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.

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!

 

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.

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.

Strategic philanthropy creates outstanding opportunities for communities and businesses

Strategic philanthropy is an excellent way to combine company goals with a desire to create charitable goodwill. It’s meant to foster company business growth through targeted giving that corresponds to company interests. At the core of its design, strategic philanthropy is result-oriented, targeting specific goals; developing defined strategies; measuring progress; and determining success.

Companies utilizing philanthropic strategies offer employees opportunities to challenge themselves professionally through community leadership and volunteer pursuits. Community engagement presents opportunities to increase productivity and a competitive edge in recruiting and retaining skilled leaders. With an active community engagement program, companies benefit from team-building, leadership development and an employee-base of corporate ambassadors. This translates into bottom-line results for companies represented by satisfied employees, loyal customers and a strong community connection.

For companies seeking growth through strategic community impact, success is measured as much by social benefit as it is by improvements to the bottom line. Aligning corporate contribution with business objectives and interests is core to strategic philanthropy. These companies can indirectly market products and services, often to clearly defined market segments.

Creating a philanthropic strategy for you or your business is relatively simple. It starts by making a commitment to an effort driven at corporate growth and community impact. It continues by hiring a staff member or philanthropic advisor (like NPcatalyst), who will provide leadership and guidance by:

  • Assessing your philanthropic activity and culture
  • Understanding the local community
  • Identifying your connections, interests, community involvement, target audiences and business strategies
  • Designing the philanthropic strategy with measureable goals
  • Facilitating giving through the proper processing of solicitation requests
  • Measuring employee volunteerism and board leadership
  • Leveraging total community engagement for greater public image, customer loyalty, employee retention and, most of all, community impact.

 

Strategic philanthropy initiatives should serve as a link between core business strategies, community needs and personnel involvement. Through these connections, communities strengthened through their non-profit organizations gain long-lasting benefits and businesses generate growth through increased sales and revenue, and the active volunteerism of their employees.

Research and transparency can increase charitable support

Over the last five years, we’ve witnessed an interesting progression with donors and volunteers. As a result of charitable competition, economic forces, and electronic capacities, today’s donors are increasingly curious, analyze before acting, and desire greater connectivity. When donors consider non-profit organizations for their contributions, a number of factors come into play, including the donor’s relationship, belief in the mission, and geographical location. Many times, this isn’t enough information for a prospective donor to render a decision.

In an article, written by Forbes magazine columnist Matt Brady, last September, he wrote, “Since wealthy donors want greater impact and demonstrable results from their giving, the onus is increasingly on charities to provide greater transparency in how they are spending their money and more evidence of the effect of their efforts. Smaller, nimbler and more accountable charities are becoming increasingly attractive to donors vs. large, traditional ones.”

In our many conversations with donors and volunteers, they gain the most satisfaction when supporting efficient, well-operated organizations. When asked what they look for when determining their charitable support, the answers have fallen within the following five predominant categories:

Data & Efficiency

A review of financial information, such as figures found on IRS Forms, enables the donor to analyze a non-profit organization’s financial information. The donor can then determine 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.

Governance

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.

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.

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.

We’re excited by this movement, as I believe we’ll see increases in financial and voluntary support as well as stronger organizations which receive the support. In fact, NPcatalyst has created a tool designed to drive support to non-profit organizations while, at the same time, rating each organization according to the various performance indicators. It’s called NPHealthCheck and can be found at www.npcatalyst.com.

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Skills-based volunteerism achieves results for non-profits and businesses

By Pete Parker 

Skills-based volunteerism has been around for ages, beginning primarily with pro bono work within the legal sector. In recent years, it has played an increasingly key role throughout the corporate sector.

According to the 2009 Deloitte IMPACT Study, skills-based volunteerism can best be described as:

  • Volunteerism which uses skills, experience, talents or education. Impacts corporations, organizations and individuals. Uses existing skills and develops new ones
  • Volunteerism which finds the intersection of high impact skills that match with characteristics needed by local nonprofits.
  • Individuals who volunteer their skills or talents or experience to support a nonprofit project or organization.

Non-profit organizations are highly driven in realizing their social missions, but they are often faced with business issues that hands-on volunteering cannot address and that financial contributions often cannot meet.

Skills-based volunteering is rapidly gaining recognition as a powerful driver of social impact and business value. “Skills-based volunteer programs provide valuable experiential learning opportunities for employees that build business and leadership skills without the expense often associated with traditional corporate training programs,” said Evan Hochberg, Deloitte Services LP national director of community involvement, in a press release.

The benefits of SBV (Skills-Based Volunteerism) count many and affect both the corporation providing the human capital, as well as the causes and organizations receiving the expertise. Below are just a handful of the benefits:

Corporate benefits of skills-based volunteerism:

  • Enhances existing and develops new employee skills
  • Expands corporate in-kind opportunity
  • Permits more in-depth relationships with non-profit organizations
  • Enhances reputation of company and its values

Benefits to non-profit organizations:

  • Access to needed management skills/expertise
  • An outside perspective on strategic issues
  • Helps solve organizational issues that staff are not able to take on
  • Volunteers = ambassadors, supporters
  • May lead to new donors

According to the Taproot Foundation, a nonprofit organization that makes business talent available to organizations working to improve society, pro bono service deepens your reputation as a good corporate citizen. The Foundation also states that:

  • Surveys show that corporate citizenship is now the top driver of reputation;
  • Companies engaged in corporate social responsibility had a 10-year return on equity that was 10% higher than their counterparts and a 10 year relative return to shareholders that was 65% higher;
  • Most Americans regard the donation of products and employee time more favorably than financial support; and,
  • The dollar valuation of an hour of pro bono service is nearly 10x that of traditional volunteer activities, adding significantly to your annual total community giving and impact.

Corporate leaders are just now beginning to recognize the value of skills-based volunteerism. Whether they hire executive leaders or local service brokers to manage these programs, they are recognizing positive benefits within their companies. “Corporate America has yet to fully tap the benefits of integrating skills-based volunteerism into talent development strategies and programs,” said Susan Burnett, Deloitte Services LP national director of talent development.

The Points of Light Institute, which strives to inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action that changes the world, is a leader in the volunteer-service movement. The organization believes that more agencies must seize the opportunity to leverage talent and that more businesses are eager to activate around their brand and core business.

Don’t hesitate to learn more about skills-based volunteerism and designing effective corporate-community investment programs, by contacting Pete Parker (petep@npcatalyst.com; 775-333-9444).