The W. Alexander Gerbode Foundation funded this study of employee attitudes about charitable fundraising and giving in the workplace by the Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management at the University of San Francisco. This study is significant for several reasons. First, while the overall charitable behavior of Americans has been documented in several recent national surveys, the changing workplace fundraising scene remains largely unexplored. Second, the San Francisco Bay Area is an ideal laboratory for a study of workplace giving that analyzes ethnic differences along with other variables related to charitable attitudes and behavior since the Bay Area has some of the fastest growing minority populations in the country. The Asian population increased 45% between 1980 to 1985, while the number of Blacks increased by 11% and Hispanics by 20% during the same time period.
"California led the nation in minority population growth during the first half of the decade and is now home to one-third of all Hispanics and Asians in the United States, new federal estimates show ... (McLeod, 1989, pg A2)."
Third, annual workplace fundraising campaigns conducted by local charities reach and affect millions of Americans each year. While these campaigns create ideal opportunities for local charities to educate donors and elicit funds for the community, they also shape peoples' attitudes about charity as well. This research looks at workplace campaigns through the employee's eyes and analyzes both the positive and negative impact of workplace fundraising. By looking squarely at the workplace campaign from this perspective, it is possible to address a broad range of issues of interest to employees, campaign managers, department heads, and CEO's alike.
Historically, workplace campaigns have been conducted by local chapters of the United Way of America for the benefit of local member organizations. Increasingly, however, the traditional United Way workplace campaign is being challenged by alternative charitable federations and independent funds seeking access to potential donors in private and public workplaces.
As nonprofit organizations of all types and sizes have re-vitalized their public fundraising efforts in response to a decade of government cutbacks, workplace fundraising has become a more competitive and aggressive enterprise. Since charities can reach potential donors during workplace campaigns and payroll deduction has been documented as a popular donation vehicle among donors, many charitable groups and federations, in addition to United Way, see the workplace as a major fundraising arena.
United Way workplace campaigns alone raise over $2 billion annually. The cost of payroll deduction fundraising is low, employers encourage participation, and employees have been shown to make a larger donation when contributions are deducted from their pay. Thus, competition between United Way and various alternative funds will continue to be a major issue in philanthropy and nonprofit management since workplace campaigns represent a potentially, lucrative source of revenue.
While there is substantial controversy relating to workplace fundraising, there is no systematic information on employee's perceptions of workplace fundraising campaigns. The goal of this research is to outline employee attitudes about workplace giving, motivations for giving, preferences in allocations, and the level of giving; further, the study explores the demographic dimensions of these variables. Drawing on questions developed in earlier philanthropic studies and cognizant of the debate over the nature of open campaigns (United Way and other charities) and closed (exclusively United Way) workplace campaigns, this research explores the characteristics and behavior of workplace campaign donors in both types of campaigns. The project was also designed to expand our general understanding of why employees do not donate to the annual workplace campaign and what changes in strategies might produce more effective workplace campaigns, regardless of the setting or number of charitable options.
The four major research questions which guided this research and structured the analysis can be summarized as follows:
1. What is the overall charitable behavior of employees in the sample?
2. What factors influence giving through the workplace campaign?
3. What are the similarities and differences in workplace giving in the public and private sectors?
4. What are the characteristics and attitudes of non-donors?
Employees in both public, municipal and private, corporate organizations were asked a series of questions about their motivations for giving or lack of giving, their attitudes toward charitable giving, and their giving behavior during the charitable workplace campaign recently completed in their workplace (1988).
The survey consisted of a two-page self-administered questionnaire which was mailed to a total of 2,500 employees in the San Francisco Bay Area. Five worksites were selected on the basis of location and willingness to participate; five hundred employees at each worksite were then randomly selected to receive the questionnaire. There were two municipal governments and three large corporate worksites - - one large bank, a wholesale distributor, and a supermarket chain. Of the original 2,500 questionnaires, 548 were returned for a 22% response rate. Over half of the responses, 61.5%, came from the private sector while 38.5% of the public sector employees completed the survey. The response rate varied dramatically between worksites, ranging between 41% and 13% at the private worksites, and 25% and 16% at the two public worksites.
Witty, C.J. and Urla, J. (1989). Workplace giving: employee attitudes, perceptions and behavior. Working paper (University of San Francisco. Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management); no. 9. San Francisco, CA: Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management, College of Professional Studies, University of San Francisco.
Findings Compiled by Cathie J. Witty, Ph.D.
Data Analysis by Jacqueline Urla, Ph.D. and Cathie J. Witty, Ph.D.
Funded by the w. Alexander Gerbode Foundation