.

"They are the experts in incentives and have created a program that has helped us to raise an additional $2.4 million dollars in the first two years," said R.J. Crunk, senior vice president, resource development, United Way of Greater St. Louis.

"We wanted to help companies partnering with the United Way of Greater St. Louis boost their campaigns in a new and different way. This innovative approach to corporate giving helps local companies motivate and engage their employees in their corporate giving efforts," he said. "We are ecstatic to have the opportunity to continue to partner with Maritz on this program and learn from the best."

In July, Maritz trained 325 employee campaign coordinators (ECCs) on how to use incentives to boost their United Way campaigns. The rule structure also has been adjusted to reward the companies that are donating higher amounts with additional chances to win the Run-Through-the-Warehouse (RTTW) sweepstakes. The United Way campaign officially kicked off Sept. 3.

"This program has given United Way campaigns a new element of fun and excitement that they had not had in previous years. Employee campaign coordinators are happy to have this program to help them get employees engaged and excited about the program. Employees are motivated by the incentives and having the opportunity to win one of the great prizes," Crunk said.

Overall, the program has increased participation, levels of giving and raised the awareness in workplace campaigns about United Way.

"Participating companies determine how they want to apply the incentives to their workplace campaigns to motivate employees to donate," Crunk said.

"Wells Fargo has used the incentives to kick off their campaign, raising $2.2 million in the first five days with a '5 days, 5 prizes' raffle. Peabody Energy created a 'Path to Prizes for Pledging' game with the chance to win more prizes through early pledging. Peabody Energy saw a 15 percent increase in employee participation and exceeded their pledge goal by 17 percent in 2012. Other companies have used the merchandise incentives to draw employees to attend campaign events," he added.

The fact is that corporate giving is continuing to evolve, and the incentive program is offering a new way to help engage employees and encourage participation in charitable giving programs.

"This program has shown that sales incentives when applied to corporate giving are successful—boosting both energy and participation," Crunk said. "For the United Way of Greater St. Louis, this partnership has helped us learn how to create motivation and excitement surrounding our campaigns. Maritz has offered training for our employee campaign coordinators to help them understand how to apply the incentives to their workplace campaigns to best meet their corporate giving goals. In addition, United Way has also learned how to analyze the data and build on the program each year to continue to help our campaigns be more successful.

"The benefits are fairly simple from our perspective," Crunk added. "The more people that are engaged and excited leads to more dollars raised for our community and more people receiving the help they need in our region."