Tag Archives: community-benefit

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.


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.

Things you should know about year-end giving

The final two months of the calendar year can provide a significant amount of support for charitable organizations, if leveraged properly. Through working with many non-profit organizations, coupled with extensive research, we strong believe in the power of the Season of Giving.

Let the following statistics state our case.

  • The average total amount holiday givers plan to donate is $281.
  • 22% of donors will contribute to just one organization
  • 55% of donors will spread their contributions across two to three organizations
  • 23% of donors will give to four or more nonprofit groups.
  • Two-thirds plan to donate the same amount as last year, and 12% plan to increase their contributions this holiday season.

If that’s not enough, enjoy these statistics:

  • Between 35%-42% of online giving happens in November and December.
  • About 40% of online gifts are made in December.
  • For many charities, giving in December brings in about 1/3 of the fundraising dollars.
  • Online giving happens largely between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.
  • Online giving (by dollars) on December 31 is concentrated between 10a.m. and 6 p.m. in each time zone.
  • For many organizations, more than 20% of all giving for the entire year occurs in the last 48 hours of the calendar year.

Have you implemented your year-end giving strategy? Do you have one?

Campaigns we help design can see benefits in three primary areas:

  • You can raise a little or a lot – either way, it provides new funding
  • Each non-profit is different – varying sizes, varying needs, varying degrees of public presence, varying depths of constituencies
  • Roughly 40% of all giving comes in during month of December


  • Solid year-end campaign can create a lot of exposure
  • Local media can play a key role. In most communities, local newspapers, radio stations, and tv networks actively seek ‘feel good’ and ‘community inspiring’ stories
  • Social media creates increasing connections and relationships
  • Email marketing remains a strong tool to engage your existing database of constituents

New supporters

  • In the form of new donors and volunteers, a public relations campaign can lure in new batch of supporters
  • Recruits people who were unfamiliar with the organization
  • Gives your development team a great source of new leads to prospect

If you don’t have a year-end giving strategy, contact us right away. Though we’re just weeks away from the new year, it’s not too late to maximize the opportunity.


Fundraising webinar for non-profit board members


At the root of effective fund development is the identification, cultivation, and solicitation of prospective contributors. This simple process affects all areas of each community-benefit (or non-profit) organization and, when properly managed, creates incredible effects on the organization’s growth, sustainability, and beneficiary impact.

In the hundreds of board meetings which NPcatalyst leaders have facilitated, participated, or simply visited as a guest, there’s been one overwhelming topic address – fundraising. In most cases, the question of “how do we (or where do we) raise more funds?” has been raised. Typical answers are special events, direct mail, and grantwriting. Very seldom do boards discuss relationship building and, more specifically, the board’s role in facilitating new donor relationships.

On Tuesday, September 27, we will be conducting a webinar on the role of board members in the donor solicitation process. The training session is designed for all board members, and will be great for executive directors, development staff, and marketing/public relations staff. The presentation will include tips related to:

  • How to identify prospective donors
  • How to address potential supporters
  • What to say when you have their attention
  • How to properly represent the organization
  • How to gather and record information
  • The interaction with staff members

We’ll even spend a moment on how to raise funds without “making the ask”.

But wait…there’s more. We’ll give each webinar participant copies of documents we regularly use to identify, cultivate, and solicit major gifts.

Here are the webinar details:

NPcatalyst – Board fundraising webinar training session


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

10:30am-11:30am (PST)


 Register Now


The webinar is designed for all 501c3 organizations, whether they’re large or small;  weak or strong development programs; active or inactive board members; and, located in Nevada, the west coast or elsewhere – but all seeking growth and greater impact. 

Please note that the webinar will be taped and may be purchased for viewing immediately after the actual webinar date/time. For more information, contact NPcatayst at 775-333-9444 or info@NPcatalyst.com.

Creating an employee volunteer program


Businesses, large and small, have made financial contributions to non-profit, or community-benefit organizations, for many years. It wasn’t until recently that they began to increase their engagement…through volunteerism. Employee volunteer programs are becoming increasingly popular not just with large corporations, but small-to-mid-sized businesses seeking to enhance local communities and embark upon innovative business development initiatives.

Recognizing the trend, particularly through the number of inquiries we’re receiving to facilitate employee volunteer programs, here are simple suggestions to consider when developing a volunteer program at your business.

  • Have a sincere interest in creating change and making a difference as a company;
  • Solicit buy-in and support from executive leaders;
  • Hire an employee and/or select a consultant to create community connections as well as design and manage the program;
  • Set goals and objectives;
  • Consider offering special incentives, such as financial compensation, internal and public recognition, gift-for-hour donations;
  • Map existing employee connections, involvement, and interests;
  • Qualify organizations to ensure appropriate connections and validate purposes;
  • Track volunteer involvement;
  • Promote corporate to community engagement;
  • Evaluate employee volunteer program.


One task that’s not included, but is quite important, is to determine your expectations. Businesses which have identified and, more importantly, endorsed key expectations, such as those listed below, have developed successful employee volunteer programs.

  • Incorporate with core business and  corporate giving strategies
  • Create a healthier workforce
  • Deep understanding of employees;  strong relationships
  • Improve employee and job satisfaction; improved employee communication
  • Network by interfacing with community leaders
  • Show company and community pride
  • Enhance employee recruitment and retention
  • Recognize and address community needs; improve quality of life
  • Positively impact profitability – 81% of corporations focus their employee volunteer programs on core business functions


Community leadership goes far beyond simply making financial contributions. When businesses become actively engaged with community needs, causes, and organizations, incredible synergy is created and becomes contagious. End results include stronger workforces, community connections, and business-to-business alliances.

Think again if you find it strange that NPcatalyst, as a corporate giving consultant, is giving away the “secret sauce” to volunteer programming. It’s possible, but successful programs possess commitment, attention, and organization. This is precisely what volunteer program consultants, like NPcatalyst, provide to its corporate clients.

To learn more about creating a strong employee volunteer program at your business, contact NPcatalyst at info@NPcatalyst.com and 775-333-9444.

Areas to consider when considering funding, community collaborations

As a company, NPcatalyst strives to enhance the impact and visibility of philanthropy. We work with donors (primarily businesses) to create greater connections with their communities, where they contribute time and voluntary leadership. We introduce them to opportunities and community-benefit organizations (and their leaders), thus guiding them to successful community giving initiatives. We also work with community organizations to help create greater awareness, donor relations, development (fundraising) strategies, and recruit new donors and leaders. It’s an innovative approach to building community leadership, pride, and growth.

In daily conversations with donor and non-profit organizations, we frequently receive two questions. First, donors ask how and where the should contribute their money. At the same time, charities ask how they can raise more money from existing and new donors. The answers to both questions have commonalities, such understanding community needs and how donors and charities work together to meet them.

The strategies NPcatalyst creates for both donors and charities involve transparency and greater knowledge of funding and the organizations which receive them. It’s important, for many reasons, to have a keen understanding of how the organization is meeting community needs, how the organization is managing and performing, and precisely how the funds are allocated.

Providing this type of information to donors and, at the same time, leveraging it for greater public awareness, is why NPcatalyst created its HealthCheck system. Through an review of the Form 990 and answers from a 60-question survey, organizations receive a ratings analysis and a best practices tool in five areas. Beyond its ability to promote an organization’s strength and raise funds by ensuring their proper usage, it’s a great way to build upon the weak areas by implementing the recommended best practices. Here’s a close look at the five areas being analyzed.

Data & Efficiency

HealthCheck utilizes the IRS Forms 990 to analyze a non-profit organization’s financial performance in key performance categories. Upon analyzing performance categories, we assign a score as it relates to the organization’s efficiency, capacity, and overall financial health.

Finance & Fund Development

Non-profits have an obligation to act as responsible stewards in managing their financial resources. They must comply with all legal financial requirements and adhere to sound accounting principles that produce reliable financial information, ensure fiscal responsibility and build public trust. In addition, non-profits act as the intermediary between donors and beneficiaries and have an ethical obligation to ensure proper handling of funds to carry out their missions. Questions include:

  • The percentage of board members who make personal contributions.
  • The organization complies with all federal, state and local laws concerning fundraising practices.
  • The percentage of $250+ donors who received a written acknowledgement in the previous calendar year.


A non-profit’s leadership, represented by its staff and board of directors is responsible for defining the organization’s mission and for providing overall leadership and strategic direction to the organization. Each non-profit board should: ensure that the organization has adequate resources to carry out its mission and provide direction for the executive director and key staff; and evaluate its own effectiveness as a governing body and as representatives of the community in upholding the public interest served by the organization. Questions include:

  • The average percentage of board attendance at board meetings.
  • The organization pursues or is open to new strategic alliances (or collaborative partnerships) to achieve organizational goals.
  • The percentage of board members who have participated in an official board orientation process.

Human Resources

The ability of an organization to make effective use of the energy, time and talents of its employees and volunteers is essential to accomplish the organization’s mission.

Non-profit organizations should place a high priority on exercising fair and equitable practices that attract and retain qualified volunteers and employees. Nonprofits have an obligation to adhere to all applicable employment laws and to provide a safe and productive work environment. Questions include:

  • Employees receive formal performance evaluations.
  • The organization complies with all federal, state and local employment laws when hiring and employing personnel, including withholding and payment of payroll taxes.
  • The percentage of the organization’s employment positions which utilize a clear, current and written job description.

Public Information

Non-profits that provide information to prospective donors and other constituents promote informed and responsible philanthropy. Donors are better able to make decisions when they can learn a nonprofit’s purpose, who governs it, how it manages its financial resources, whom the nonprofit serves, and what progress it has made toward achieving its mission. Questions include:

  • The organization conducts a financial audit.
  • The organization conducts a constituent satisfaction survey.
  • The organization provides board meeting minutes and financials to those who request them.

The more satisfaction donors feel about the contributions they make to community-benefit organizations, the more likely the community’s needs will be met. At the same time, the charities which address those needs will be strengthened, so that others may engage as donors and volunteers. NPcatalyst’s HealthCheck is an outstanding resource  used when building collaborative partnerships between donors and charities.

For more information about philanthropy, collaborative partnerships, and charity research, contact NPcatalyst at http://www.npcatalyst.com/, info@npcatalyst.com or 775-333-9444.

The role of community foundations

Community foundations are tax-exempt charitable organizations created by and for community members seeking philanthropic leadership and guidance.  These organizations provide a simple, powerful, and highly personal approach to giving. They offer a variety of giving tools to help people achieve their charitable goals.


Compared to private foundations

Community foundations resemble private foundations, as both are grantmakers. They are unlike private foundations in that they enlist multiple donors, a constant influx of funds from new donors, and boards that, by law, must represent the community rather than the foundation ‘s primary donors.

Establishing a private foundation or trust takes time—something often in short supply for investors, especially when facing a December 31 deadline. Quite frankly, it only takes one day, sometimes less, to set up a fund at a community foundation.


Offer a variety of funds

Community foundations offer a number of funds which provide charitable giving solutions, including, but not limited to:

  • Donor Advised Funds: One of the most popular paths, these funds enable donors to take their time recommending charities to support.
  • Field of Interest Funds: These funds distribute money to charities focused on one specific area.
  • Designated Funds: Designed to distribute funds to one specific charity over time. This ensures that a small charity won’t be overwhelmed by a large donation it can’t handle.


Help create charitable giving strategies

Creating a charitable giving strategy involves experience, insight and an understanding of community needs. It also requires the ability to research and evaluate whether non-profit organizations can fulfill their missions effectively and efficiently. Community foundations assist donors with their financial contributions by:

  • Helping donors become more effective donors by providing education and networking with donor-peers.
  • Reducing administrative workloads by offering donor advised funds as an alternative to private foundations.
  • Providing insight about local issues and nonprofits to help maximize the impact of the donation.


Similar, but different than non-profit organizations

Community foundations are similar to non-profit organizations, as they seek funds from community members; but unlike non-profit organizations, as they deliver few direct services to the community. Instead, they grant support to non-profits to appropriately deliver community-beneficial services.

Non-profit organizations primarily have one field of interest, as compared to community foundations, which address the well-being of the total community. Non-profit organizations asks donor to support their missions; community foundations serve the interests of the donor, and also accepts unrestricted funds for the general good of the community.


Benefits of community foundations

  • Community foundations provide personalized service, helping individuals, families, businesses, and non-profit organizations achieve their charitable and financial goals by offering tools and resources that make giving easy, flexible, and effective.
  • Community foundations are local organizations staffed by people from local communities and led by local boards of trustees. These people have an in-depth knowledge of the issues, opportunities, and resources that shape your community, enabling them to play a key role in solving community problems, while helping donors learn more about local needs in order to make their giving as effective as possible.


Helping donors meet their philanthropic goals

Community foundations provide personalize attention to its donors. Some employ staff and most all access philanthropic leaders to help donors learn about community needs, assess giving opportunities, refine charitable goals, and/or create personal giving plans. These leaders can be placed in two primary categories.

  • Professional Advisors – represented by accountants, attorneys, estate planners, financial advisors, and insurance agents, they:
    • Address tax planning needs
    • help with personal investments, charitable goals and needs.
    • Facilitate complex forms of giving and execute technical giving instruments
  • Philanthropic Advisors – represented by leaders and consultants like NPcatalyst, they:
    • Address giving interests and motivations
    • help create charitable giving plans which are integrated into business and personal giving decisions
    • find nonprofits that meet your interests and charitable goals
    • provide in-depth information about non-profits


Donors seeking greater philanthropic impact should consider the role of community foundations. A “new” concept when the first was created in 1914 in Cleveland, Ohio, it’s now an opportunity found in hundreds of communities. In fact, there are more than 650 community foundations serving urban and rural communities throughout the United States. Collectively, they hold approximately $31 billion in combined assets and make local grants of approximately $2.6 billion annually.

Donors will be hard pressed to find more valuable community stewards, so focused on the improvement of quality of life in local communities.


The relationship of community leadership

I’m continually reminded that each person’s interest in volunteering is different. It’s different based on a number of factors, including such things as family upbringing personal surroundings, education, social status, employment, career path, age and personal/professional goals. Each one of us is different, yet we all share something in common…a better world.

Midway through a presentation I was giving on community leadership this evening, I caught myself wondering how each person was interpreting my comments. “What’s their voluntary interest” and “what role does volunteering play in their future” bounced in my head. Most of the audience of aspiring community leaders had very little experience as volunteers, which made my analysis intriguing. Here I was, a person so passionate about community leadership, trying to preach the good word, while conducting an analysis of his audience. It was both exciting and eye-opening.

What I concluded was this: each of us develops personal relationships with his/her own benevolence.

For the person interested in becoming active with the community, the process can be similar to dating. There are many organizations affecting different causes…most all of which are led by caring and dedicated leaders. Based on personal interests, passions, and connections, some organizations will fit more than others. Providing leadership in different ways, from general operations assistance to program/event leadership to skills-based support to board governance, it’s a process of discovery, peaks-valleys, and excitement. And as I shared this evening, it’s similar to romance.

As with dating, some of us will travel the path on our own, without assistance, until we find “the one”…the organization which presents the ideal fit. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that journey.

For others, getting set up (like a blind date) or using a little guidance (like matchmaking) there may be strategy involved. Recognizing the causes which link the greatest interest and passion, and identifying which organizations affect those particular causes, will provide the volunteer-seeker with the right foundation.

There are many organizations in our communities looking for great leaders, who represent diverse backgrounds and bring different skill sets. That’s the excitement that volunteerism brings – you never know how the relationship will look. More than not, it’s all positive, as we’re all seeking greater things for our communities. From where I stand, it’s incredibly rewarding to watch (or help create) successful matches come together – everyone wins – especially those who are ultimately affected by the organization’s missions, programs, and…volunteer leadership.

NPcatalyst setting the standard in community engagement, charitable giving

NPcatalyst, L.L.C. setting the standard in community engagement

NPcatalyst, L.L.C. (formerly Parker Development Services), a Reno-based firm, works with corporate and non-profit clients to achieve measured community-driven results. Services feature strategy development, charitable giving facilitation, and public awareness through a best practices-driven model.

Passionate about the non-profit sector, managing partner, Pete Parker, believes active community engagement will positively impact each community’s economy, leadership and charitable outreach. “Our quest is to set the standard of giving and create models of excellence with our clients.” To aid in his quest and provide leadership to businesses of all sizes, he added a partner with extensive corporate management experience.

“I am pleased to be part of this team as I recognize the many benefits corporations can realize through strategic involvement and connections with communities and their many philanthropies”, states Jeff Lenardson, also a managing partner of the firm. With over 20 years of entrepreneurial success in both Southern California and Northern Nevada, Lenardson brings valuable knowledge from the corporate sector. “I also believe in applying best practices and validation to a fragmented non-profit space to help organizations and individuals make informed gifting decisions.”

The NPcatalyst website features a growing list of non-profit organizations seeking financial and voluntary leadership. “Focused and active community engagement builds strong leaders, businesses, and non-profit organizations, which creates thriving philanthropic synergies”, says Parker.

Learn more about NPcatalyst at www.NPcatalyst.com and 775-333-9444.


About NPcatalyst
NPcatalyst strengthens communities by creating, managing, and leveraging opportunities with its key community stakeholders: individual citizens, businesses, foundations and non-profit organizations. Our charter is to set the standard of philanthropic excellence through effective and value-driven best practices.

Radio show discussing community engagement


I was invited by Jeffrey Benjamin, owner of Breakthrough Training, to his radio show to share my tips and habits as they relate to community leadership. Jeff’s an amazing leadership coach, who finds considerable value in connecting leaders with opportunities. His show airs each at 9:30am each Sunday morning on 99.1FM talk radio (http://www.991fmtalk.com/).

A taped interview, I now invite you to listen to the six-minute show. It was originally aired in September 2010 and is timeless and applicable in any city…not just Reno, where it was taped. Here’s the link: http://soundcloud.com/breakthroughtraining/jeffrey-benjamin-speaks-with-pete-parker

Jeff and I had a great, albeit brief, conversation about community outreach and the value found through businesses, business leaders and local citizens…not to mention non-profit organizations and the communities they strive to improve.

We addressed the potential leadership shortage, which includes giving of both time and dollar, and the need to link people with community opportunities…now. One of my favorite quotes was the one where I linked personal excitement (like goosebumps) to contributing…a generator of tremendous satisfaction.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, although we could have spoken for hours on community engagement. Sincerely thankful for the opportunity, I look forward to working with Jeff and leaders like him, who wish to develop stronger relations with the community and its benefit organizations.

If you’re interested in learning more about community engagement/giving opportunities, how to start the process, or wish to share your own ideas, do not hesitate to contact me (petep@npcatalyst.com; 775-333-9444).

Yours in Community!