Transforming Workplace Philanthropy
with Brian Gallagher of United Way Worldwide
Successful workplace-giving campaigns have been linked to increased employee satisfaction, retention and productivity.
Brian Gallagher, President and CEO of United Way Worldwide, discusses his organization’s efforts to transform corporate philanthropy and boost employee engagement.
May 03, 2019
Ellee Pai Hong: Each year, millions of employees get involved in workplace giving campaigns, resulting in billions of dollars contributed to charitable causes. Hello and welcome to Comcast Newsmakers. I'm Ellee Pai Hong. Workplace giving campaigns offer convenience, while helping to fund the work of nonprofit organizations. Brian Galley, President and CEO of United Way Worldwide joins me to discuss recent trends and the future of workplace philanthropy. Thank you so much for coming in, appreciate your time today.
Brian Gallagher: Good to be here, Ellee.
Ellee Pai Hong: I think one of the biggest trends that we're seeing in philanthropy is a use of technology to help in that philanthropy.
Brian Gallagher: Yup. Yup. Because individuals have access to all the information that only in the past institutions had. So it's important. If you watch go fund me pages and kind of Crowdsourcing, CrowdSharing technology, it's being driven by the fact that everybody's got access on their phone to all the information that we have. So, what's becoming important is for us, not just to take folks money, put it in a community chest, spend it, then tell them about it, but instead, bring the issues to them as individuals in workplaces. What do we do about homelessness or education or early childhood education? And let them be a part of the solution because the technology allows that to happen.
Ellee Pai Hong: Yeah. United Way is actually kind of the original Crowdfunder, right? This is what you guys do.
Brian Gallagher: Well, you know in the 1920s we created the first Crowdfunding, it was called the Community Chest. It's on the monopoly board. It was the idea that you pool your money, but we didn't have the technology for you then to spend it and send it directly to an NGO. So, a group of volunteers would spend it. So now, we're just taking the, the crowdfunding idea, the Community Chest idea, and kind of taking it and turning on its side and bringing all of our work into a workplace. And Salesforce has built a technology platform for us. It's called Philanthropy Cloud. It allows employees to get on that platform, develop their own profile, understand what the issues are in my community and my neighborhood, get their fellow employees and others involved in causes that they care about, give volunteer advocate on behalf of public policy. So yeah. It's the 1920s to 2020.
Ellee Pai Hong: Yeah. With this philanthropy, iCloud you developed it, actually launched it last June of 2018.
Brian Gallagher: That's right.
Ellee Pai Hong: How's it been going so far?
Brian Gallagher: It's going great. So, we have now hundreds of companies on it. We have over a hundred thousand donors using it. It sounds like a business, but there's a whole pipeline of adoption of companies. We work with 75,000 companies across the United States, and it's slowly migrating those companies from doing an annual one time a year workplace fundraising campaign to creating this platform that's 365 days, 24/ content on top. And so, the adoption of companies continues and our plan is to migrate all of the companies over to the cloud.
Ellee Pai Hong: And it really gives the employee a say in where that money goes, and they're more likely to participate because of it.
Brian Gallagher: Yeah. You know what's interesting is, that for the longest time people have had the ability in workplace campaigns, United Ways and others, to designate the nonprofit they care about, but my generation was more brand loyal, if you will. United Way, Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club. With this generation, the millennials coming in, the boomers going out in the workforce, is this generation is way more cause oriented. So, it allows them still to designate a nonprofit that they care most about, and it goes right to that nonprofit, but more importantly, if you care about the environment, if you care about homelessness, if you care about poverty alleviation, then you can get involved in that issue. You can give, you can volunteer, you can get your friends involved in it. And so, sometimes I think we overgeneralize with this generation that they want to follow their giving. Everybody's wanting to follow their giving, but what I think is true about this generation is way more cause oriented, and way more horizontal in terms of how they connect on things.
Ellee Pai Hong: And this generation really places a lot of importance on where they work and the values of where they work.
Brian Gallagher: That's right. This is now a business imperative for companies. That if you want to get and keep great people, then you have to be socially responsible.
Ellee Pai Hong: Actually, that's another trend that you're noticing, that giving is actually a value add to a company.
Brian Gallagher: It is. It is. I mean, the data's been around for a while, but it's really now compelling that folks will go to work for companies that are more socially responsible. They actually expect their CEO to take positions on social issues, and they will not work for companies that they don't think are socially.
Ellee Pai Hong: And you know what's interesting is that it actually increases worker productivity, giving.
Brian Gallagher: Well, if you think of any human, they want personal safety, they want a financial security, they want a sense of purpose, and they want emotional connection to community. And when you work in a workplace that cares, and you give and you connect with others, of course you're going to be more satisfied.
Ellee Pai Hong: You know, very off topic, the same topic, but a different question real quick is, in 2017 U.S. Companies gave 20.7 billion to charitable causes. That was up 8% from the previous years.
Brian Gallagher: Yeah.
Ellee Pai Hong: But 2018, there were a lot of worries going into it because of the 2017 tax cuts. A lot of people worrying that charitable giving was going to go down. What are the trends that you've been noticing?
Brian Gallagher: So, charitable giving has definitely been adversely affected by the tax bill. The latest data shows giving up about 1.5%, GDP is up almost 3%; therefore, real growth is down. It's the first time in 20 years that it's been down. More importantly, and this is what the concern we raised with Congress. It's the average knowner, the person who's giving $1,000 or less in the U.S., they're giving us down 4%. And so what's happening is the concentration of wealth in the country is being followed by the concentration of philanthropy. And it's great that wealthy people give to charity, but it's not good that fewer and fewer people are giving to charity in the U.S. We've got to turn that around because that's the glue that holds communities together.
Ellee Pai Hong: And hopefully the technology component will help drive that as well,.
Brian Gallagher: I think it will. The fact is, that's the way people consume now. That's the way they share information. We need to make it easy for people to get involved in their communities, and technology's a big part of it.
Ellee Pai Hong: And hopefully that will happen very soon. Thank you so much, Brian. Appreciate your time.
Brian Gallagher: You're welcome. Thanks, Ellee.
Ellee Pai Hong: And my guest today is Brian Gallagher with United Way Worldwide, and thank you for watching. For more great conversations with leaders in your area and across the nation, visit comcastnewsmakers.com.