Ideas for Increasing Participation in Employee Relief Funds

Employees engage with company-sponsored emergency relief funds in two ways: 

  1. as the chief revenue providers, through donations to the fund, 
  2. as beneficiaries of the fund when hardship or disaster strikes.

Increasing employee awareness of and participation in the fund is critical to its success. Here are a few ideas for ways that companies can raise awareness and thereby, participation levels.

  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Getting the word out to the workforce that the fund exists cannot be overdone. A strong introductory campaign, with information about the structure, intent and administration of the fund is paramount.
  2. Circulate your Frequently Asked Questions document widely. This is the best means of explaining to employees how the fund works for them.
  3. Make sure your documentation is detailed and clear about the grant application process. The IRS requires specific documentation when applying for funds, and employees need to understand that such documentation must be complete before an application can be processed.
  4. Encourage early commitment to regular contributions by all employees – make it a part of new employee orientation.
  5. Ensure company executives are contributing and are visibly supportive of the fund. Solicit statements from executive of their commitment to the fund, its mission and its success.
  6. Have local management and HR urge employees to apply for assistance when they qualify under the plan rules – it is there for them and they should feel confident in taking advantage of it in their time of need.
  7. Seek out and share recipient success stories to demonstrate the good that the fund is achieving.
  8. Provide regular updates to employees on the state of the fund – what percent of the employee base is contributing; how much has been given; how many grants have been made. And again, success stories!
  9. Conduct an annual donation drive or an employee fund-raising event.
  10. Consider matching employee contributions at some level – either as the contribution is made or annually as a percent of the total amount contributed during the year.

An employee emergency relief fund is one way to make employees feel valued. Keeping employees informed about the work of the fund is a way to increase employee engagement in its success.

Doug Stockham

Racquel Vespucci

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