Pierre-Emmanuel Grange © Encore Magazine

Is embedded generosity the philanthropy of modern times?

Meeting with Pierre-Emmanuel Grange, founder of microDON

pascale strubel
Jun 14, 2018 · 4 min read

Pierre-Emmanuel Grange founded microDON in 2009 with a very specific idea in mind: to create a social start-up to facilitate solidarity commitment, in everyday life as in enterprises. For this, microDON has set up tools of solidarity mobilization and participative patronage to offer the opportunity to all to be a player of change in a simple and painless way. Its flagship tool, “l’ARRONDI” has collected nearly 7 million euros since its creation, fully donated to hundreds of NPOs.

How did the idea of creating microDON come to you?

The idea came to me during one of my professional trips to Mexico. I was working for a very large international group. This was in 2005, and Mexico had already implemented a program in some supermarkets, the “Redondear” program, which means “round up”. When I returned to France, I decided to quit IT services for fundraising. In France, we already had the “yellow coins operation” that worked well. So I took the idea and adapted it to make digital solidarity: I became a “Madame Chirac 2.0” somehow! The concept of “Embedded Generosity” has since grown. This is a new form of philanthropy that consists of grafting a donation opportunity into daily transactions to allow citizens to give a few cents to a few euros from everyday acts: payroll, cash receipts, invoices, bank statements, etc.

Payday donations exist for more than 30 years in Great Britain and the result is astounding: every year more than 800,000 English employees participate, which represents a total annual amount of 100 million pounds sterling!

You say that the solutions that you develop help to awaken engagement with a new audience and (re) make sense in business by federating around common values. Can you develop this concept of commitment?

For me, commitment is first of all a feeling of belonging, a desire to work together, to build something in common. This is a theme that is growing in business, partly thanks to the economic recovery. Employees clearly expect more than a salary. The “Employee Value Proposition” has grown steadily in recent years and the employer is now obliged to answer this question: “What can I propose to my employees so flourish “? I think solidarity responds largely to this question because it is a very powerful vehicle for engagement, which goes far beyond sports team building for example, because it is about supporting causes. Companies surf on this: helping an association, sometimes through its local branch while in the region, is a way to create a real sense of pride for employees.

You have recently completed your Payday Giving solution with Time Giving. Which audiences are you targeting?

Contrary to what one can read sometimes, I think that the concept of engagement affects all generations. We talk a lot about the famous Y generation, which has new expectations. Some companies employ a lot of juniors whose turnover is very fast, and this is a real problem for them. To mitigate this, some companies set up youth-specific engagement programs. We can cite the example of “Vendredi”, which offers young employees to conduct skills sponsorship missions every Friday within an association.

But commitment also affects a senior population. “Senior part-time programs” can indeed lead to a smoother transition to retirement. When you are a senior, you do not necessarily work at the same pace as the others, but you have more solid skills that you often want to transmit, and this can be done within associations that have enormous needs. This is another form of investment, which prepares the after-work. I am totally convinced of the importance of this subject because to go through the French employment agency before retiring is humanly difficult to live with: one has the feeling of having become useless, which is far from being the case.

Companies / employees / associations: can we speak of a “virtuous triangle”?

I would rather say that we are dealing with a set of virtuous circles that feed on each other but whose cursor is not necessarily at the same place. Rounding on pay or cash, for example, does not change the world, but it is a first step towards solidarity, a first way of giving, an education for giving. It may make you want to do more; it is the famous “Hummingbird”, popularized by Pierre Rhabi, who wants to do his part.

Regarding this device I insist on the fact that there is a real collective dimension since it is a “collaborative sponsorship”. Employees choose the associations they wish to support, for example through votes, and employers, in 90% of cases, abound donations. Everyone wins.

“The only constant is change” is a phrase that is important to you, why?

This quote speaks to me because I am convinced that we must never remain static. On the contrary, we have to constantly reinvent ourselves, and that’s what we try to do every day at microDON.

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