Behind the Scenes of ThankView Gives Back Week
What are the steps behind bringing a week-long giving program to a small company?
As the Community and Culture Manager here at ThankView, I looked at other tech companies for inspiration. One of those being Salesforce. But it was clear right from the start that a week focused on a culture of gratitude was going to look very different at ThankView (around 70 people as of this article) than Salesforce (a mere 60,000 employees).
ThankView is a unicorn, truly. And yours can be too. You don’t have to be Salesforce or Google. The impact does not have to be massive. It’s better to do a little at first, than nothing.
But first thing’s first.
Get Leadership Involved
Is giving a priority for your leadership team? Luckily for me, ThankView’s co-founders are committed to the idea that ThankView’s values be taken seriously.
My job is to help ensure we are who we say we are. Values can’t just hang on the wall. They have to be lived out. If not, you have a culture by default rather than definition, and that won't do!
If your leadership team is not on the same page, here are three questions you’ll need to answer before you embark on a Giving Day--or more ambitious a Giving Week--journey.
- Is a culture of giving back something that’s important to our work? Why or why not?
- Is donating time and money part of our mission? Should it be?
- What types of volunteering and matching programs do our employees want or expect?
Get Employees Involved
Now that you have the mission in place and your leadership has given the green light. What now?
Get employees involved.
It does not matter how amazing your organizational skills are or how passionate you are about a Giving Week project, you cannot succeed in building a company culture alone.
For ThankView, employee engagement was two-fold: donating money and donating time.
In our 2019 Giving Day, ThankView donated $1,000 to an organization of each employee’s choice. But this year, we decided to mix it up and request even more action to create even more impact.
Employees were given $500 to an organization they wanted to support. For this donation, all they needed to do was fill out a Google form with their name, the organization/s they wanted to donate to, and the link to the donation page.
And before you ask, yes, I spent one whole day going down that list just giving money away to 64 charities. Yes, it is just as much fun as you think it is.
But the more active portion of an employee’s donation came from fundraising. For any additional gifts, an employee made (either with their own donation or through social media fundraising efforts) ThankView matched those gifts up to $500.
One more note on donations and employee involvement. We sent a survey covering a variety of topics and the ThankView team chose “media literacy” as the topic of our culture club meeting.
Stop right now. What is a culture club?
At ThankView, culture club is an employee-led committee whose objectives are to foster a culture of introspection, deepen our sense of community, analyze the world around us, and advocate for a culture of diversity, equity & inclusion.
Our culture club team decided the hour-long session's layout and which organizations we would donate to. The hour-long meeting itself was hosted by our incredible consultant, Charlotte Fedders, and after the session, we donated $1,000 to both Common Sense Media and ProPublica.
As for volunteering, this is a tricky one. Some of our team live and work remotely outside of our home base in NYC. So coordinating different volunteer options took a lot of time and thought. But virtual volunteer opportunities are out there.
Some of our team volunteered virtually with the Red Cross, while our NYC crew volunteered at the Red Hook Initiative.
Now a question I’m sure you’re thinking is...was volunteering mandatory? Yes and no. Our volunteer days (there are 4 every year) are not presented as optional activities. I know that involvement and responsibility can look different for every person.
Here at ThankView, we announce that every quarter there is a volunteer event. From the hiring process to working at ThankView, employees know this is part of who we are as a team.
When it comes to volunteering:
- Set the expectation. For ThankView, that looks like volunteering quarterly from the moment each employee is hired.
- Create virtual volunteer options. To get started, I highly suggest checking out The Red Cross and Missing Maps’ initiative.
- Leverage your employees' strengths. To give you an example, one of our previous volunteer days was hosting a career day. Our employees spoke about their experiences breaking into the tech world and offered advice on resumes and interviews.
- Build community. As much as possible, we host in-person events. Doesn’t hurt if we follow up an afternoon of urban farming in Red Hook with some Hometown BBQ.
When it comes to donating both time and money, there is one takeaway for any culture manager: Make it easy for people to do.
Matching programs and volunteering do not need to be complicated or take hours and hours of your employees' workdays.
One of the many reasons I'm grateful for at ThankView is that our goal has never been to convince people that giving back is a priority, we have a team of people who value giving back.
I’d like to introduce you to just a few of them.
Take it away ThankView!