Why We Gave Each of Our Employees $10,000 to Give to Charity This Holiday

Stay true to your values, empower your teams, then act

The close of a fiscal year gives us all an opportunity to reflect. We evaluate what was, and just as important, what we will create for ourselves in the future. From a business perspective, we think about reconciling budgets, taxes, accounts receivable, accounts payable, end-of-year spending, and charitable giving—often in that order. 

We think about culture, how to fix it, how to create it, and/or how to sustain it. This end-of-year stock-taking represents not only an opportunity to assess but also to act. 

Most forward-looking companies take this end-of-year opportunity to remind employees of the company identity—its mission, vision and values—to deepen impact and expand the ways it energizes all aspects of its business. But in thinking about end-of-year vision bolstering, the question business leaders face is: How? 
It's a complex question, but its answer is surprisingly "on brand" for this season of giving. By turning what might seem like financial sacrifice into an opportunity to build culture and deepen your company's mission, vision and values, you may discover that the emotional payoff surpasses the "sacrifice." 

At FlyteVu, giving is the foundation of our company. It's not just a thread woven through every decision we make and every campaign we construct for our clients; it is the core of who we are. From the start, our company committed to giving 10 percent of all net profits to charity. It's the second highest spend, behind payroll. But this year, even that wasn't enough.

When considering how to create a meaningful, enduring end-of-year initiative at FlyteVu, we took our own advice and returned to our mission, vision and values, which can be encapsulated as: serving our clients with integrity and excellence, creating life's most memorable moments and giving back to our community. Since FlyteVu is known for doing "firsts"—the first to build and execute innovative marketing campaigns in tech, music and entertainment—we wanted and needed this to expand to our values as well. As founders, we decided to implement a new end-of-year stock taking that expanded to our employees.

Thanks to our incredible staff and clients, our agency was in a position to allocate $10,000 to each employee to donate to a charity of their choosing, which, as expected, left outsiders skeptical of its feasibility. The (well-meaning) skeptics are right: There's no doubt that, especially for an agency of our size, the impact of this kind of contribution is significant. However, that impact is the heart of the matter. 

By allocating each team member with $10,000 to donate, we collectively did something we've never done before. We empowered our team to take ownership of our values. 

Our team's generosity overflowed to the charities important to us, many of which our team members have spent time volunteering with over the years. We required employees to make personal contact with each charity, hand deliver the check, and reap the emotional benefit of their individual sacrifice and determination throughout the year that allowed the company to make the gift in the first place. Employees shared stories of lives changed, matching gifts, and the impact their gifts made. Story after story reminded everyone that we are all in this together. 

While giving money is significant, we also don't underestimate the importance of giving our time. Each team member is also allocated hours to volunteer during normal business hours, in addition to our agency service days. 

Whatever the focus might be, the end of the year offers a chance for companies to reflect and assess—whether that's closing the books or analyzing trends. It's crucially important. But it's just as important is finding ways to act on your values. Because that's what matters most.

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Laura Hutfless
Laura Hutfless is a partner at FlyteVu, a specialized marketing agency that connects brands to consumers through compelling storytelling, unparalleled experiences and the authentic power of music.

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