Habits of highly effective giving

 

Like in business, charitable organizations require revenue to not only exist, but to provide support, growth, and opportunity to the beneficiaries they serve.

Billions of dollars are contributed to organizations each year. Some donors may question is this enough or is their contribution needed? However, the more appropriate questions might be “Am I giving to the right organization” and “How effective is my donation”? The answers lie within each donor’s personal path to philanthropy.

For the most part, when donors make a charitable donation, they want to know that they are giving to a good thing and that the money will be used the right way. But, how do donors know this? How can they be assured or satisfied that their donations will be well spent? In our opinion, effectiveness equals donor satisfaction combined with impact and utilization of each gift.

No matter the size of the donation or from whom it is being contributed (business, foundation or community resident), here are our habits of highly effective giving.

Identify the ideal organization

When looking for the right organization to support, start by taking a good look at your interests, connections, goals, and influences. These will help narrow the list of local, national, or global organizations from which to select the one(s) you’ll eventually support. If you need help, contact a nearby leader (such as NPcatalyst), who has access to multiple directories.

Understand the organization’s needs

When you have narrowed the search, take a good look at each organization’s reason for existence, mission, programs, and goals. As you do this, you’ll become more familiar with the organization and, more importantly, identify and understand their needs. If you’re having a difficult time identifying their need for donor and volunteer support, give them a phone call or send an email.

Assess the organization

A critical step of the process is analyzing each organization’s operations and performance. This is where you determine the soundness of their best practices. Be sure to assess the percentage of funds being allocated to programs or services; take a look at the strength of their leadership; and check to see if their policies, procedures, and management practices are up to par. If you would like assistance, contact companies like NPcatalyst, which analyze and rate charities on a regular basis.

Establish a relationship

There’s no finer way to understand an organization than by direct contact. This can be accomplished by sending an email or calling a staff or board member to ask questions, request a meeting, register for a special event, or offer to volunteer. As in business sales, the ideal “transactions” take place as a result of mutually-beneficial relationships. It is a great way to watch the effect of your donation.

Leverage the contribution

Once you have made the donation(s), the fun does not need to end there. No matter the size of the gift, sharing your goodwill should help compel others to duplicate your act of kindness, as well as create greater awareness of the organization. For businesses, it is a great way to illustrate a business’s role in community growth, not to mention its effect in generating new business. By simply updating your “status” via social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) or sending a press release to media or mailing a letter to friends, there is a good chance your gift will keep giving.

Measure the contribution

Similar to assessing the organization (Habit #3), be sure to confirm how the money was allocated within the organization. Whether the contribution was unrestricted or restricted (given for a specific purpose), it is vital that you recognize that the donation was distributed toward its intended purpose.

The significance of each charitable donation is escalated when a donor has a deep understanding of the cause, the organization, and the program(s) being supported. In a very similar approach to building personal relationships, the more familiar a donor is to the beneficiary of the contribution, the more significant and rewarding the gift.

If you have not applied these habits to past contributions, imagine how your giving could have been different. By applying these habits, your future donations will have far greater impact, making your community, country, and world a better place.

 

Board Retreats – Do they need advanced planning?

Strong organizations are governed by outstanding leaders. Fueled with passion, experience, and commitment, the board members of non-profit organizations play vital roles in the direction, management and impact of these groups.

The strength of this leadership…and engagement…isn’t always immediately felt upon creating the board or recruiting the new board member. As with many great things, the strength of the board is developed over time, through active involvement, and organizational understanding. One proven method to mature leadership and, at the same time, create organizational opportunity is by conducting annual board retreats.

Board retreats are integral to each non-profit organization’s success. They present opportunities to plan for the future by blending the vast amount of leadership, experience, skills, and ideas of the board’s members. As a result, organizations run more smoothly, where board members are more connected, and the interpersonal relationships of board and staff are strong.

Retreats serve as great “starts” or re-freshers for both organizations and their leaders. The most successful retreats…those which set the stage for future success…follow four key steps.
1. Planning – defining the purpose; planning meetings; self-assessment; presentation materials
2. Engagement – clear agenda; board “buy in”; interactive and fun
3. Strategy – creating goals and action steps; measurable results
4. Follow-Through – developed through committee meetings; presented/reviewed at board meetings

A successful retreat hinges on the work of a well-focused team (board and staff), an interested and skilled facilitator, and a proactive agenda. Its success relies on the “buy in” and active involvement of its board members. This enables the board to openly challenge assumptions, address issues, foster interpersonal relationships, improve productivity, understand and clearly represent the mission/message, and develop strategies.

Have you scheduled your next board retreat? Whether it’s to address your organization’s board development, mission/vision, messaging/public relations, fund development, and/or strategic planning, now is the time to invest in your non-profit’s future.

Charitable Giving…A Wise Investment

As business leaders, we’re often asked to donate to charity. Whether it’s in the form of personal contributions, direct corporate giving or corporate sponsorship, we receive requests on a regular basis.

Having served the non-profit sector for 25 years, I’m continually involved with corporate giving, either as a business owner or charitable volunteer. I’m frequently asked why businesses are called upon as often as they are. What I’ve grown to understand are two primary reasons:
1. Business leaders have direct access to marketing, advertising and charitable budget line items.
2. Business leaders understand non-profits and, in many cases, serve on non-profit boards.

There are many reasons why corporate leaders invest in charitable organizations. Businesses have an opportunity to make a difference and a dollar. Strong corporations invest in not-for-profit efforts to:

  • recognize and celebrate its corporate values
  • emphasize the importance of ethical business practices
  • provide positive public relations
  • build customer confidence
  • enhance employee morale
  • maintain philanthropic goodwill
  • increase sales leads and transactions
  • strengthen the community
  • And, of course, it’s the right thing to do.

All of this points to responsibility…a responsibility of businesses to increase revenues and a responsibility to help others.

Positioning corporate giving to be effective for both the business and the supported organizations is not a difficult process. It can be easily blended with existing marketing strategies or function separately from existing plans. Regardless of its official capacity within your business, here are suggestions to maximize your corporate giving.

  1. Assess current giving. Take a good, hard look at your past and current giving practices. What percentage of pre-tax profits is allocated for charitable pursuits? Review the organizations, purposes and methods of giving; then evaluate the benefits received. Can you identify a relationship to your corporate mission, marketing plan and staff connections?
  2. Design a strategy. As you plan your giving, consider your charitable budget. Identify the projects, organizations or sectors you wish to support. Determine the benefits, particularly outreach, sales leads, visibility and impact you wish to gain.
  3. Monitor contributions. Maintain relationships with the beneficiaries of your charitable investment to ensure proper delivery of benefits, use of funds and public awareness.
  4. Assess and plan. Evaluate the effectiveness of the giving strategy and its execution. Make changes, design a new strategy, identify new beneficiaries; all are actions you will likely address to strengthen your charitable giving plan.

Corporate leaders recognize the difficulty in giving away money, particularly marked by a lack of information, guidance and tools required to make wise decisions. Being able to identify the best for-profit investments is a hugely valuable talent and a massive industry has grown up around it. Solid nonprofit analysis is just as valuable.

No matter what strategy you use to make your charitable giving decisions, it makes good business sense to ensure effectiveness, both to the beneficiary and your corporation. A properly executed giving program will generate tremendous value through community impact and revenue generation.

We’ve designed a career solutions company

In a partnership formed Pete (our managing partner) and two other corporate and philanthropic leaders, a new career solutions company was created. Greek Ladders is a resource for college students seeking information and connections to properly launch their careers. Simultaneously, businesses and charities leverage the Greek Ladders network to identify ideal candidates for their internship and full-time employment openings.

Creating the company was in response to several factors. The common theme among recent graduates is the disadvantage they’re at slide-greekladders-sitewhen searching for full-time employment. Students have dedicated their college years to preparing for meaningful careers by focusing on academics. By the time they decide to look for a job, many others have beat them to the punch. Factor in extraordinarily high unemployment rates, recent graduates face competition for jobs from those with greater experience and measurable performances, most of whom require less training. It’s possible that these same students may also have waited until graduation or some point during their senior years to begin their job searches. This really puts them behind the curve, further decreasing the likelihood of obtaining their ideal job in a timely manner.

Recognizing these issues, three corporate and non-profit leaders sharing a strong affinity to the Greek System, joined forces to create a solution. The primary goal – to create an opportunity for students to interface with employers, and vice-versa, as a vehicle to give Greeks a “leg up” in the employment recruitment process. Beyond the connection, the partners are adding leadership/career development training resources and strategic partners to essentially coach the students, guiding them toward successful interactions, interviews, and job performance.

The vision for Greek Ladders is simple – facilitate outstanding and mutually-beneficial relationships between students and employers.

Greek Ladders features a website, where job-seekers (primarily students, but also alumni and parents)  and employers (non-profits, businesses) make connections. Its career network highlights hundreds of student and employer profiles, as well as full-time and internship job postings. Students manage their own profiles containing their resumes, academic information, chapter and campus involvement, career objectives, and more for employers to become familiar with prospective employment candidates.

The Greek Ladders network, which is free for job-seekers, features leadership development and career preparation resources. Taking the form of webinars, videos, podcasts, and tutorials, these resources can be utilized by our members to enhance their profiles and learn new skills, thus making us more appealing to prospective employers.

For employers, Greek Ladders provides advantages over other similar companies, like Monster and Career Builder. Employers are directly linked to applicants in a specialized setting. In fact, employers leverage the partnership to essentially take all of today’s college students and siphon them into a single pool (or network) of outstanding potential candidates. One step further, these applicants are qualified, given their aptitude of social, leadership, and organizational skills and activity within the Greek Ladders network. Basic employer registration into the network is free.

If you’re curious about joining the Greek Ladders network as a student or employer, these links should provide you with plenty of information:

In addition, you may send an email to info@greekladders.com or call  775-333-9444 .

100 most influential leaders recognized this Friday

We’re excited to attend an event this Friday at the Atlantis Resort Casino, where 100 of the most influential people in Reno/Sparks will be recognized by Plum Influence Magazine.

Celebrate the courage and character of Reno with the 100 most influential people of our region.

The event recognizes leaders in the following categories:

  • Super Heroes
  • Business Owners & Industry Experts
  • Community Leaders
  • Foodies
  • Extraordinary neighbors
  • Charity Drivers
  • Artists and Icons
  • Scientists
  • Savvy Techs
  • Risk Takers and Visionaries

There are ten people within the ten different categories which make up the full list of 100 and only one of them will be awarded as the top influencer within their category.

We’ll be there to support our own Pete Parker and network with his fellow “most influential” leaders in our area. We encourage other to also buy a table and attend what expects to be an incredible networking opportunity, but also a showcase of everything positive in northern Nevada.
 

Here’s a link to see the Full Plum100 Listhttp://issuu.com/pluminfluencemagazine_reno/docs/plum100

Nevada Matters featured Plum 100 and their event on a recent radio show. Click here to listen to the 30-minute show.
 
 
Event Details
  • Plum100, The100 Most Influential People of Reno/Tahoe
  • Plum Influence Magazine
  • Friday, September 28, 2012 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM (PDT)
  • Atlantis Resort Casino, Reno, NV

See you there!

 

Each credit card swipe earns money for charities

Local merchant solutions provider, MerchantsXL, has launched an innovative credit card processing program to save businesses money and, at the same time, generate new income for local non-profit organizations.

The new program, called Give Back to Reno, was launched as a unique program blending charitable needs with smart business strategies to leverage a win-win solution for the Northern Nevada region. Designed by NPcatalyst, a Reno-based philanthropic solutions firm, the program works with local businesses to lower the fees associated with credit card transactions. MerchantsXL then directs funds to local charities.

“When we created MerchantsXL in 2010, our primary goal was to turn our entrepreneurial spirit into community leadership, says Cole Bevel, the company’s Managing Partner. “We created a program that does not force anyone to come out of pocket to generate outstanding financial support for the organizations which strive to make our community stronger every day.”

The way it works is relatively simple. Customer uses a credit card to make a purchase; merchant then swipes the card to process a payment; and, a portion of the payment goes to a select non-profit organization. “the concept is innovative and works seamlessly for everyone involved. We’re delighted by the results”, claims Jeff Lenardson, who is also managing partner of MerchantsXL.

To learn more about the “Give Back to Reno” program, business and non-profit leaders are encouraged to visit www.GiveBacktoReno.com. In mere minutes, businesses can realize the savings and non-profits can begin generating new dollars. MerchantsXL executives can also be contacted directly at 775-636-6529 and cbevel@merchantsxl.com.

NPcatalyst adds client to bolster business and nonprofit growth

     

We’re ecstatic to announce the addition of Viking Capital Management to the NPcatalyst family of corporate clients. Based in Westlake Village, California, Viking offers its clients the utmost in service, cash flow, and cost saving solutions. The NPcatalyst team is providing creative strategies and active management services for the company’s Viking Cares program.

The goal of company’s Viking Cares program is to implement a stream of continual income to deserving charitable organizations. “Viking Cares allows businesses to support their favorite charities through an innovative giving platform, which won’t adversely affect their bottom line”, according to Pete Parker, managing partner of NPcatalyst. “It’s a great fit to our mission of connecting donors and leaders to charities through innovative synergy”.

The Viking Cares process is simple and everyone wins. Every time that a business accepts a credit card from a customer, a sales representative gets paid a commission. In most cases this commission is 50% of net fees.  Through Viking Cares, the company will match each client’s current credit card rates and fees penny for penny but re‐direct the funds that are generally paid as a commission every month to the charity of its choice. This passive charitable donation will continue as long as each client continues to process with Viking.  It’s that simple.

“Businesses can increase their philanthropic endeavors with no advertising out of pocket expense; and every time a credit card is used, our partner charities or local schools will benefit”, says Gregory Augustine, partner of Viking Capital Company. “Simply coined, it’s passive to business, perpetual to charity”.

To learn more about how Viking’s services can benefit businesses and charities, please visit…

Additional information can be gathered by calling 949-355-5145. You can also call us at NPcatalyst, as we’re happy to answer any questions. We can be reached at info@NPcatalyst.com and 775-333-9444.

Meeting the needs of local philanthropy

NPcatalyst was created and designed to meet the needs of philanthropy in local communities. The company spawned from a consulting firm, Parker Development Services, which worked with select non-profit organizations on their fund development models. To follow a strong desire to help many charities and, at the same time, help businesses and individuals become more strategic with their giving, we decided to re-brand ourselves.

A short ten months later, we’ve worked to address the needs of hundreds of non-profit organizations and community events. This occurred by managing projects like KOLOCares, which designs media partnerships to promote community and charitable events; Blue Moon Promotions’ One Community grant program, which awarded $20,000 to four organizations after analyzing the needs of many grant requests; and, Summer Of Service, which promoted volunteerism by linking community residents with volunteer opportunities at non-profit organizations.

Rather than fit a specific mold, the essence of the company was sculpted to offer innovative solutions to its clients so that, through these relationships, it could meet the ever-changing needs of local communities. “With relatively no direct competition, we’re seeing the greatest competition come from misunderstanding…where businesses don’t immediately recognize that they can generate business by effectively supporting local charities,” says Pete Parker, NPcatalyst’s managing partner. “We’re also hearing that we’re “ahead of our time” by thinking out of the box and offering innovative solutions in the charitable landscape, which has traditionally focused solely on the “check-writing” way of making donations.”

While the root of NPcatalyst’s operations and performance is earthed in strong relationships and communications, the firm recognizes that charitable support can be generated in other forms. In fact, the “success model” the firm designed five months ago has naturally morphed into a service model identifying the ways it’s working to meet the needs of today’s charitable organizations and local businesses.

The model illustrates the firm’s desire to service both non-profit organizations and local businesses, separately. The firm also found a niche in creating solutions which connects charitable organizations and potential supporters by designing mutually-beneficial partnerships or collaborations which, ultimately, benefit the larger communities.

Recently, NPcatalyst launched its Community Catalyst program, which features a charitable fund designed for small businesses. Through the Fund, businesses with annual revenues below $500,000 can pool their funds together to make significant, meaningful contributions to specific needs as identified by local charitable organizations. “Now that businesses which might only be able to donate $250 each quarter, can connect with other small business owners to contribute an amount exponentially greater,” according to Parker. “Not only are we creating opportunities for businesses to amplify their donation power, we’re creating new relationships between local businesses, potential customers, and the area’s charities.”

As the holiday season approaches, NPcatalyst is working on two new innovative projects aimed at generating funds for local charities. One project provides donors with specific information relating to their contributions, enabling them to know exactly how their donations will be used and what they’ll pay for. The other connects non-profits with local merchants to increase spending at the businesses and, in turn, drive income directly to specific charities.

“The heart of NPcatalyst is to drive dollars and leaders to charitable organizations…period,” says Parker.

Businesses and non-profit organizations seeking opportunities to ignite growth and financial impact are invited to contact NPcatalyst at 775-333-9444 and info@npcatalyst.com.

Community Catalyst Charitable Fund launched

For immediate release

 

Small businesses to make large community splash

 

RENO – In an effort to stimulate the local economy and meet vital community needs, Reno-based NPcatalyst has created the Community Catalyst Charitable Fund for small businesses. Companies with annual revenues less than $500,000 will bind together to meet specific charitable initiatives and programs. The goal is to contribute $10,000 or more to local non-profit organizations each quarter.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local community”, says Pete Parker, Managing Partner of NPcatalyst, “on their own, they might not be able to make significant and community-enriching contributions.” The unique giving fund provides small business leaders with a greater understanding of non-profit organizations and their specific needs, strength in numbers to meet those needs, and considerable public relations.

Management of the Community Catalyst Charitable Fund will be handled by NPcatalyst, which will track the contributions, measure the allocations, educate the small business participants of community opportunities, and promote to generate exceptional public awareness of the needs and their fund’s participants. The firm is collaborating with the Community Foundation of Western Nevada, which will accept and invest all contributions, thus providing businesses professional management and care of their donated funds. Based upon a vote of all participating businesses, the Community Foundation will process the distribution of contributed funds each quarter.

NPcatalyst is utilizing a 1% of annual revenue giving model to help businesses determine a target amount with which to contribute. The idea is to help local business become strategic with their giving practices. According to Parker, “our goal is to not only provide incredible community impact, but to develop new community leaders, and ignite revenue growth with each of our giving fund participants”.  

To register or inquire about additional information, contact NPcatalyst at 775-333-9444 or info@npcatalyst.com.

 

CLICK HERE to learn more

1% – small number, big community impact

 

Generosity helps solve problems, by creating opportunities to do things in new ways, for the greater good. We want to celebrate generosity, so that more people will support the causes they care about and the organizations which carry out the great work…and feel satisfied about doing it.

We believe that philanthropy is driven by the power of collective action to create lasting change. By making donating money easy and exciting, creating ways for businesses to contribute effectively, and amplifying impact through collective giving, NPcatalyst is actively creating innovative and empowering ways to enhance the community.

A company’s decision about how much to give for charitable and community purposes can be influenced by its annual profit levels, long-term strategic giving goals, business priorities, and a host of other factors. Some companies target a specific percentage of their pre-tax earnings to donate each year; others do not. Some try to give the same percentage of their pre-tax earnings to charity each year, while others vary the percentage year by year.

NPcatalyst is encouraging businesses to contribute just one percent of their annual revenue. While many businesses may prefer to contribute more, we believe this is a good start. Through our active participation, we are committed to spurring innovation in philanthropy, the non-profit sector, and the problems they aim to solve.

There are popular 1%-oriented programs available to the greater public…for the arts, for the environment, etc. At NPcatalyst, we’re simply interested in 1%, in general, encouraging businesses to choose the sector and organization they wish to support.

If you’re a business leader who’s interested in becoming more strategic about corporate giving, perhaps contributing 1% of your business’s annual revenue, give us a call. In fact, contact us if you’ve already given 1%…you never know, we might be interested in promoting your community leadership in effective and innovative ways.

We can be found at www.NPcatalyst.com, info@NPcatalyst.com, and 775-333-9444.