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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

For many years companies and public employers have worked in concert with one or more charitable federations to produce popular and effective workplace giving campaigns. Employers strive to maximize the impact their campaign has on employee morale and on the communities in which they operate, while keeping costs to a minimum.

In an effort to improve the cost effectiveness of running a workplace giving campaign, many organizations are looking to outside contractors to manage their annual campaign. Let's take a closer look.

  1. How does the work of EarthShare California benefit our employees?
  2. How do we include EarthShare California in our charitable giving campaign?
  3. What if we do not already have a payroll deduction charitable campaign? How can we start one?
  4. Will adding EarthShare California negatively affect our current charitable campaign?
  5. What are federations and how do they work?
  6. How does EarthShare California fit into our guidelines restricting campaigns to "health and human services"?
  7. Why not just let employees make their own contributions outside of the workplace?
  8. Will the campaign become more complicated or confusing with more than one federation involved?
  9. Why not utilize the "Donor Choice" approach provided by a single federation to allow employees to give to any agency?
  10. What are the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing our overall campaign management to one federation?

Q. How does the work of EarthShare California agencies benefit our employees?

A. Survey after survey document that environmental concerns rate among the highest priority for the people of California. EarthShare member organizations work individually and collectively on the principle that environmental problems know no boundaries. Air and water quality issues, for example, effect communities across the state, and beyond. Many EarthShare agencies have local impact through the planting of trees, protection of rivers or the provision of after school programs. Others have impact on a broader scale by defending wildlife, preserving redwoods or monitoring legislative activity as an advocate for the earth.

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Q. How do we include EarthShare California in our charitable giving campaign?

A. It's easy. If you have an annual employee giving campaign the mechanisms for the campaign are already in place. No additional company time is required. Generally, federations work cooperatively, bringing expanded support resources, to create a truly combined campaign. A combined campaign is often easier to manage than one restricted to just one federation because employees are more enthusiastic with the greater choices available, and there is additional support from federations. EarthShare's staff will work with your payroll department to coordinate the charitable deduction logistics.

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Q. What if we do not already have a payroll deduction charitable campaign? How can we start one?

A. The process is simple. If you have the mechanism for deducting taxes, payroll savings, or retirement, you have the ability to add a payroll giving option. EarthShare staff will work with you to determine the best way to introduce the campaign to your employees. Our campaigns are straightforward and professional. There is no coercion. Distribution of contributions to individual agencies is the responsibility of EarthShare. You simply send cumulative deduction checks to us for disbursement.

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Q. Will adding EarthShare California negatively impact our current charitable campaign?

A. On the contrary, experience shows that your campaign contributions will likely grow. Expanded choices in the campaign will attract additional donors, and many of your existing donors will expand their contribution. As one example, in the year Kaiser Permanente added EarthShare, overall results increased 67%.

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Q. What are federations and how do they work?

A. Federations typically represent "affinity groups," allowing employers to provide employees with information about and access to hundreds of individual charitable organizations over a broad spectrum of interest areas. The federation structure provides the employer the efficiency of working with a single contact person.

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Q. How does EarthShare California fit into our guidelines restricting campaigns to "health and human services"?

A. EarthShare has been accepted into hundreds of campaigns where this guideline is used, in both the public and private sector. Human health is dependent upon environmental health. Our agencies protect health and human welfare in the most fundamental way. Finding alternatives to pesticides, creating renewable energy sources, and implementing low-impact technologies are a few examples of efforts that help to ensure human health, as well as the health of the planet. Quality of life is enhanced through the protection of open space areas and the conservation of species diversity.

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Q. Why not just let employees make their own contributions outside of the workplace?

A. Well-run workplace giving campaigns increase morale, as employees feel they are part of a team that cares about and is connected to the larger community in which they are located. Payroll deduction, by enabling an employee to give small amounts over time, is easy and convenient. Studies show the average donor makes a contribution as much as seven times larger through payroll deduction than through a one-time cash gift. EarthShare's workplace campaigns reach out to people who might not otherwise have chosen to get involved. Moreover, employees will learn of organizations that they may not have known about previously.

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Q. Will the campaign become more complicated or confusing with more than one federation involved?

A. When federations work in cooperation to present employees with a unified, employee-focused campaign, the expansion in choices is typically viewed as an improvement. Multiple-federation campaigns are run in thousands of work sites across the country. Proven successful strategies such as using a single, combined pledge form and brochure are used to ensure a clear and simple way for employees to support the organizations they choose.

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Q. Why not utilize the "Donor Choice" approach provided by a single federation to allow employees to give to any agency?

A. Unfortunately, the Donor Choice concept does not work out in practice. According to a study by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy in Washington D.C., fewer than 6% of total dollars collected in a campaign will be via Donor Choice. The biggest barrier to employees taking advantage of this system is the lack of information about charities not included in the campaign print materials. Providing real choice means offering employees the information they need to make a good decision. Multiple-federation campaigns provide that information and encourage employees to decide for themselves.

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Q. What are the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing our overall campaign management to one federation?

A. The advantages are typically described in terms of savings to your company: fewer staff resources to run the campaign and less administrative resources to process the results. Reducing the number of hours spent by staff conducting the campaign may not be significant. Ultimately, people respond much more favorably to a colleague presenting the option to participate in the campaign than they do to an outsider. "On-the-ground" campaign activities like brochure and pledge form distribution and collection are likely to still be the responsibility of your staff. The contractor typically provides training and support materials (both of which are provided free of charge in multiple-federation campaigns.)

The disadvantages are many. The most significant disadvantage is the introduction of an unnecessary level of bureaucracy that adds to overhead costs. It is not uncommon for the contractor to charge a fee on every donation made, even if it is not intended for an agency represented by their federation. There are now TWO overhead charges applied to any donation made to a charity outside of the contractor's federation, resulting in a strong dis-incentive for employees to choose from the full array of nonprofits.

Another significant problem is the long delay in routing donor information to other federations. Employees rank "being thanked for their gift" high among their concerns when participating in a workplace campaign. Our experience with campaign management contractors has been serious delays (up to 6 month) in notifying a federation that a gift has been made and providing the necessary contact information to offer appreciation. The donor is often frustrated and confused by this delay.

On the level of campaign activity, visibility and equal representation of the variety of choices included in the campaign are often lost in the shadow of a managing federation. Too often the campaign comes to look like a single federation promoting its members, with a footnote about added choices.

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