Helping employees support organizations in their communities can be a powerful tool for employers to engage with workers. That’s a lesson learned by Portland-based Standard Insurance Company, which prioritizes charitable giving to create a “culture of caring.”

The company recently announced its 2017 Employee Giving Campaign, which is a two-for-one match of employee contributions to schools and nonprofits in their communities.

The dollar-for-dollar match by The Standard and its parent organization, Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company, means that for every dollar an employee gives, a school or nonprofit will receive three dollars.

“We offer this benefit because of our dual focus on exceptional customer service and desire to support the places we live and work,” says Bob Speltz, senior public affairs director at The Standard. “[That focus] has been part of The Standard’s core culture since our founding in 1906. Unlike industries with tangible products, we take it seriously to focus on helping people achieve financial well-being and peace of mind.”

In 2016, 70% of The Standard’s employees across the country participated in the annual giving program, pledging $1.5 million to 1,500 schools and nonprofits. After the dollar-for-dollar matches from The Standard and Meiji Yasuda, a record-breaking $4.2 million is being distributed to community partners throughout 2017, Speltz says.

“Our more than 3,000 employees are part of this culture of caring,” Speltz adds. “Not surprisingly, our employees place a high value on giving back, partnering with the company to find ways to make a difference and support our communities.”

The Employee Giving Campaign also includes a company-wide barbecue, games, bake sales and even an online auction to help raise funds.

And other incentives are provided for employees to engage in the program. For instance, when employees purchase a $100 Jeans Days sticker during the 2017 Employee Giving campaign, they can wear jeans on Thursdays and Fridays in 2017, Speltz says.

“Their $100 donation is also double matched and is designated to benefit one of five Jeans Days partner organizations,” he adds. “This program raised more than $530,000 last year.”

Generally, it’s easy and convenient to donate, he says. “It only takes a few minutes for employees to pledge to their favorite charities through either a one-time payment or biweekly payroll deductions.”

And while the Society for Human Resource Management’s latest annual survey finds that charitable giving has remained relatively flat over the years — 21% in 2016 and 20% in 2017 — The Standard takes its initiative even further than charitable donations.

The company also provides workers with paid time off annually to volunteer, Speltz says. “Many employees use those hours, and more, to support community partners such as schools, Meals on Wheels, literacy programs and many other worthy groups,” he adds. “In 2016, employees of The Standard volunteered tens of thousands of hours supporting their favorite nonprofit organizations.”

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