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:
Revenue

  • 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

Exposure

  • 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.

 

JD Benefit Services hires NPcatalyst

      

Reno, Nev.— JD Benefit Services, a Reno-based insurance agency, has hired NPcatalyst to provide community engagement solutions, highlighted by a strategic community and charitable giving model.

“We’ve proudly served many clients throughout all of Nevada for over 20 years and, in that time, made significant contributions to many charitable organizations which strengthen our communities”, says Steve Dalinis, president of JD Benefit Services. We feel that it’s now time to align our community leadership efforts with our business strategies.”

Recognizing the benefits associated with an improved giving plan, the JD Benefit Services executive seek to create strong connections in the communities where their clients live and work.

“The solutions tend to reduce staff time and costs on mundane activities, while enhancing relationships with community and charitable investments”, according to Pete Parker, managing partner of the Reno-based philanthropic solutions firm. “With Steve and his team, we expect to integrate “giving” as part of their overall corporate mission and, at the same time, implement procedures which streamline all community engagement activity.”

For more information about this project, contact NPcatalyst at www.NPcatalyst.com and 775-333-9444.

Increase contributions through online and mobile giving

 

Every community organization approaching our company for assistance has the same issue – the need for funding support. While each organization’s situation is different, the common theme has been the search for revenue using new vehicles and/or from new target audiences. We’ve noticed, however, that very few utilize robust or even strategic online giving models.

“Studies have shown that online giving increased 35% in 2010”, says Pete Parker, managing partner of NPcatalyst. “Rather than allow non-profit organizations to stand on the sidelines hoping for new contributors to magically visit their websites to make donations, our strategies are tailored to proactively reach out to prospective donors.”

NPcatalyst works with non-profit organizations to design online giving campaigns directly aligned with their annual giving, major campaign, and special event goals. Using an infusion of e-communications capacities, social media tools and mobile giving, the online giving strategies increase public awareness and direct giving successes. The design of each strategy is rooted in a campaign model featuring measurable benchmarks, network connections, and appealing promotional messages.

For a minimal investment, a tailor-made online giving campaign can be designed and generating contributions within one week.

The NPcatalyst online giving solution works for all organizations, regardless of their online giving and social media readiness or that they’ve had a “donate now” button featured on their website for some time. The firm offers solutions for every non-profit organization seeking to generate online gifts and expand their internet-based presence and reach.

To learn more about the NPcatalyst online giving solution, call 775-333-9444 or email info@npcatalyst.com.

Community Investments as Vehicles for Corporate Growth

By Pete Parker

As a business leader, what is your impression of the non-profit community? Do you view the organizations within the sector as always seeking support in their attempt to create impact? Or, do you look at community organizations as vehicles of opportunity; vehicles of performance; vehicles of growth?

As a leader of your company, you’re continually looking for ways to maximize the return on your investments, particularly the funds spent on people and marketing. You incorporate all the typical (tried and true) methods of generating profits. But have you ever considered viewing the non-profit sector as an investment?

It’s likely that your business receives countless requests from local charities to make donations, sponsor events, or contribute to people in need. And, it’s likely that you’ve supported these organizations either through your marketing, charitable contributions, and/or advertising budgets for truly noble reasons. If you or your business has supported causes or organizations, kudos to you. There’s no doubt that your support met deserving community needs.

Have you ever leveraged your community investments? If you haven’t viewed the non-profit sector as a vehicle for corporate growth, you might consider taking a deeper look. As you do, you might want to keep in mind the potential value driven by corporate donations and employee volunteerism.

For example, did you ever think that one of your company’s best practices could be to feature employee volunteerism as one method of retaining your most qualified personnel? Not only are you adding a level of flexibility to your staff member’s daily routine, you’re enabling your staffer to become more in-tune and connected with the community. If you typically send staff to conferences to pick up new skills, you’ll see considerable savings (and improved skills retention) by encouraging staff members to volunteer in roles which could provide benefit to your company. One idea would be to send an accounting staffer to a non-profit organization which has an opportunity on its marketing and/or development committees.

    As a result of Illinois-based, Adventist Midwest Health’s strategic plan, which aims to improve employee engagement and patient satisfaction, employee turnover has decreased and employee satisfaction has increased.

And for example, do you completely leverage the benefits offered through event sponsorships? With most, sponsors receive a table (or foursome), where they’re able to bring guests. Well, could you fill the spots with top clients or hot prospective clients? Most sponsorship benefits include public displays of your image (on letters, posters, advertisements, programs and/or websites. Rather than simply send a logo, you might think about sending along a message (like your mission, or a call-to-action). How about placing a reciprocal link with the charity’s logo (and reason for supporting) on your website? Would you consider issuing a press release announcing your partnership with the community organization?

    According to the 2007 Cone Cause Evolution Environmental Survey, “There has been a shift in the value equation: good business used to be primarily about providing quality products/services at a fair value. But this is no longer sufficient for competitive differentiation. Companies need to display humanity and support issues that resonate with stakeholders to build emotional relevance and loyalty.”

These are just two examples to leveraging (and impacting) your company’s marketing and human resources efforts…or in a different light…your human and financial capital.

    The UK-based Charities Aid Foundation, states it quite clearly, a successful community investment program can build partnerships with mutual benefit to your company and society; boost staff morale and company loyalty; develop your employees’ skills; enhance your company’s image and reputation; and, influence how government and local bodies see your organization.

Whether in difficult or strong economic climates, leaders in both the corporate and non-profit sectors need to continually look at opportunities for growth. When these leaders realize the strength and potential for excellence created through synergistic partnerships, everyone wins…the corporation; the community organization; and most of all, the community.

Call for Community-Benefit Organization Information

By Pete Parker

It’s no secret that building community strength lies at the heart of my personal and professional missions. I’ve sought to accomplish this by creating opportunities for both community members and organizations, linking organizations to resources (and vice-versa), and opening doors of possibilities.

While I continue working to strengthen community organizations, I actively engage with individual and corporate donors looking to be more strategic with their voluntary and financial gifting. Many are seeking to support organizations which are more aligned with their interests, goals, passions, and capacities to give. It’s exciting to see the synergy created by connecting these potential donors…which make ideal board, major gift and general volunteer candidates…to organizations interested in growth and community impact.

One of these donors, a successful local business, has asked me to present a roster of deserving community-benefit organizations from which they can choose to allocate their voluntary and financial resources. Presenting this list will compliment my next presentation (on June 15), which will be a discussion of the value of establishing community connections. While I know of many community organizations, I would serve as a more valuable resource if I presented a booklet (along with personal insight) of organization profiles.

To make this happen, I’ve designed a simple (3-5 minute) Community Information Profile Form to capture contact information, service opportunities, financial needs, and special event notes for community organizations. All organizations, regardless of location, are welcome to complete the form and, as a result, create a profile for the potential donors with whom I work.

The information form is located at: http://bit.ly/duEi5H.

Please note that your information will not be sold, but may be provided to those interested in learning more about your organization.

Because meeting with other individuals and businesses are planned, all organizations (regardless of geographical location) are encouraged to submit information. Even if just one connection is made, it could be that one connection which spurs a lifetime of outstanding support.

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.