4 Steps for Starting an Employee Relief Fund

Last week, sgEngage released a podcast episode featuring Holly Welch Stubbing, CEO of E4E Relief. In the episode, Holly spoke with Blackbaud’s VP of Corporate Citizenship and Philanthropy Rachel Hutchisson about the past year, the growth in need for employee relief funds, and the extensive research E4E Relief has conducted to further the industry.

As an industry, we have typically thought of disasters in the natural sense, however after 2020, we have had to take a completely new stance on what disasters can look like. With COVID-19, hardship can come in so many different avenues. Due to this, employee relief funds have experienced enormous expansion in application and implementation numbers. They have even served as a great benefit to helping employees get back to work faster, with research showing that 27% of all grant recipients were able to immediately direct more of their attention to their work because of the aid provided through employee relief funds.

Employee relief funds are a relatively new branch of the social good industry, providing grants through public charities to not only employees but also members of communities to help cover expenses incurred during hardship. E4E Relief, a 501©3 organization directed by IRS guidelines, is able to provide direct relief in crisis to corporations, community foundations, and individuals.

The ERF (Employee Relief Fund) industry has grown considerably because of COVID-19 – most notably because of the flexibility these programs provide. Employee relief programs are able to fund and solve for so many different problems a company, community, or individual may be facing and it offers corporations wiggle-room in the type of relief they can normally provide employees. They can even be a great way to increase company loyalty and employee engagement! Thanks to the research conducted by E4E Relief and Canary, we know that 73% of respondents feel more positively towards their employer because they were provided an employee relief program by the organization.

Here are the Four Steps to Start Your Employee Relief Fund

1. Planning

It is not ideal to wait for disaster to strike to establish your employee relief fund (but it can be done). Planning ahead and starting the conversations with leadership about potential impact is the fastest and most efficient way to get your ERF off the ground. Gather the right team of people across your organization, including legal, finance, HR and CSR to engage and collaborate on goals so nothing is left unconsidered. When discussing what the organization should establish in its programs, overlay the company’s ESG (environmental, social, governance) investments with employee needs to create a strategic relief program.

2. Funding

Make sure you really work with your team of people on much the employee relief fun is going to cost your organization. Sometimes people launch programs that are short-term in nature to address a particular disaster and other times they are looking to launch something more permanent. When launching something short-term or long-term, you want to know what your financial implications will be.

3. Communication

The biggest question you must ask yourself at this stage is how are you going to let your people know this benefit exists? Just like any corporate launch of a new product or resource, you’re going to want to have the most by-in possible. Utilize the resources you have in-house and collaborate with marketing and leadership to further establish awareness of the program.

4. Set-Up

Know what options you have. This can come from doing more research or working with a third-party provider like E4E Relief. We have some great in-depth resources on our corporate solutions blog to get you started. Regardless, if you want to establish your own public charity to develop a grants policy, review committee, and tech infrastructure to support that or are considering a partnership externally from your organization to keep it clean-cut, should do your homework!

Learn more about the setup and uses of employee relief funds and E4E Relief on the sgEngage Podcast!