Corporate Giving Programs Can Give Businesses a Boost

By Pete Parker.

Creating corporate giving programs can be both exciting and challenging. There are many opportunities associated with advancing the greater good.

Taking the first step towards developing the plan might just be most difficult, yet empowering step taken. Do you hire staff…a consultant…or do it yourself? How much time, energy and funds do you allocate to developing the plan? Whom do you involve? What are your goals? How or do we leverage the giving program for the corporation’s financial growth?

In Susan Hyatt’s “The Benefits of Strategic Philanthropy”, she identifies ten reasons why businesses should implement giving programs. These include enhanced visibility, sales, awareness, productivity and corporate results. These benefits can place considerable impact on the business, positioning it for greater advancement as a corporation and, at the same time, leave an indelible mark within the non-profit sector.

Caroline Preston’s article entitled “Corporate Philanthropy Grapples With How to Create Giving Programs”, she mentions how “many companies are interested in finding models in which they can simultaneously improve the world and their bottom line”. I couldn’t agree more. While there are many altruistic and intangible reasons for business to be more community-engaging, they have a responsibility to increase market share, increase awareness, and meet corporate objectives. Citing a quote from from Ms. Preston’s article as voiced by Akhtar Badshah, senior director of community development with Microsoft, “we need to be careful about whether we’re looking at this as a revenue generator versus profit.”

Corporate giving programs can take various shapes and forms. What’s important is that businesses address their giving situations and assess the many ways a structured program can enhance their corporation both internally and externally.

Getting the most from personal and corporate giving

By Pete Parker

If you’ve read my blogs or consider me a friend or acquaintance, you quickly recognize that my passion lies within philanthropy…particularly building community strength. In a simple, single term, the word “giving” is central to the impact people can make within their communities (both locally and globally). And, while there are numerous definitions to this word, I personally view it as “growth”. Anyone, regardless of personal wealth, age, skill set, gender, physical condition, or cultural background, has the capacity to give time and/or dollar.

This particular blog addresses giving as it relates each of us as family and business leaders. The impact within the community is very similar, as are many of the benefits. The critical issue, quite frankly, are the many needs within our communities which need to be met…all driven at improving the quality of life of ourselves and our neighbors.

We can each give our time and/or financial resources for various reasons. Reasons can include:

  • Making a difference;
  • Greater community involvement;
  • Making new friends and connections;
  • Networking for business; creating leads;
  • Learn about community needs;
  • Generate corporate and community goodwill;
  • Set an example;
  • Follow the lead of those you admire;
  • Recruiting and retaining employees, staff leaders;
  • Support a personal passion;
  • Helping others;
  • Receive recognition;
  • Seeking greater reward.

The list goes on and on. Rarely do I hear that donations are made for tax purposes. Most significantly, it’s the care, compassion and kindness of others.

During my brief 20 years as a non-profit professional and community leader, I see and encourage giving on a regular basis. I am continually impressed by the kindness of others. My hope is that many more people and businesses within our communities get involved by playing greater roles as financial supporters and volunteers. Perhaps more importantly, is how the giving is done, so that donors…and the causes or organizations they support…receive the desired tangible and intangible benefits.

I enjoyed reading Carla E. Dearing’s blog “Beyond Giving”, where she feels “there are a number of potential donors who are waiting to be inspired or challenged to give. Donors and charities can work together to find creative, new approaches to communicating their work and motivate these would-be givers to become philanthropists in their own right.” I found that her words give hope for the organizations which immediately drive the quality of life in our communities.

I believe that businesses and individuals can influence the “greater good” by developing effective giving strategies to achieve their charitable, community-engaging and direct (personal/corporate) goals. And, while the process can be extremely simple or in-depth, costly or complimentary, wise and effective personal/corporate giving follows a strategy that aligns charitable giving activities with objectives, vision…and undoubtedly, impact.

Corporate Success Can Be Found Through Community, Citizenship

By Pete Parker

Running a business during these economic times has been and will continue to be extremely challenging. Whether it’s managing a large corporation or small business, today’s business leaders must change as the overall business environment changes.  While there doesn’t appear to an ideal formula for success, corporations are beginning to take greater stock in their local communities.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), is not a new term…although it’s beginning to generate greater traction. According to ecomii, “CSR is the concept that an organization has obligations not just to conduct its business and adhere to legal guidelines, but also to look out for the welfare of its employees, the community, and society at large.” Many businesses are making social responsibility a priority, not just to increase bottom lines, but because it’s the right thing to do.

According to a new report by the Conference Board, “a majority of the officials said their highest priority is to better align their company’s giving with its business needs.” Nearly half, for example, said they were placing more emphasis this year on tying giving to brand awareness and visibility.

Creating CSR strategies is becoming increasingly popular, but could also be costly for small businesses. Many, however, are creating corporate “citizenship” strategies, which focus on “creating higher standards of living and quality of life in the communities in which they operate, while still preserving profitability for stakeholders (Answers.com).” Businesses developing citizenship strategies have been focusing on corporate-to-community giving plans, predominantly centering on financial support and employee volunteerism. The Conference Board report also reflected on the importance of corporate volunteerism by revealing that nearly half of the companies plan to increase their efforts to get their empl0yees to volunteer.

As vital as they are to a corporation’s success, many businesses have yet to jump onto the citizenship bandwagon. Proof is found in the recently released 2010 Corporate Social Responsibility Perception Study, which queried the general public during February 2010. Interesting stats were found, including “only 11% of people received communications about CSR from any company in the past year.” However, it was also shared that “70% of respondents voiced willingness to pay more for products from socially-responsible companies.” Bringing things closer to the corporate family, “34% of employees would take a pay cut to work for a socially-responsible firm.”

As the business environment continues to change, the requirement for staying & succeeding in business is also changing. As a result, corporations (small and large) are emphasizing the maintenance of strategic relationship with society and, particularly, their local communities.

Pete Parker is a consultant working with charitable organizations, as well as individual and corporate donors, to design and manage successful philanthropic strategies.

Young leaders ready for community boards

By Pete Parker

It’s time to prepare our Generation X & Y counterparts for community leadership.

I’ve read recent blogs addressing young leadership and their roles or, lack thereof, on non-profit boards. In Emily Heard’s “Why Don’t More Members of Gens X and Y Join Boards”, she reminds us that only 2% of board members were aged 30 or younger according to Board Source’s Nonprofit Governance Index 2007 study. Various reasons for the lack of young board leadership were listed, most predominantly (in my opinion) was “skepticism about the need to have various generations on boards”.

I’m a Gen Xer who has served on no less than 10 boards over the past five years. Despite my relative lack of board experience, I can share that boards can certainly use an infusion of fresh leadership. Though the “freshness” does not necessarily need to relate to age, there are certainly advantages of recruiting young leaders, including:

  • Fresh perspectives
  • Ease in orienting, training and mentoring
  • Enthusiasm to serve on committees
  • Knowledge of the ever-advancing technology
  • Ability to network through social media channels
  • Connection to young future leaders

 They also possess the characteristic of caring. I have seen many board members (perhaps myself included) lose the interest and passion they once held for certain causes and organizations, yet remain on boards. New leaders, particularly young activists, can pick up the load once carried by active board members and move it and the organization forward.

I found the following statement in Rosetta Thurman’s blog, “Do Nonprofit Boards Really Want Younger Members” particularly insightful…“The “under 30” focus is really important to note because that age bracket encompasses all of Generation Y, the largest generational demographic behind the Baby Boomers at 80 million strong. Which means that there are a lot of young people out there who can be recruited for board service.”

It reminded me of the Meyer Foundation’s Ready to Lead report in 2008, which stated that “the nonprofit sector will undergo large-scale executive turnover in the near term and that it is uncertain if we have a workforce that is willing, prepared, and—not least of all—enthusiastically ready to assume leadership positions.” There are far more baby boomers than Gen Xers and Yers, potentially leaving a significant leadership void within our communities.

It is time to address the future strength, vision and impact of our community organizations. Thankfully, organizations such as the Points of Light Institute, HandsOn Network and local volunteer centers are in place and addressing community leadership on a daily basis.

Here in Northern Nevada, a solid group of leaders has chosen to propel the young leadership continuum forward. For the past two years, the Reno-Tahoe Young Professionals Network has focused its efforts on introducing young professionals to community and civic organizations. In fact, it launched a donor-funded campaign to educate and engage young leaders with organizations seeking key volunteers and board members. In its brief year of existence, The Pebble Project has linked 324 young professionals with 61 local community organizations.

The same organization has voted to start a board matching program, aimed at educating board members-to-be on all aspects of board leadership…and connecting each participant with a community organization.

These two projects are sure to ignite a spark of philanthropy in the Reno/Sparks area, creating a legacy of leadership for years to come.

I encourage organizational leaders (board and staff) to assess their leadership structures and personnel and seriously consider filling voids and creating opportunities for young leadership. We are eager to lead (especially if there’s direction), excited to serve and passionate about our communities. Plus, just imagine the skills we can learn and hone…then apply in our respective workplaces.

The future is here, the future is now.

 

Pete Parker is a consultant striving to enhance the level of philanthropy in communities.

Networking Presentation at Parasol

I gave another presentation on Networking this past Tuesday to roughly 70 non-profit leaders at the monthly Parasol Community Collaboration meeting. I was supposed to give a 40-minute presentation, but speaking to the captivated audience lasted one hour.

I wanted to focus on face-to-face (or traditional) networking, because I believe we, as non-profit leaders, are spending more time in our offices than out making connections and sharing our message. Case in point, the vast majority of those in the Parasol audience “network” at similar, non-profit-based activities, where they “connect” with NPO leaders and not nearby professional, philanthropic and social leaders.

Though I’m not a big fan of Powerpoint, I used it to aid my presentation. Reason being, is that I spent some time on social media. This ever-growing networking opportunity has progressed since my February presentation to another group of non-profit leaders. The file is attached to this blog if you want to download the powerpoint presentation. If you can’t find nor open it, email me and I’ll send one directly to you.

networkingpresentation-parasol-cover

networkingpresentation-parasol

Angel Kiss Foundation

 

I feel extraordinarily fortunate. I have a job, live in a nice home in a great city, share experiences with amazing people and am flexible enough to keep fit and donate my time to the community. Most importantly, I am the father of two very special children. They certainly got the best of their parent’s best attributes…intelligence (at least their mother’s!), courteous, caring, self-sufficient, athletic and healthy. Words cannot truly validate how fortunate we all are.

However, there are many children who are battling obstacles of varying natures and degrees. When I was executive director of the American Heart Association, I saw this on a daily basis…fighting to raise money to fund research. In my current role as Board President of the Angel Kiss Foundation, I learn of stories and family needs regularly. In my opinion, need is need and no dollar amount can truly be affixed to each family’s situation. They’re all scary, difficult and uncertain. What’s nice is that there’s hope.

The Angel Kiss Foundation, a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation, exists to provide funding and emotional support to families caring for children fighting cancer. We consider each of our “clients” as members of our own family, because we work together to provide support to each family.

Since our families travel to northern California for treatment, they’re forced to cover unexpected travel, lodging, meal and other costs. At the same time, they’re forced to take care of matters relating to their employment, schools, bills…everyday stuff. Having the Angel Kiss Foundation as a resource, our families can place a greater amount of focus on what’s really important…their children.

This summer marks my third year on the board. During that time, we’ve helped over 100 families and provided nearly $300,000 in financial assistance (overall: 211 families with $615,000). But, this is just the beginning. Despite the tough economy, our board is steadfast in our quest to increase our funding as much as we can. Angel Kiss is able to provide funding to families as a result of its own funding initiatives. These include annual giving, grantwriting and event fundraising.

Our annual event, now known as Angel Kiss’s Paddle for Pediatric Cancer is scheduled for Saturday, June 20 at Wingfield Park, located in downtown Reno. This unique event begins with a river rafting experience, where nearly 200 people will navigate in single, 2-man, 4-man and 8-man rafts along a 2.2 mile stretch of the Truckee River. Many dress in theme…all with special team names…and enjoy a non-competitive “race” experience. Upon arrival, the rafters and the entire community will enjoy a music festival featuring five live, local bands. Tantalizing their taste buds will be food provided by local vendors…at no cost to Angel Kiss. Guests may also visit our Garden of Hope, where they can participate in an auction and walk away with a handmade flower. All in all, it’s a great family experience and open to the entire community.

We’ve created a new giving vehicle this year and we’re calling it a Paddle-a-Thon. Similar to team pages associated with other organizations like Heart, Leukemia and others, individuals and raft teams…anyone…can create giving pages to help raise funds. I’ve created one and am reaching out to family and friends to help raise $1,000. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it represents roughly four months of support to one of our families. To me, that’s a great amount of support. I would love to actually raise $3,000 to reach one year’s worth of support.

If you’re reading this, I encourage you to reach out to Angel Kiss Foundation and offer support…whether it’s as a volunteer, donor or festival participant. You’re certainly invited to contribute to Angel Kiss through my team page (seen below).

If you just want to have fun on a nice, warm Saturday afternoon (it’s the Summer Solstice!), just head downtown to our big party. We’ll welcome you with a smile, just as we’ll do with the other 1,000 people in attendance.

Lastly, if you’re the parent of a young person who’s being treated for cancer in Northern Nevada and their eastern Sierras, call the Angel Kiss Foundation today. We provide support to all families who have children in treatment…we don’t discriminate.

Here’s our contact information…

Angel Kiss Foundation

www.angelkissfoundation.org

Facebook

775-323-7721

Volunteerism…A Great Sport

Originally posted on 5/15/09 at http://parkerdevelopment.wordpress.com/2009/05/15/volunteerism-a-great-sport/.

Volunteerism…A Great Sport

I’m a sports fanatic, so am continually looking at the benefits of teamwork, strategy and “sports”manship and comparing it to the non-profit community. To me, there are a ton of similarities. The biggest, in my opinion, can be teamwork. Assembling a group of people, perhaps from varying segments of society, together to focus on a single goal can be extremely fun and effective.
 
This week alone, I’ve presented the topic of volunteerism to three different groups of people. In all, I spoke to over 100 new “friends” on a topic very close to my heart…a topic which directly answers community concerns. The energy I get from preparing these presentations, I hope, is obvious when I share my message.

 

Volunteerism, particularly to a newbie, can be tough to approach, thus intimidating. There are many people who say they want to volunteer, but have a hard time stepping outside their comfort zone and offering the help. There are others who have no problem offering, but have a tough time finding an organization that fits them. Don’t get disgruntled…you’re wanted and needed!

 

In a presentation to 25 young professional women, I equated finding the right volunteer opportunity or organization for them, to dating. “Sometimes you need to weed through the crap before you find the one”, was my exact statement. Thankfully, I didn’t scare any of them away. The fact remains, the beauty behind this path is that you learn a great deal, so when you find a suitable organization, the puzzle piece fits even better.

 

Having been a volunteer for over half my life (yes, I’m an X’er), I’m still trying to find my way through many volunteer opportunities. Perhaps I serve too much, but it’s an incredibly special and huge part of my life. Thinking about it today at a volunteer workshop, I guesstimated that I work an average 75 hours a week and serve an additional 40-50; the rest is applied to my kids, running and sleeping (hardly). That’s MY balance; which I truly value, cherish and accept.

 

Living in Reno, Nevada, I find that volunteerism is lower than allowable. Digging around a bit, I learned that the state of Nevada ranks last in volunteerism at a 17.7% rate…thanks only to 25% of residents in Reno/Sparks. Even then, only 26.2% of our nation’s residents volunteer their time. I’m not satisfied …shouldn’t we all try to do something? Sure, perhaps it’s our tracking mechanism, of which can be challenged (and improved), but it’s an indication that we can do more.

 

Generally speaking, communities do not have efforts embracing volunteer matching or introductions. There are many volunteer centers, but most manage more than seek. When you have a large community need to recruit key volunteers, yet no mechanism in place to meet the need, nothing happens. This can easily lead to board stagnation and apathy, organizational breakdown or misdirection and loss of beneficiary impact.

 

I’m always asked why someone would volunteer. Though the list is long, here’s a basic summary:

  • Help others
  • Make a difference
  • Find purpose
  • Enjoy a meaningful conversation
  • Connect with your community
  • Find purpose
  • Enjoy a meaningful conversation
  • Connect with your community
  • Feel involved
  • Contribute to a cause that you care about
  • Use your skills in a productive way
  • Develop new skills
  • Promote your business
  • Meet new people
  • Explore new areas of interest
  • Meet good people
  • Learn how to interact with others
  • Impress your mom
  • Impress yourself
  • Expand your horizons
  • Help find a new job or career
  • Get out of the house
  • Make new friends
  • Strengthen your resume
  • Feel better about yourself
  • Develop business leads

 

I admit that I found this list…and added a few, but my personal favorite isn’t on there. I love my community, wherever that community happens to be. Right now, it’s in Northern Nevada. Regardless, the ultimate reason I volunteer is to see a smile. Might sound hokey to some, but if someone’s hoisting a smile, it likely means that the person is enjoying the moment and/or quite possibly has a job, home, healthy diet, circle of family and friends, and positive outlook. That’s all it takes for me.

 

I’m also frequently asked how someone can volunteer their time. While it seems easy (and it is), it can be unnerving. I usually dig deeper and ask about their interests, skill sets, passions, family histories, wishes and time availability. From here, I can usually identify a handful of organizations and volunteer roles they can pursue. As you can imagine, I’m actively seeking volunteer opportunities for a handful of people as we speak. Fortunately, I have a set of criteria with which to work. With over 2,000 non-profit organizations in Northern Nevada, this can prove to be quite a search.

 

Naturally, I point everyone to www.volunteermatch.org as a starting point. In some areas, like Northern California, VolunteerMatch is a huge resource. As for Northern Nevada, we’re just getting it built (but keep checking!). Another source of information can come through friends, family, employers, co-workers, media; heck, the nearby grocery clerk. If this doesn’t work, they can always contact me. I’ll drop everything to make a connection. Hooking the right person with the right organization can really be another gift that keeps giving!

 

If you’re looking for your first or next volunteer opportunity, check your local volunteer center, go to VolunteerMatch or simply contact me. Volunteerism is a ton of fun and provides tremendous value to you and the organization or, more importantly, the end beneficiary.

 

 

 

Networking for Non-Profit Success

 

Originally posted on 2/20/09 at http://parkerdevelopment.wordpress.com/2009/02/20/networking-for…profit-success/.

 

 

 

 

Networking for Non-Profit Success

 
 
I was asked a few weeks ago by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (Northern Nevada Chapter) to be the presenting speaker at the February luncheon. After a good laugh, I asked about the subject matter. The response was Networking. After another good laugh, I accepted…on a condition (we’ll get to that).
 
 
 
 
 
 
Now, I love to network. With each person I meet or get connected to, a new possibility or opportunity emerges. Because I’m on a personal (and now, professional) mission to enhance the level of philanthropy and community action in our community, I’m constantly participating in networking activities. However, difficulties arose when I began to prepare for my presentation.
 
 
I tend to put all my effort into everything I do, whether it relates to a client, a volunteer activity or program or my friends and family. So, when I began to think about my presentation, considerable stress insued. See, networking is all about connecting with others, sharing stories and creating opportunities. This is just as important for the corporate sector as it is the non-profit community. Problem is, I was limited to time on a subject that I absolutely love and find incredibly valuable.
 
I spearheaded my research by sending a survey to all those on the local AFP mailing list. I was curious to see if my hunches were correct. These included:

  • very few non-profit leaders actively participate in network opportunities, particularly those of the “traditional” sense
  • very few non-profit executives knew about social media
  • many non-profit professionals were hesitant to participate in both

 

It was a very simple survey and only completed by 30% of our membership, but it proved my thoughts.  If you’re interested, here’s the link to the survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=VBd1q7956Y9WzFg9dTY1UQ_3d_3d. In fact, go ahead and complete it (90 seconds of your life). I’ll present the results soon.

Since they asked me, one of their own, to present on networking, I was destined to provide considerable information, as opposed to making it an open forum for Q & A. I did, however, conduct a “speed networking” exercise (my original demand).

This was required for three specific reasons. First, networking can be a bit frightening if you either don’t know how to start a conversation or are afraid to step outside your “comfort zone.” Second, I only see four or five other non-profit professionals on the local networking circuit. While this benefits the small group of us, it doesn’t speak well to our local non-profit community. And lastly, NPOs can easily apply the method, internally, at donor receptions, volunteer trainings and new staff orientations. I think the exercise went well.

I allocated half of my presentation on “traditional” networking, as just described, as well as social media. I’ve been using social media for some time now, but was amazed at the amount of information regarding social networking. Holy cow did I find a lot. Making matters worse (and stress), I couldn’t stop researching the topic.

I hadn’t planned on using Powerpoint with my presentation but, since I’m a stat and info freak, I decided to use it. I prefer speaking, person to person (individual and group), rather than using a display. I prefer eyes on me and for people to truly listen to me almost as much as I listen to them. I think using Powerpoint was very effective, given that most people in the room hadn’t seen any social media stats.

Rather than going into great detail about the networking presentation, take a look at it for yourself.

networkingpresentation-mini

It’s also located on my website at  http://www.npcatalyst.com/networkingpresentation-mini.ppt. If it doesn’t load properly, then drop me an email at petep (at) npcatalyst.com.

Make it a great day.

Charities can succeed during tough economic times

Originally posted on 12/8/08 at http://parkerdevelopment.wordpress.com/2008/12/08/charities-can-…economic-times/.

 

 

Charities can succeed during tough economic times

 

We find ourselves in the middle of very interesting and uncertain economic times. As with many businesses, the sluggish economy is showing its effects on the non-profit sector. Americans donated $306.4-billion in 2007, but fund raising is encountering challenges, especially as the auto, housing and financial-services industries continue to crumble, food costs rise, and the stock market’s volatility strains individuals and businesses.

 

Charitable organizations are beginning to report figures that are short of goals, many of which are due to delayed, reduced or discontinued contributions. Donors are keeping closer eyes on their financial portfolios and less about charitable giving.

 

Non-profit organizations are responding in different ways. A fair number are playing the “safe” card and maintaining a status-quo approach until the swells taper. Others are cutting staff, beginning with fundraising and marketing officers. Unfortunately, these organizations fail to see the opportunity that lies beneath the layer of uncertainty.

 

Despite these economic uncertainties non-profit leaders may want to consider taking closer looks at their organizations and acting proactively. The answers to organizational success may be closer than they think. Here are a few suggestions to inspire thought and action to steer organizations in the right direction.

 

Reach out to leadership. It’s vital that organizations be led by strong leaders. This person or group of people will guide charitable organizations through a clear plan, which includes enhancing the board, integrating comprehensive marketing and fundraising strategies and focusing on funding opportunities.

 

Enhance the level of board involvement. Make it a point to share information and invite increased participation from the organization’s board of directions. The board should become more of a resource and help increase giving and create opportunities.

 

Continue managing annual and major giving campaigns. The important thing is to keep on task and continue managing major gift cultivation and fundraising. When the recession ends, these organizations will be further ahead of the curve than most others.

 

Build strong relationships with donors. Whether they’re past or current donors, take some time to truly cultivate their financial and voluntary participation. These people will be ready to step to the plate when they’re financially ready. Don’t lose sight on regularly seeking new supporters.

 

Plan for donors to be savvy about giving and the use of their funds. Accountability will be the watchword and the use and impact of donations will be regularly reviewed. Many will be more strategic with their giving, thus guiding them to create structured giving plans and develop relationships with targeted organizations.

 

Communicate regularly. Keep constituents informed of the organization’s health, programs and needs. Use both traditional and the growing social media avenues to share news, invite participation, and challenge the interest and involvement of constituents.

 

By making the right choices, such as reinforcing core values and mission, personally connecting with contributors and leveraging new opportunities, success can be achieved. Simply “playing it safe” could easily create more harm, thus distancing organizations further away from their missions. Moving forward, organizational leaders may want to consider the following questions…and more:

  • Are there ways to improve operations?
  • What is the state of our finances, including investments?
  • Which programs/activities truly connect to your mission?
  • How are these programs/activities managed and assessed?
  • Are we managing our most important relationships?
  • Are we involving our board members and using them appropriately?

 

How often do we connect with our funders?  

 

We can do it! Organizational leaders have an opportunity to publicly show the strength of the non-profit community. Making a difference in our communities is an incredible profession. Whether we’re leading organizations, raising funds or managing programs, serving our community is incredibly meaningful experience. Though times are scary, our obligation is to maintain positive frames of mind and show our strengths. This requires tapping into the basics of non-profit management, working harder and building relationships.