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Integrating Charitable Giving Into Employee Rewards & Recognition Programs: An Interview With Bucketlist Rewards

We sit down with Bucketlist Rewards to discuss how charitable giving, in the form of donations, can be used to reward and recognize employees.

A workplace social impact program includes many avenues of doing and giving. Whether that be making a donation, hosting a company-wide volunteer day, or organizing a fundraiser, these acts of kindness all elicit the same result: making the world a better place.

While we have talked extensively about employee volunteering and fundraising, we wanted to shine a little bit of extra light on one other important area of giving back: donating. 

Kambeo helps nonprofits and charities expand their reach, providing them with a platform to educate individuals about their mission while being able to directly receive donations. On the corporate side, employees are able to discover and donate to charities and nonprofits based on their personal interests.

With donating being a fundamental element of any workplace social impact program, other SaaS platforms are offering an outlet that connects organizations with a multitude of charities and nonprofits their employees can donate to.

One company offering charitable giving (through donations) is Bucketlist Rewards, a B2B SaaS provider that enables organizations to build and manage their employee rewards & recognition programs. We discuss why charitable giving is built into Bucketlist Rewards’ business model, what organizations gain from offering charitable giving as a reward, and in a broader sense, why employee reward & recognition is imperative in workplaces today.

1. When was Bucketlist Rewards founded and what led to its conception? 

Back in 2016, Bucketlist Rewards was originally founded as a goal-setting platform to help people achieve their life dreams. Today, after many iterations, it is a leading B2B SaaS provider in the employee rewards and recognition space with a focus on our original goal of helping people achieve their bucket list items! Bucketlist Rewards was originally founded in Vancouver, British Columbia, but we are now a remote-first company with team members all over the world. 

2. Can you describe how the platform works?

We are on a mission to help companies build the best workplace cultures in the world. We do this by providing an employee rewards and recognition platform for organizations of all sizes and sectors. 

On the recognition side, our platform makes it easy and fun for team members to recognize each other (with Bucketlist points!) for milestones, achievements, and a job well done. Employees can redeem their points for rewards that are most meaningful to them, such as gift cards, charitable donations, or experiences! 

Recognition is such an important aspect of our lives at work. We’re happy to see that every month, our platform positively impacts many employees’ lives, while also helping companies address challenges such as increasing employee retention, employee engagement, and breaking down company silos.

Flexibility and personalization are very important to us and we’re able to customize our platform to suit the needs of any business. We are proud to share that we’ve been ranked number one by review sites like Capterra for ease of use and our platform helps to automate HR processes, giving more time back to all the busy HR leaders out there! 

3. Why do you believe employee recognition and rewards are so important in today’s workforce? 

Employee recognition and rewards aren’t just important in today’s workforce; it’s absolutely crucial for a company’s success! A lack of recognition is often the top culprit for voluntary turnover. In fact, a study by Deloitte found that companies with recognition programs and high employee engagement have 31% lower voluntary turnover compared to organizations with ineffective or no recognition programs.

The world of work has also changed dramatically in the last few years. With the rise in distributed work, the way we communicate, build relationships and collaborate looks different. For many people, priorities have also shifted. In fact, studies show that employees are now looking to their employer for more than just a paycheque; 53% of people are more likely to prioritize their health and well-being over work than before the pandemic. 

At Bucketlist, we try to tackle common HR issues from the perspective of rewards and recognition: high turnover rates, improving employee engagement and retention, breaking down silos, and improving employee happiness. 

As human beings, we have an innate need to feel recognized and appreciated in all that we do. Recognition helps us build that sense of belonging and fulfills this fundamental need in all of us. A study by LinkedIn shows that 59% of people noted that recognition was the largest single contributor to an overall sense of belonging. Therefore, it’s crucial to have recognition in all aspects of our lives—including at work. 

4. Why does Bucketlist Rewards bring in charitable giving (in the form of donations) as a redeemable reward for employees?

One of the key philosophies behind the Bucketlist platform is rewarding people in the way that is most meaningful to them. Giving someone who is afraid of heights the gift of a bungee jumping experience is not a good way to show appreciation. Similarly, giving someone with a nut allergy a gift basket with chocolate-covered peanuts definitely doesn’t send the right message. The message behind an employee reward should always be, “As a token of my heartfelt appreciation, here is a gift that I know you will enjoy.”

No two people are the same; though two individuals may share the same job titles, we are also defined by our interests, passions, and lifestyles outside of work. To reflect this, the Bucketlist Rewards marketplace is stocked full of various reward options. No matter who you are or what your interests are, we want you to be able to find something that excites you. 

For some people, philanthropy or charitable giving is something that’s extremely fulfilling to them. Offering the option of charitable giving as an employee reward shows that as an employer, we care deeply about who you are as a whole person: both at work and outside of it. 

Offering and encouraging philanthropy in the workplace and as a reward can help employees feel a sense of community and allows them to give back to local charities or nonprofits of interest. It can also help to create a purpose-driven workplace that fosters employee belonging, pride, and connectedness, all of which contribute to employee retention. 

5. What are some other redeemable rewards your platform offers to employees?

Great question! Flexibility and personalization are extremely important to us, so we like for our rewards to reflect that. Aside from gift cards and charitable giving, we focus on curating a wide range of experiential rewards for our users. 

People have redeemed some cool experiences and it’s interesting to watch people tick things off their bucket lists! Here are some recent redemptions:

  • Race a Ferrari 488 GTB at Milwaukee Mile Speedway 
  • Lost World Caverns tour for two adults
  • Sedwick Zoo family membership
  • Private blacksmithing experience 
  • Sea Caves kayak tour
  • Learn to write fiction
  • Dance lessons for two
  • Manchester Cheese Crawl

We also like to allow organizations to customize their marketplaces and offer company-related rewards that people can redeem. Often, these are really fun and creative, and work to bring the whole team together! Some examples of our favourites are as follows: 

  • Pick the music for the day
  • CEO calls your parent (to tell them what a great job you’re doing!)
  • Push the supervisor into the pool 
  • Name a goat 
  • VIP parking stall for the week 

6. What are some of the benefits organizations using your platform are seeing when they build social good into their employee rewards & recognition programs? 

In 2020, we saw that Americans donated $471.44 billion to charities. And approximately 25% of American adults participate in philanthropic volunteering. We’re definitely preaching to the choir here, but it’s clear that charitable giving and philanthropy is something that’s extremely important to many people. 

But recently, charitable giving has declined as much as 12%. With all the change and uncertainty that has come with the pandemic and other challenges, this isn’t necessarily a surprise; as much as people would like to continue giving, it can be challenging. So the great thing about offering charitable donations as an employee rewards option is that employers are able to support employees in a way that’s meaningful to them. 

Many of our clients have a very robust donation category in the Bucketlist Rewards marketplace, offering over 40 charities for their employees to choose from. They cover a variety of different causes, from food justice to animal welfare, allowing employees to give to whichever mission means the most to them. As an example, one of our clients has a team of employees who find charitable giving extremely meaningful to them; 7.5% of all their redemptions on the platform are charitable donations! 

Recently, another one of our clients wanted to celebrate their 10-year anniversary by giving back to the community. They launched a 10 Days of Giving campaign on the Bucketlist platform. To choose the charities to highlight each day, they had a round table discussion so that employees could give feedback and suggestions on what causes mattered most to them. The leadership team took this information back and chose the final 10 charities to showcase during the campaign. Because their team is distributed, they made sure to have options available so that everyone could participate. 

The results? They saw a spike in employee participation with the campaign. Redemptions have been slower over the winter months (historically, we’ve seen a trend where people tend to save up their points to use over the summer on various experiences). The campaign only went on for a few days, but the number of redemptions in just a few days was more than double what we saw over the previous 3 weeks. It’s impressive to see how many people immediately jumped on the opportunity to give. 

From our perspective, there are many benefits for organizations when they incorporate social good into their recognition and rewards programs. It’s so heartwarming to see when companies utilize our platform for charitable giving campaigns. Providing opportunities for employees to participate in charitable giving can increase employee engagement and happiness. It all contributes to an awesome culture of appreciation where teams can give back and celebrate the impact that they have on the world around them.  

As reaffirmed by Bucketlist Rewards, incorporating charitable giving opportunities into employee reward & recognition programs increases engagement and retention. When employees feel appreciated, valued, and recognized by their employer for a job well done, they will feel a stronger emotional connection to their employer, and as a result, will be more likely to stay with that organization.

If you’d like more ideas on how to recognize and reward your employees in a personal and meaningful way, check out the Bucketlist blog for more resources, tools, and strategies! Or Book a demo to discuss how to get started with employee recognition and rewards today.

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