Steal This Idea: United Shore Introduces Employee Donation via Payroll Deduction

    You hear about how non-profit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity need donations year-around, but the question for one Metro Detroit company was how to make that happen.

    That is how Laura Lawson, chief people officer of Troy, Mich.,-based United Shore, came up with a new payroll-deduction option for the 1,200 employees at the mortgage-lending company.

    United ShoreWith no minimum or maximum amount, employees can choose to give to one of two charities selected by United Shore. Donations via payroll deduction are an attempt to help employees get involved and give back easily and quickly as they see fit, Lawson says. It’s also a way to “strengthen our relationship with the community,” she says.

    “People always need a roof over their heads,” Lawson says. “We need to pay it forward as a company and continue to do good all year. I don’t want all of our charitable and community-building efforts to take place just in December. The payroll deduction helps people give all year.”

    Giving has become an important tool for employee engagement, especially among millennials, who expect such programs to be administered creatively and using technology.

    There has been a lot of excitement among United Shore team members regarding the payroll deduction option, Lawson says. The company advertises the option through internal communication channels, reminding employees that they can jump in at any time, and any amount.

    United Shore is one of those 21st century companies that creates a sense of community within the workplace. “We’re friends; we care about each other,” Lawson says. United Shore offers a “brilliant ideas program” where any employee can offer the next big thing and possibly see it come to fruition. Payroll deduction charitable giving is one of many ways United Shore seeks to be “flexible,” says Lawson, to help employees not only succeed at work, but in life, too.

    Another soon-to-launch option for giving within the company involves Intranet points that serve as a pay-it-forward tool. Employees amass points and can use them to help the greater good – like buying cans of paint or siding for a Habitat house. It’s just one more opportunity to give back tangibly and easily through the workplace, Lawson says.

    Habitat logoThis marks the third year that United Shore has partnered with Habitat for Humanity Oakland County through dollar donations, sponsored volunteer days on build sites and ReStore donations.

    Habitat is thrilled with the new option for giving from this dedicated corporate partner. “This kind of creative, outside-the-box approach to charitable giving is a great example of what is possible when for-profit and non-profit entities partner,” says Joyce Russell, director of Development. “We are so grateful for the deep relationship we have with United Shore; with a partner like this, anything is possible and we find new and unusual frontiers that help us build more houses for more families seeking homeownership.”

    Research shows that workplace giving is one of the most successful methods of charitable giving. In 2012, Americans gave $316.2 billion to charity – $3 billion of which comes from workplaces every year. A 2013 report about the increasing importance of workplace giving programs revealed that such programs are even more about engaging employees and creating meaning in the workplace.