harvard pilgrim employee giving campaign

4 Keys to a Successful Virtual Fundraising Campaign

By Aaron Johnson, Program Specialist and Henocson (Henny) Mulatre, Manager, Service and Giving, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation on their 2020 employee giving campaign.

In April 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic, the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation launched its annual Employee Giving Campaign completely online for the first time, utilizing Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud. You’d think that requesting employee donations during a pandemic would cut down participation and total giving significantly, but it didn’t. Launching our first ever virtual campaign enabled us to keep our overall giving consistent with previous years and even increase our average gift amount by approximately 30%!

Typically, our annual employee giving campaign features several in-person events to build excitement around the campaign and provide opportunities for employees to engage beyond financial contributions. This has included group projects to pack kits that were donated to local agencies and having local nonprofits on site for employees to learn more about their missions and available volunteer opportunities. To supplement this entirely virtual format, we relied on carefully thought out communication, a dedicated support team, and the tools we had in place to make the campaign a success. Check out our four keys to a successful virtual giving campaign below!

Communication – A Fine Line

When it comes to internal communication around an annual campaign like this, there’s a fine line between grabbing attention and becoming spam. It’s important to be strategic about how often you communicate with your employees, as well as what channels you go through.

What has worked for us is to use multiple mediums for generating participation for our giving campaign; global emails to all employees, weekly blogs highlighting ways to give, and internal notices on company bulletins. Over our three-week campaign, we aimed for approximately two forms of outreach highlighting the campaign each week, with a focus on communicating around launch day as well as last call reminders on the final day of the campaign.

It’s also crucial to have messaging coming from leadership within your organization. Have a senior leader send out a call to action, or if they have a regular form of communication to employees, have them include a blurb about your campaign there.

Flexibility for Employees

Although the focus of our giving campaign is on our Employee Needs Fund, a successful campaign provides employees with a choice on where they would like their donations to go. Along with the United Way, we provide users with an open field to select a charity of their choice if they’d prefer. Having this option to support a cause of choice certainly helps increase overall engagement in the campaign.

Another way to provide employees with flexibility is to provide seamless payroll deductions for donations, either one-time deductions or continuous deductions, paycheck to paycheck. For any annual campaign, enabling employees to make donations straight from their paycheck is crucial to increasing participation.

A Dedicated Team to Troubleshoot

With any virtual fundraising campaign, there are bound to be questions and technical difficulties that need troubleshooting. The inevitability of these issues highlights the importance of having dedicated team members available throughout your campaign to quickly and effectively respond.

To get ahead of any technical difficulties, especially when launching a new platform that employees aren’t comfortable with, providing brief webinars or virtual office hours helps to efficiently introduce groups of employees to the new system. As always, supporting your colleagues with a helping hand and a smile goes a long way.

A Platform to Make it Flow

It goes without saying that having the infrastructure in place is crucial for having a seamless and successful campaign experience, both for administrators and employee participants. Philanthropy Cloud allowed us to have an easily accessible and simple process for employees to participate in the campaign, whether they wanted to donate to the United Way, our Employee Needs Fund, or a local charity of their choice.

Philanthropy Cloud also enabled our team to easily track and analyze data from our giving campaign, from average gift amount to which departments showed the highest participation. Beyond our annual campaign this tool has given us the ability to dive into additional campaigns, such as our current Giving Campaign for Racial Justice.

(Note from United Way: Prior to using Philanthropy Cloud, Harvard Pilgrim used our United For Good platform which allows for similar giving and reporting features.)