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A Step-by-Step Guide to Engaging your Employees in Fundraising

Royal LePage volunteers in company aprons pose at the 2017 garage sale.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation’s partnership with the Canadian Women’s Foundation. Together we’re moving women and children in Canada out of violence.

Most companies are looking for ways to strengthen employee engagement, build team work, and enhance motivation. Many employees are looking for simple and fun ways to give back to their community through their workplaces. As Executive Director of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation (RLSF), I’ve had the privilege of seeing our supporters go above and beyond for our charity.

Our supporters recognize that a house is only a home if the people who live there feel safe, respected, and loved. Sadly, that’s not the case for Canadian women and their children who experience domestic violence. That’s why RLSF was created, and it’s now the largest foundation in Canada dedicated exclusively to funding women’s shelters and domestic violence prevention programs. We’ve raised more than $27 million and we fund close to 200 women’s shelters across the country each year, in addition to contributing to the Violence Prevention Grants program at the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

RLSF provides an avenue for Royal LePage professionals to make a difference in their community by organizing fundraising events, donating a portion of their commissions, volunteering at local shelters, and taking part in national fundraising campaigns. We take a lot of pride in the level of engagement our REALTORS® and employees have with the company and the foundation. Here’s what I have learned works best for engaging employees in organizing fundraising events:

  1. Determine your employees’ interests. For example, do you have people who like to cook or bake? Host a bake sale or auction off “catered” meals. Is your group more oriented to sports? Organize a softball tournament, a golf tournament, or a night of axe-throwing!
  2. Understand your corporate culture. Is there an undercurrent of “friendly competition” in your company? Is team-building important? Do you want to provide opportunities for people from different departments to work together? You may want to create a fundraising event that has a competitive element, such as the team trivia tournament we held at our annual fundraising gala. We’ve also organized two very successful fundraising treks to Peru and Iceland. The participants had to raise significant funds for RLSF, cover their own travel costs, and train physically and mentally for months to endure long days of hiking. This type of event works well for our supporters who are very goal-driven, love opportunities to network with their peers, and are willing to go outside their comfort zone to support our cause.
  3. Decide if there are particular business goals you want to accomplish through your fundraising. For example, do you want to involve your clients, customers, and business partners? Or is employee participation the main goal? Do you want to increase awareness of your company? Research has shown that consumers are more likely to trust and be loyal to a brand that is giving back to the community through philanthropy. Do you want to attract positive attention through both traditional media and social media? Answering these questions will help you determine the type of fundraising initiative you may want to undertake.
  4. Establish a fundraising goal and budget. The last thing you want to do is to go through the effort of organizing a fundraising event only to discover that the costs to run it exceed the anticipated revenue. Establishing a goal and a budget also helps identify where there are various sources of revenue you can pursue, e.g. sponsorship, ticket sales, merchandise sales, opportunity to ask for a donation at the event.
  5. Set up a committee. It’s always more fun to work with like-minded people and it helps share the load. For the National Garage Sale for Shelter, which is the largest one-day charity garage sale in Canada, we encourage Royal LePage offices to set up a committee to obtain donations, secure sponsorships, and set up on the day of the sale.
  6. Consistency pays off. Royal LePage has many offices that hold fundraising events for our foundation throughout the year. Whether it be a 50/50 draw held during the weekly staff meeting, a spring garage sale, a summer BBQ, or a holiday gathering in December, these events have become embedded in the fabric of the company and serve to keep people engaged throughout the year. The adage “no donation is too small” holds true here and, over time, this type of fundraising can add up to big results.
  7. Look for ways to put the “fun” in fundraising. Yes, it’s a cliché, but when it comes to involving your employees in fundraising or volunteerism, the planning and execution of the event should be fun, rewarding, and motivating. Even when the “cause” itself is serious, such as working to end gender-based violence, the fundraising activities should be enjoyable, easy to implement, and leave participants feeling good. The list of potential fundraising events suitable to a workplace is long – including silent auctions, bake sales, tournaments, dinners, movie or comedy nights, and more – but the “secret sauce” is ensuring that your employees enjoy the planning process, feel supported by their supervisor or the company as a whole, and are recognized for the positive impact they are having on the community.

Hosting your own event is an opportunity to support our work in your own community, in your own creative way. We know that hosting an event takes time and effort, and we’re here to support you with ideas, resources and tools – including a way to set up your own online fundraising page!

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