In June, PASS held its annual PAC Management and epacInfo User Conference, where industry leaders gathered to discuss some of the greatest challenges PAC managers face in today's climate.
During the discourse, roundtable leaders called on attendees to share specific instances in which unanticipated aspects of getting a corporate PAC up and running led to – at the very least – administrative headaches. Other's anecdotes were more serious, and told of impasses that kept them from getting their receipt numbers up to or above their goal.
It didn't take long for themes to develop, as more and more attendees realized they had all confronted similar issues. Thankfully, with experts at hand, many walked away from the event with a greater knowledge of PAC management, a few hacks to encourage growth and even the confidence to present the PAC to corporate leadership.
Here are three of the biggest takeaways from the event that can help you solve the most common challenges PAC managers see when implementing a PAC charity match program.
1. Don't underestimate how fast your PAC match program can grow
PAC match programs have proven to be extremely effective ways to increase participation in your corporate PAC. However, as many pointed out, this option is often so attractive to eligible employees that it leads to a huge surge in buy-in. While this of course comes with higher receipts, it can also create, to be blunt, utter chaos.
One PAC manager explained that when her company put its PAC match plan into effect, it was matching $400,000. However, this number ballooned to about $2 million as the company increased communication and awareness of the matching program. This massive surge was partially attributed to the company's tier system in which only those who gave $500 or more were eligible for the charity match program.
To handle this rapid growth, the experts stated that it may be best to start small in every way. For example, limiting the 501(c)(3) organizations that employees can give to – at least in the nascent stages of the PAC match program – can help stagger the growth. The roundtable participants also added that including about half local charities goes a long way toward greater adoption of the matching program. A general rule may be to start with 10 charities as a part of the program, with five of them local. From there, you can gauge interest in the program, and you'll likely even have employees asking for other groups to be placed on the list of acceptable charities, giving you the option to grow at your own pace.
2.PAC match and company culture go hand in hand
If you ever find yourself struggling to get more people in your company to take advantage of your existing PAC charity match, take a step back and look at your surroundings, the culture your company fosters and employee morale. It may not be the most comfortable topic to bring up when leadership asks why the corporate PAC has been stagnant, but it's an honest answer – and addresses a real problem.
In once instance, one PAC manager noted that despite a charity match program with 14,000 eligible employees, contributions were very poor one year. It also happened that in that year, due to the company's performance, bonuses were far lower than many employees had expected. This correlation suggests that if employees don't have high morale within your organization, their contributions to the corporate PAC could take a hit.
If this happens, don't panic. All companies go through ups and downs. However, in this event, it is important to maintain focus. Rather than lowering your fundraising goals the next year because of the previous year's performance, work with leadership on how to build a company culture of giving and charity. This, however, brings us to the next biggest challenge all PAC managers face.
Knowing how – and when – to promote your charity match campaign is crucial. The expert panelists agreed that one of the best times to ramp up your communication efforts is the February-March-April period. This is especially true if company bonuses were above average the previous year, or there were other successes that were announced company-wide that would boost morale and loyalty.
But communication regarding the charity match program should begin long before it's actually in effect. While growth can occur unexpectedly fast, putting the plan into effect in the first place can drag for months or even years without the right communication. Be sure to include all departments when ramping it up, and find out who, exactly, has to be involved. It's especially important to keep lines of communication open with the accounting department regarding taxes and bank accounts, as well as legal. Without their input, your program could spend months on the backburner.
"You'd be surprised how quickly employees cancel when communication is poor."
As a general rule, if you have around 1,600 eligible employees, allow about 6 months for the match program to be up and running before you communicate it with your employees. You'll want to make sure you've addressed every detail before communicating it – you'd be surprised how quickly they cancel if, for example, they hear one of their checks never made it to the intended charity.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the challenges that PAC managers face when implementing and maintaining charity match programs, but a handful of some of the most widely felt pains. To learn how to overcome these challenges easily and affordably, get in touch with PASS today.
"If you're looking to move to a PAC match program," one attendee stated to the crowd, unprompted, "PASS has an amazing program."
She went on to discuss how PASS' charity match program turned hours and hours of work into a few simple emails. In her case, PASS performed the due diligence of going through all the charities on the company's list to ensure they were registered 501(c)(3) organizations. Without PASS, she explained, the company would have had to limit the number of charities it offered employees. But thanks to PASS' help, it had very few limits on acceptable charities, and this, in turn, led to higher contributions.
Let PASS help you get your charity match program up and running today.