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STUDY: Add a Charitable Incentive at Work to Boost Productivity

By Allison Gauss

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We all know charities can do wonderful things for people in need, but it’s important to remember that its positive effects benefit the givers, too. A new study from the University of Southampton shows that increased work productivity could be yet another positive result of workplace philanthropy.

The Study

The study, led by Dr. Mirco Tonin, recruited university students to complete a series of one hour sessions of data entry in exchange for £20. The participants were split into four groups with different incentives, including groups whose work resulted in a lump sum donation when their task was complete and a group in which donations were made based on the number of entries completed.

The study also tested participants’ willingness to give by offering some participants the option to choose whether and how much of their pay was donated.

The Results

The study’s findings were encouraging, not just for nonprofits, but for employers as well. When participants were given the choice to donate, over half gave a portion of their pay to charity. Furthermore, when a charitable incentive was present (whether lump sum or tied to number of entries) workers actually completed more data entries.

Linking a charitable gift with the work increased performance by an average of 13 percent. The increase rose to 26 percent among those participants who chose their own level of contribution.

Co-author Dr. Michael Vlassopoulos said, “We can see that social incentives have a positive impact on the number of entries made, without compromising accuracy.” This finding gives employers a novel tool to motivate workers and gives nonprofit professionals a valuable reference when looking to forge corporate partnerships. This research can be handy in discussion about how to operate corporate giving campaigns and get employees involved.

Does your organization operate any employee driven corporate giving initiatives? Let us know in the comments!

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