Tag Archives: charitable strategy

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.

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.

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.