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Corporate giving and community engagement play key roles in workforce development

September 6, 2023

Work Matters Column by Joe Fowler 

Joe Fowler

When employers consider workforce development and retention, some of the most obvious factors to consider may include fair compensation for employees, good employee benefits and a quality work environment and culture. But a major factor that is not considered quite as much is corporate giving. 

According to corporate giving statistics compiled by Re:charity, 75 percent of employees who engage in corporate giving programs tend to have longer tenures with their company. In addition, 71 percent of surveyed employees say it’s very important to work at a company that supports giving and volunteering, and 55 percent of employees would choose to work for a socially responsible company, even if it meant earning a lower salary.

At United Way of Central Kentucky (UWCK), where I serve as president and CEO, we see ourselves not only as an organization that helps our most vulnerable community members, but also as an organization that helps bolster the workforce of our region. We seek to accomplish this by providing resources and empowerment for underprivileged individuals to successfully integrate into the workforce, and by providing engaging charitable giving opportunities to local employers. 

Serving Hardin, Meade, Breckinridge, Grayson and LaRue counties, UWCK funds organizations and initiatives that support education, financial stability and health and basic needs in our region. Our 2023 funded partners encompass a wide range of crucial community organizations and programs, from Warm Blessings to CASA of the Heartland to Silverleaf Sexual Trauma Recovery Services and so many more. Though our reach is wide and our focus multi-faceted, we are able to accomplish our goals with the help of our generous donors, many of whom engage with us through their workplace. 

Workplace campaigns in support of UWCK build camaraderie while engaging and educating people in tackling our community’s biggest issues. Whether it’s through direct donations or through payroll deductions, when employees come together for a shared cause, it provides the workplace with a heightened sense of purpose and unity. 

United Way of Central Kentucky's President and CEO Joe Fowler sat down with Kentucky's Heartland to talk about corporate giving and community engagement.

Altec Industries, our largest workplace campaign donor, is a testament to how our workplace campaigns allow local businesses to engage their employees through corporate giving. 

"Altec believes in being good corporate citizens within the communities where we do business,” said Emily Smith at Altec Industries. “As the campaign coordinator, I enjoy hearing stories and talking with associates about how they have been personally affected and why they give. I am proud of the difference Altec's employee donations make each year within Central Kentucky." 

For a more hands-on approach, employees can also come together and participate in volunteer opportunities organized through UWCK. Year-round, we offer local businesses long and short-term volunteer opportunities that fit their needs. We also host an annual Day of Action, in which volunteer teams of all sizes tackle meaningful projects addressing community and agency needs. 

A great example of the volunteer opportunities we offer is through our Community Garden and adjourning Education Pavilion, which aligns with our organization's three pillars, encompassing health, education, and financial stability. By offering fresh produce to the neighborhood, the garden promotes healthier eating habits. Additionally, the availability of free and low-cost food helps residents save money, contributing to their financial stability.

Central to our approach at UWCK is a focus on the individual, including their employment journey. Recognizing the comprehensive nature of workforce integration in our region, this journey often requires improved access to financial stability, healthcare, housing, childcare and education as foundational stepping stones. This is where UWCK and other nonprofit organizations can assist. Subsequently, these individuals might require guidance with training, tuition support, resume building, or job search strategies. This is where organizations like Kentucky Career Center-Lincoln Trail (KCC-LT) are helpful. 

For employers, KCC-LT offers a range of recruitment services, including in-person and online job fairs, applicant screenings, consultative support and more. Once employers find the talent they are looking for, our engagement at UWCK through meaningful corporate giving opportunities can help nurture their retention. 

The pursuit of regional workforce development is a complex tapestry woven from a multitude of factors, and the nonprofit sector is certainly an integral thread within it.

To learn more about UWCK, including information about workplace campaigns, visit unitedwayck.org. To learn more about resources available through KCC-LT, visit https://ltcareercenter.org

The Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail helps match job seekers with local employment and training opportunities. Our business solutions team offers employers of all sizes and industries personalized support to build a competitive workforce. We are an equal opportunity employer.

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Program is funded with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I funds through the Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet and the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board.