The past year of events have taken a toll on people all over the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected individuals, families, and businesses in heartbreaking ways. One positive that has emerged, however, is the kindness that has been shown during this chaotic time. Areas require donations or aid and there are many nonprofits and charitable organizations that work endlessly to provide aid to those who need it. Their work takes some of the burden off of those that are struggling during these unprecedented times. Philanthropy is a powerful way to aid the work that so many are already doing. Those that are eager to dedicate themselves to the cause and respond to coronavirus can do so in a number of ways.
The first step to take is to determine the organization or charity that you are looking to contribute to. These organizations could be ones that you regularly work with/ donate to or it could be ones that are close to your heart in other ways. These organizations could be working with certain populations like those living in urban areas or organizations with specific goals of helping remedy housing or food insecurity.
One way to directly help those in need is by giving money. The pandemic has brought about financial pressures for everyone, especially nonprofits working to meet the needs of the community. Financial donors can make a big difference during this time by providing the means for organizations to buy medical equipment, supply food, etc. Just a few of the nonprofit organizations working on the frontlines include:
Those looking for general COVID-19 funds to donate to can look into GlobalGiving, GoFundMe’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, and The New York Times’ Neediest Cases Fund.
Where To Start
Not sure where to start? There are even organizations that help research charities and nonprofits. While it’s important for you to vet potential organizations yourself, these entities help with the legwork and provide you with a base level of knowledge. Explore websites like GuideStar, Charity Navigator, GiveWell, and CharityWatch for more insight. These organizations have rating systems, gold standards, and grading scales in place to help people be informed donors.
Outside of online research, look into charities and nonprofit organizations that those around you care about, for example, the places your alma mater, your pastor, or your employers have donated to. Finding connections within your own circle usually leads to helpful ideas since your personal values will usually align more closely with those that you surround yourself with.
Volunteering time is just as valuable as contributing money or supplies. Companies that have employee volunteer programs can look into organizations where more volunteer labor is needed. Many organizations are short handed due to health and safety considerations. A few volunteer opportunities to look into are:
Socially Distanced Volunteer Work
Nonprofits are also working to ensure that volunteers are safe, for example, activities like meal delivery can be done in a contactless environment. Many activities like making care packages, preparing food, and working in pantries have been modified so volunteers are protected. Many projects have coordinated delivery routes or even worked out a drive-through system to limit the amount of contact people have with each other.
In addition, those that are still wanting to donate time without having to be at risk of any exposure in a volunteer setting can look to online opportunities. Those with language experience can spend time getting involved with Translators Without Borders, a nonprofit organization working to make information accessible to diverse populations. It is even easy to volunteer using a smartphone. Organizations like Amnesty International’s Decoders Initiative requests help with flagging human rights violations on the internet. This involves dedicating time to sifting through digital content, documents, satellite data, etc. to help identify acts of injustice. Technology these days makes it simple for anyone with an internet connection to help out a cause and join global networks of other volunteers. The work that you and others do could help fill an important gap.
The COVID-19 virus has rapidly changed the way we live our daily lives. Businesses and nonprofits have been struggling with the economic impact and additional hardships brought about by the pandemic. There are a variety of relief funds available for businesses that need extra help during this unprecedented time. Recently passed legislation included $900 billion in aid to those affected and many foundations have set aside COVID-19 specific funding available to small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals.
CARES Act and Pandemic Relief Bill
The new stimulus package passed just before the holidays included relief and aid to individuals and businesses who were awaiting news of the next stimulus package. This relief bill contained renewals of a variety of funding offered through the first stimulus package and includes a variety of aid for specific populations and small businesses/nonprofit organizations also.
COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans
The CARES Act includes $20 billion for EIDL grants (economic injury disaster loan program). These grants are meant to provide economic relief for small businesses and nonprofit organizations that are experiencing a temporary loss of revenue and include aid for businesses in low-income communities. EIDL funds can be used to help cover normal operating expenses including health care benefits, rent, utilities, etc.
Entertainment and Theatre Venues
$15 billion of CARES Act funding has been set aside to help entertainment and theatre venues. This is known as the “Save Our Stages” Act and includes live venues, independent movie theatres, and cultural institutions. Organizations will need to have experienced a 25 percent revenue decline compared to same quarters from previous years. These allocations can include up to $10 million in aid for each organization. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is currently working on applications which will be posted on grants.gov and will host a pre-application informational webinar beforehand.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP2)
An additional $285 billion in loans was approved under the Paycheck Protection Program. This funding is available to those with fewer than 300 employees that experienced at least a 25 percent decrease in revenue from quarters from previous years. $12 billion of this funding was specifically earmarked for minority-owned businesses, ensuring that many diverse and low-income communities will receive the aid they need to sustain their businesses.
Applications for Paycheck Protection
Program loans are currently being accepted by the Small Business Administration (SBA) from participating community financial institutions (CFIs) and lenders.
Click here for access to the full text of the bill.
Grant Funders and Foundations
For those looking for funding outside of federal opportunities, there are many grant funders and foundations who are providing aid to small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals.
Small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and individuals who are looking for a resource list of available grants and funding opportunities can utilize the following websites for their searches:
Going green is the way of the future and this shows. Not only does sustainability in business help the planet, it is also shown to help the business. According to The Natural Marketing Institute, consumers are 58% more likely to buy products or use services from a company when it is conscious of its environmental footprint. Establishing eco-friendly practices within a business can lead to a wide range of benefits on top of attracting customers. Companies with sustainable ideals reduce the costs of operations, qualify for eco-friendly incentives through federal tax credits and energy companies, and have higher employee retention rates with surveys showing that 52% of employees want their companies to be more environmentally aware.
Businesses That Use Sustainable PracticesIt’s possible for any company to build a sustainable business regardless of size. Implementing a green business model only takes innovation and dedication and is feasible for small companies with a handful of people. Examples of small to medium sized businesses that can incorporate green practices include eco-friendly retailers like West Paw or Thread, organic food companies like Galactic Pizza, or even green housekeeping services. These types of companies are focused on reusing materials, using environmentally friendly packaging, implementing renewable energy, and sourcing ingredients from responsible places. Other companies are focused on energy consumption and reducing their carbon footprint. 1&1, a web hosting company has lowered heat loss in their data centers by 20% and also purchased Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) that go towards funding renewable energy projects.
The Basics of Implementing Green Practices In Your Company
Implement Environmentally Friendly Lighting
Reduce Paper Use
Minimize Single Use Products
Be Conscious of Device Use
Ready to Take it to the Next Level?
Does your company have all your entry-level “going green” bases covered? Try taking it up a notch by investing in some of these suggested practices.
Written By: Joana Breidenbach for the BMW Foundation Twenty Thirty blog
Published on Twenty Thirty on: June 19, 2020
The world as we have known it has suddenly come to a standstill. In this eerie pause we can see the gap between the habitual world we have inherited, including its many dysfunctions, and a possible better future: a society and an economy that are more equitable, healthy, and respectful of planetary boundaries. But for this transition to happen, we need a new type of leadership. We need people who have the right mindset and skills to navigate the complex transformation from the national-industrial to the global-digital age.
Based on my own experience with new self-organized forms of leadership and collaboration in a social business, I will outline a few lessons learned over the past five years. These are, I believe, highly applicable to the volatile and uncertain post-COVID-19 era and can provide some guidance for organizations as they navigate the current transformation.
1. The coronavirus stress test has hurt impact businesses
But before diving into leadership, let’s look at the current situation of many social entrepreneurs and impact businesses in Europe. Many of our organizations and companies are struggling under the coronavirus stress test.
We are confronting a paradox: For the last decade, an increasing number of social entrepreneurs have developed agile and innovative answers to ecological and social challenges. Their market-based business models promised to make organizations not only more sustainable but also more responsive to the actual needs of clients and customers.
But in the current crisis these very qualities are backfiring. With the economy in semi-lockdown, many goods and services provided by these organizations have broken down and with them all of their revenue. One prominent example is Dialog im Dunkeln (Dialogue in the Dark). This well-established social business based in Hamburg, Germany, which enabled sighted people to experience the world of the blind, had to close its doors after losing 90% of its revenue.
Like most social businesses aiming to break even, the organization does not have the financial buffer to survive such a revenue loss. It also does not fit the criteria of the rescue packages provided by the German government, as non-profit social businesses are not eligible for commercial loans.
Thus the crisis seems to be benefiting more traditional NGOs which rely on long-term grants from foundations or public institutions, few of which have withdrawn their support. Yet the more dynamic and agile initiatives, which rely on short-term funding to respond quickly to acute needs (such as the 2015/16 European refugee crisis or COVID-19 itself) are finding themselves in a much more difficult situation, as most funders are hesitant to invest new money.
The current situation is dangerous, as many new digital-savvy, agile, and dynamic social businesses, well suited to tackle the “wicked problems” we are facing, are in danger of falling through the grid of both the market and the rescue measures. If we want to create a dynamic impact eco-system, we urgently need to provide tailored support to these new kinds of NGOs, social and impact businesses.
2. Navigating complex, messy environments requires new leadership competencies
Not all impact businesses are suffering. Those with a strong digital component and/or a for-profit business model are very well positioned to thrive in the new environment. These include innovative and often local solutions in essential industries like energy, food, and mobility. They are based on antifragile systems (Taleb), which means they are decentralized, open source, environmentally friendly, and capable of repair and change.
For these promising approaches to succeed in an increasingly messy and unstable world, we need new types of leadership. The hierarchical command–and-control style of running a business may have been suitable for the more predictable, standardized industrial world. But it’s proving too rigid, slow, and wasteful of talent for the current era, which is not only much more complex, but operates under the looming threat of climate collapse and societal and political fragmentation.
In order to manage this fast-changing and uncertain world, companies and organizations have for some years tried to become more agile and responsive. They have flattened hierarchies, abolished fixed role descriptions, and introduced remote work. COVID-19 has accelerated this trend, as #homeoffice has suddenly become a mainstream experience. With this shift towards greater autonomy and self-management, founders and leaders are confronting new questions: How can I manage a decentralized team? How can I communicate effectively in a network? How can I motivate my employees and control the quality of their work?
Decentralized and self-managed teams require very different leadership skills. Leadership functions such as strategy development, recruiting, or quality control are suddenly no longer concentrated at the top but distributed throughout the team. This requires a very different flow of information as well as different decision-making processes and control mechanisms.
But, as I learned in my own company, if these reorganizations only touch on external structures and processes, they are doomed to fail. When I stepped down as CEO and introduced self-management instead, we learned that transformation, in order to be sustainable, has to be much more holistic, demanding new inner competencies of every team member.
Why do we need to include our inner beings – our feelings, needs, values, and mindsets – in the change process? Well, in the wake of dissolving traditional structures, we are losing our habitual external markers for security and orientation (the boss, the rules, etc.). But as security and stability are basic human needs, we have to find them elsewhere: in a volatile and uncertain external world this can only be in our selves and in our relationships.
Leaders (as well as team members) need to grow psychologically; they need to know their values, what makes them productive, and how to organize themselves. Lacking formal processes for many situations, they need to communicate much more transparently with their colleagues. And they have to be able to manage the fears and anxieties which will undoubtedly accompany their work.
3. Overcoming burn-out and establishing a wellbeing culture
This new focus on inner competencies is all the more important, as many social entrepreneurs and impact executives are already struggling psychologically. Research findings among social entrepreneurship networks and co-working spaces are alarming: Well over 50% of founders and employees report burn-out and depression, up to 75% regularly consume drugs or alcohol to cope with stress. And many pioneers find themselves in precarious economic situations.
There are many reasons for this wellbeing crisis: Most founders and executives are tackling grave social and environmental problems. They are highly self-motivated and have a tendency for self-sacrifice, while at the same time operating with limited and mostly inadequate resources. Funders for their part have for a long time focused on reducing overheads, leading to a chronic underinvestment in capacity building in the social impact sector. On top of that, the COVID-19 crisis has increased the stress level in many organizations enormously.
All of this leads to a lot of individual suffering and reduced social effectiveness, as organizations built on scarcity and stress are unable to provide healthy services for others.
Yet there is hope on the horizon: global initiatives such as the Wellbeing Project are advocating for a new culture of self-care and inner work in the social and impact sector. Wellbeing refers to deep personal development work which leads to wholeness and connection. Practices supporting wellbeing may include meditation, spending more time with family, reflecting on one’s life, or seeing a therapist. These practices lead to better mental health, more life satisfaction, a sense of meaning, and the ability to better manage stress. An ongoing series of articles in the Stanford Social Innovation Review explores this connection between inner wellbeing and social change in detail.
I’m personally deeply committed to this agenda. With the support of a diverse range of funders, the betterplace lab is currently designing a program for German social change actors that focuses on individual wellbeing competencies, such as self-inquiry, as well as organizational skills for better collaboration.
A new leadership paradigm appears on the horizon: creating thriving businesses whose ultimate aim is not shareholder value but a more equitable society and a healthy planet. For this we need to build human-centric organizations and enable more team members to realize their potential. Psychologically balanced and resilient individuals are well equipped to unlock their creativity in service of the larger mission of our organizations.
As leaders, we can inspire our teams to embark on this new path, role model the new values, and support our employees to explore and acquire the new competencies needed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Joana Breidenbach (@joanabp) is founder of betterplace.org, betterplace lab, and The Future of Work needs Inner Work. She is deeply interested in digital-social innovations and inner work and also invests in meaningful startups.
The Board of Directors of a nonprofit organization is tasked with the responsibility of considering, discussing, and voting on the affairs, actions, and decisions of the nonprofit. Being a member of the board can allow you to have some say in how money is spent, where resources are allocated, which steps the nonprofit will take next, and much more. If you are particularly interested in or dedicated to the work being done by the nonprofit, working on the board can allow you to make an impact on a cause you care about.
While some nonprofits are desperate for board members, and will happily take volunteers that are willing to dedicate their time and energy, others are more selective and require potential board members to prove themselves before being considered for a slot at the table. If you have found a nonprofit that you feel passionate about, and want to become more involved by joining their board of directors, here are a few pieces of advice to keep in mind:
Want more tips, tricks, and advice on living a philanthropic life? Visit Blackbird Philanthropy Advisors today, and be sure to visit our blog for more information.
Creating a thriving and efficient work environment isn’t always about what happens in the office - sometimes, it’s the time you encourage your employees to take off that makes the biggest difference. Offering your employees volunteer time off is an amazing way to get them engaged in the community, can help boost the image of your company, and can help further the mission of your business.
What is VTO?
Like paid time off, volunteer time off (VTO) policies offer employees the chance to take a day off with pay. Rather than going on vacation or taking sick leave, VTO is for volunteering. Offering paid days off to your employees encourages them to take advantage of the opportunity, and can even help boost employee morale.
Most companies that offer VTO offer somewhere between 8 and 80 hours per year, with some even offering employees the chance to take paid sabbaticals to dedicate themselves purely to volunteering. An organization offering VTO can choose just how much time they will allow, and can even dictate which organizations employees should volunteer with to qualify. By requiring employees to volunteer for specific causes and organizations, you’ll be able to direct time, energy, and effort toward a cause that matters to you and your business.
Some companies require employees to take at least 8 hours of VTO throughout the year, implementing mandatory minimum volunteer hours for all members of staff. Other companies leave the choice entirely up to the employee, allowing them to request as much or as little VTO as they want. Approving employees for VTO is a relatively straightforward process, and requires little more than a simple scheduling protocol for employees to submit requests for VTO with reasonable advanced notice.
What Are the Advantages of a VTO Policy?
Some business owners might frown at the idea of paying their workforce to ‘work’ elsewhere for a day, but despite the lost working hours, there are plenty of advantages to implementing a VTO policy in your organization.
Companies that Offer VTO
If you decide to begin offering your employees VTO, you’ll be joining the more than 65% of companies that already have these programs in place. Some of the biggest, most well-known corporations are also those with the most generous VTO policies, and more and more professionals are beginning to expect their employers to dedicate a portion of their resources to community and social programs. Here are just a few of the companies that offer VTO to their employees:
How You Can Create a VTO Policy
If you haven’t already, now is the time to begin offering your employees paid volunteer time off. Creating a basic VTO policy is fairly simple, and if you already have a PTO policy in place, you will be able to follow its basic framework. Some important details for your VTO policy to include are:
Ready to take it to the next level?
These are companies who are going above and beyond and offering an even greater depth to their community service programs:
Want to learn more about making a difference in your community? Visit Blackbird Philanthropy Advisors insights blog to discover much more.
Nonprofit sponsorships are a great way for companies to give back while also helping to build their brand, but oftentimes, companies struggle to find the right nonprofit to sponsor. Briefly, sponsorships involve the sponsor giving the receiving organization money, goods, or services in exchange for marketing or advertising of some kind. For example, the sponsor may pay the nonprofit, and in exchange, the nonprofit may put the sponsor’s brand name and logo in all advertising for their next event.
Sponsorships benefit all involved, but that doesn’t mean you should accept every sponsorship opportunity that comes along, even if you can afford it. Choosing the wrong nonprofit to sponsor could hurt the image of your brand, so it is important to make the selection carefully. At Blackbird Philanthropy Advisors, we work with business owners to help them make strategic moves for the maximum benefit of all, and have helped countless companies to find the perfect sponsorship opportunities for them. Keep reading to discover a few key things to consider when choosing a nonprofit to sponsor.
As you begin your search for the right nonprofit, it is important to consider your company’s connection to various causes and organizations. You should be looking for nonprofits whose causes correlate with the work you are doing, the area in which you operate, etc. Sure, you could select a nonprofit doing work you find interesting, but that won’t directly help your brand. The goal with nonprofit sponsorships is to benefit both parties involved, but if you choose a cause that is entirely unrelated to your business, you could end up with the short end of the stick.
When creating a sponsorship agreement with any nonprofit, it is important to know a little about the people that are running the organization. Sometimes, business owners discover nonprofit sponsorship opportunities that seem perfect, until they delve deeper into the beliefs or methodologies of their leadership. In some cases, it may be something small about the people associated with the nonprofit that turns you off from the opportunity, and in other cases, the amazing people you build connections with could seal the deal.
While considering any sponsorship opportunity, it is important to look closely at the benefits you are being offered. At first glance, many nonprofit sponsorship seem like they could be highly beneficial for any organization, but it is important to look past the surface to make sure that you are truly a good fit. To ensure you stay on target and don’t miss out on the benefits you are looking for, it is a good idea to have your expectations set from the start.
Once you find a possible candidate, communicate these expectations clearly, since knowing what you need from the sponsorship will help your nonprofit partner to fulfill their end of the bargain. Discuss topics like creative say and approval, how to establish public recognition, how you would like your brand represented, and so on.
Values & Goals
Sponsorship proposals come in many forms, and can include tons of varying information and detail. While looking through any sponsorship proposal, it is important to look out for signs that your company’s values or goals may not align with the proposal. You could, for example, discover that the nonprofit would only want to commit to putting your brand on their events for a few months, while you are looking for a longer-term agreement.
If the sponsorship doesn’t align with where you want to go, and where you imagine your company will be in 3, 5, or 10 years, keep looking. If the values of your company and the nonprofit you plant to sponsor don’t coincide, you will be setting yourself up for disappointment right from the start.
While you should certainly focus on the positive impact sponsoring a nonprofit could have, looking at the possible negative impact of not sponsoring the nonprofit can be equally as valuable. What would happen to your company if you didn’t sponsor? Would you be able to get the word out about yourself the way a nonprofit could? Will you choose to align yourself with another nonprofit? Would your company image be hurt if you didn’t take the sponsorship?
Similarly, consider what impact choosing to not sponsor could have on the nonprofit. Is your company the one most suited to sponsor this organization? Would public perception of the nonprofit be hurt if you don’t sponsor them? Would they be better off with a different sponsor, or would your brand help raise their visibility? Whether you sponsor or not, you will be making an impact, so be sure to assess all your options before you make a decision.
As you search for nonprofit sponsorship prospects, be sure to only seriously consider those with good reputations. It is relatively easy to find out whether or not a nonprofit has a good repudiation, especially since a quick Google will give you all the news and information you could need. Beyond simply researching public perception of the nonprofit, it is also a good idea to verify that they are a registered 501 c3, and that they have all their credentials in order.
Many nonprofit sponsorships include the chance to speak at or be featured at an event, which can be an amazing way to spread awareness of your brand. By sponsoring nonprofit events, and having your brand prominently displayed and mentioned throughout, you are showing potential customers the values of your company. Should you discover a nonprofit sponsorship with proposed events, think first about who will be attending and whether or not they would be interested in what your company has to offer.
Standing in front of the right audience can spark tons of opportunities, but if the audience wouldn’t be interested in you if you weren’t the sponsor of the event, things can go a bit sour. Assess what kind of people are interested in the nonprofit you are considering, and determine whether their interests overlap with the interests of your customers.
Sponsoring a nonprofit can be a great way to gain more brand recognition, and help your company to stand out from the competition. Alignment with a nonprofit not only boosts your advertising, but it can also make your company seem more appealing to prospective customers. If heightened recognition is the goal, choose recognizable nonprofits with track records of sponsored events.
Finally, one of the best ways to determine whether a nonprofit sponsorship is right for your company is by assessing how their staff treats yours. If you feel comfortable around the people running and managing the nonprofit, and your staff has good experiences collaborating with them, this is a great indication that you could create a highly successful sponsorship. Everyone should be benefiting from the opportunity, so be wary of anyone that seems negative, standoffish, or unwilling to communicate.
Check out more tips, tricks, and advice for nonprofits and philanthropic organizations by visiting Blackbird Philanthropy Advisors online today! While you’re there, be sure to take a look at our blog for lots more content just like this.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing have changed pretty much everything about how we live and work, and for nonprofit organizers, even the way you fundraise has changed. Fundraising and fostering donors used to be a social job, one that required lots of face-to-face interaction with donors at special events.
No longer able to engage donors in person, fundraisers everywhere are discovering new ways to keep donations coming and keep their donors invested in their cause. Here, we’re sharing 10 of the easiest, most creative, and most effective ways to engage your nonprofit donors virtually.
10. Share a Message From The Top
Nonprofit leaders and executives have difficult, time-consuming jobs, requiring them to be excellent delegators as well as leaders. Because of this, not all nonprofit leaders manage to personally thank or reach out to donors, or only make appearances on occasion for important moments. Now, with uncertainty and confusing consuming everyone’s lives, sharing a message from the top of your organization can help to put your donor’s minds at ease.
Recruit organization executives to share their take on the current state of the world, to offer words of advice or encouragement to donors and followers in the form of a letter or email, or to make a short video thanking everyone for their continued support through difficult times. Showing that the individuals at the top of your organization are paying attention to what the world and their donors are experiencing will help maintain active volunteer and donor active engagement in your cause.
9. Organize a Webinar
Was your organization planning to host special events, courses, seminars, or other events in 2020? Do you already have speakers, presenters, and panelists lined up and on the schedule? Have you already sold or handed out tickets to the event? Don’t worry about your hard work being for nothing just yet; pivot your event and create a webinar where you can virtually host presentations, panel discussions, interviews, and much more.
8. Send a Weekly E-Newsletter
With so much uncertainty in the world, it’s nice to have something you can depend on, which is why you should start sending a weekly e-newsletter to your donors. Keeping donors in the loop will not only help to remind current donors that your organization still exists and is doing good work, but can also help you to retain donors that may be unable to donate during the pandemic, encouraging them to come back and donate once they are able.
7. Create an Online Fundraising Campaign
If you have never tried fundraising online, this is the perfect moment to give it a go! There are tons of ways to set up fundraising campaigns online, most of which are so easy you can do so in just minutes. Some social media platforms now include built-in fundraising tools where followers can donate with the click of a button. You can choose a dedicated fundraising site like GoFundMe. You could even organize a simple campaign using PayPal or Venmo to collect donations.
6. Start a YouTube Channel
Like an e-newsletter, creating a weekly YouTube video to update donors and followers about what your organization is up to during the pandemic. If donations made by your supporters go to physical goods, create a short video showing the attaining and gathering of the items paid for with donor support. If donations go to providing community services, show your donors what facilities they contribute to or how those services are accessed by the community. Anything you might share in a newsletter can easily be shown in a video, and can help you to reach a wider range of donors.
5. Call Your Donors Personally
While you can’t meet face to face with your donors to thank them for their support, you can still reach out to them one-on-one over the phone. Personally calling and thanking donors is a great way to show them that their donation makes an impact, and will help them to feel appreciated by your organization. Even if no one picks up, a quick message personally thanking them could be the thing that brightens their day and reminds them to donate again.
4. Host a Live Q&A
Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook have ‘live’ functions, which allow users to stream themselves to their followers in real-time. For nonprofit organizations, this can be a great way to boost donor engagement, and answer some commonly asked questions in front of a sizable audience.
Share with your followers a few days beforehand that someone will be hosting a live Q&A from your organization, and keep reminding them up until the time you go live. Stick around for at least half an hour and encourage followers that tune in to ask questions and engage in the chat.
3. Post On Social Media
Using social media to raise awareness for nonprofit organizations is nothing new, but now, with mandated social distancing in place for the foreseeable future, social media will become your main way of communicating with your donors. Regularly posting to all your social media accounts and keeping your content consistent across platforms is super important for remaining at the top of your donor’s feeds, since everyone else is at home and working hard to boost their social media presence too! Consistency is key.
2. Collaborate with Other Nonprofits
Collaborating with another nonprofit involved in the same cause as your organization to post promotional or educational material on social media is a great way to expand your audience, and show that your organization has good relationships with other respected nonprofits. Cross-promote events, share each other’s posts, be active in the comments section, and do your best to highlight the best parts of each of your work.
1. Share Important News
Right now, everyone could use a little good news, which is exactly why you should be sharing every positive event with your donors. When important or exciting events or milestones are reached by your nonprofit, shout it from the rooftops - or at least on your social media. Share success stories, good news from the community, exciting or positive news relating to your cause, and more.
Some people give simply because they know they should, and offer up charitable donations out of some kind of moral obligation. While it is true that we should all do our best to give back, this sentiment of obligatory philanthropy is readily going out of style.
The next generation of philanthropists, the 20-somethings, are giving to those causes they feel personal connections to, rather than giving simply for the sake of giving. Young people like to engage personally with the causes they support, and are building philanthropy plans that reflect their interests and values.
If you are a 20-something and have been wondering whether it is time you create a philanthropy plan, the answer is: it’s never too early to start giving! Building the habit of generosity and learning support causes that impact you and your community from an early age will help you to feel more connected to your community, and will help you to build patterns of empathy.
Many younger people with charitable sensibilities shy away from engaging in philanthropy because they believe that they need to have tons of expendable income to make an impact. In truth, young philanthropists can contribute to nonprofit and community organizations in many ways, including but not limited to financially.
How You Can Give Back Without Having Money
While even the smallest financial donation is appreciated by nonprofit organizers, not all young philanthropists can afford to donate money. Instead, try donating something else, like your time. Volunteer, serve on boards or committees, offer professional pro-bono services, or find some other creative way of donating your time.
Many nonprofits often need additional volunteers to help with basic administrative tasks, to help organize or clean their facilities, or to simply spread the word about their cause. Donating your time is just as rewarding - if not more - than donating your money, and the sooner you begin contributing to causes you care about, the sooner you will feel the benefits of generosity.
Once you start giving back, we know you won’t want to stop, which is why we encourage you to keep changing your philanthropy plan as often as necessary. As you, your career, and your life grow, you will find new ways to contribute to the causes that mean the most to you. Creating a basic philanthropy plan in your 20s is just the first step.
Learn more about philanthropy and how you can make a difference when you visit Blackbird Philanthropy Advisors. We offer more information like this on our blog, where you can discover tips, tricks, and advice for volunteering, corporate giving, fundraising, and much more.
Philanthropy might be a big word, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a super kid-friendly topic! Kids loving giving and being generous, and often have a great sense of compassion and duty to their friends and family. Because of this, engaging your kids in conversations and activities to help them start thinking about philanthropy can be a great way to spend more time together, and to foster good habits for their future. Here are just a few simple ways you can get your kids excited about philanthropy.
Show Your Kids Positive Results
You can explain the concept of charitable giving to a child, and they will likely understand, but younger children may not fully be able to understand the real impact of philanthropy. A good way to help your kids understand the impact they can have is to choose a cause that offers visual results. Consider donating, for example, to charities offering treatment and surgery to children with cleft palate or cleft lips. Before and after photos of these kinds of operations can show your children exactly where their donations are going, making the action seem more important and real.
Volunteer as a Family
Younger children may not have the same understanding of the value of money as older children, which is why it can be extremely valuable to expose them to volunteer opportunities. Volunteering within your community is an excellent way to show them that there are things that can be done within your community and that they are an important part of said community. Volunteering can also help to solidify the real impact of philanthropy, showing your kids that there is value in work and satisfaction in helping others.
Encourage Kids To Think with Empathy
Shielding children from hardship and pain is an instinct, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share facts of life with your kids. If, for example, a person experiencing homelessness approaches you and your child, be kind and generous with that person. After, be sure to engage your child in a conversation regarding what kinds of things might lead to a person being homeless. Your kids can empathize with other people, and early fostering of this skill can help to make them more understanding, empathetic, and kind as adults.
Want to learn more about becoming involved in philanthropy? Visit Blackbird Philanthropy Advisors online today, and be sure to check out our blog for many more helpful tips, tricks, and bits of information!
Some nonprofit organizers make the mistake of believing that their work with donors is done once they have received donations, but in truth, the work of fostering relationships with and connecting with donors is never complete. The first donation should be the first of many, and if you have put in the time and effort to cultivating close relationships with your donors, this will happen naturally.
One of the best ways to create relationships with donors and to keep them interested in your organization is by regularly keeping in contact, and the easiest way to do this is through an e-newsletter. E-newsletters can be sent via email or text, and can be displayed on your website for visitors to peruse. The newsletter format helps to keep donors informed of the goings-on of your organization, and acts as a gentle reminder that you are still out there and doing work that needs to be funded.
Sending donors and supporters of your organization regular information regarding your nonprofit’s progress and work is also a good way to build trust, since your e-newsletter is the perfect place to demonstrate good stewardship.
What To Include In Your Newsletter
Whether you have written hundreds of newsletters, or are reading this as your first step to creating an e-newsletter for your nonprofit, the most important thing to remember is to include only information and stories your donors would be interested in. Magazines curate articles and content based on what their readers are interested in, which is why you don’t see much fashion in Bassmaster and you don’t often find mention of river safety in US Weekly.
Like entertainment publications, you should be sticking to the content your donors want to see, like success stories from people, organizations, or communities that have benefited from your work. Donors like to see the impact of their donations, and including success stories in your e-newsletters is a great way to do just that.
Other content that can help you to build your donor network and keep individuals engaged could include information on upcoming events, project and program updates, information on relevant news and current events, and information on how donors can volunteer, donate, and help.
Corporate philanthropy can boost a company’s credibility with consumers, but if the company isn’t working to create social impact within their own framework, donations can seem hollow and hypocritical. Unfortunately, many corporate leaders have a narrow view of what drives employee satisfaction, emphasizing the importance of a living wage or competitive wages over the general wellbeing of their employees.
Similarly, some corporate leaders mistakenly believe that employee values and interests align perfectly with those of the corporation, inevitably leaving their workforce in the dust while focusing their efforts on external stakeholders.
While investing in charitable causes can help you to boost company image, investing in internal social responsibilities can help boost workplace productivity, increase company earnings, and even make an environmental and social impact. Company leaders must take on a holistic approach to corporate wellness and create programs to help promote employee health, happiness, and achievement.
If you feel your organization could benefit from putting more emphasis on internal social responsibilities, your first step will be to actually consult those that exist internally. Your staff is going to be the most important source of advice, feedback, and insight throughout the process of building an internal CSR program, since they will be the ones most directly and immediately impacted by the changes you eventually make.
If you have never had any initiatives to bring employees into a conversation surrounding their own working environment and support from the corporate level, you likely discover issues or barriers within the framework of your organization that inhibit employee growth and success. Be sure to include employees from every level of the company to ensure you have well-rounded responses and a diverse set of opinions.
It is not uncommon for there to be issues at lower levels that go unnoticed by management or executives for years. Many employees become accustomed to picking up slack where corporate policies and pre-set procedures fail to create efficiency, and will rarely mention issues to people further up the management chain for fear of being seen as a troublemaker or an insubordinate employee. Because of this, it is vital to make a clear and welcoming space for your staff to speak their mind, and to share insights that they are uniquely qualified to provide.
Assess Corporate Values
As mentioned, there are many businesses that focus heavily on representing their corporate values through external social and environmental investment, but neglect to assess how they can enforce those same values internally. Take some time to reflect on the values your company is built on, the organizations you support, and whether you extend the same concern for your employees as you do for communities that affect your external stakeholders.
If, for example, you have donated to organizations working to provide better healthcare and health facilities to the community in which your business is located, you should consider how you have handled employee health benefits and access. How have you helped to promote the health and wellness of your staff? Have you invested in offering high-quality insurance policies? Do you offer healthy food and drink options? Do you have strict sick-leave policies, or do you encourage employees to take time to rest and recover from sickness, fatigue, and injury?
Knowing how well your projected values align with your internal practices can be a good jumping-off point for choosing which areas to focus on first
Set Realistic Goals
When first examining how your company could improve its internal social responsibilities, it can be tempting to try to tackle every problem at once. While it is good to be open to making improvements in as many areas as possible, it is also important to set realistic goals and deadlines for implementing new programs. Choose two or three I-CSR initiatives to spearhead each year, and allow for flexibility where timelines are concerned.
Try to avoid being too specific when you begin to choose which internal social responsibility initiatives you will support, and aim instead to choose larger initiatives with more potential for diverse participation and policies. For instance, an initiative to improve staff involvement with corporate philanthropy could include offering employees incentives to volunteer with specific organizations or allowing them to take part in choosing future organizations to support.
Accept Feedback & Measure Results
As you roll out new initiatives, it is important to continually monitor their progress and impact by both assessing the performance of the company and by seeking out feedback from your staff. If you are truly making change at every level and working to support initiatives that improve the working lives of all employees, you must be open to both criticism and approval and allow for staff to freely express how they would improve or alter current initiatives.
Once you have begun taking on more internal social responsibility, it is important to not allow your company to fall back on old habits. It is easy to say ‘good enough’ and call it quits after a few basic changes to your company, but those organizations that create success from the inside out are those that invest in the interests of their employees. As you and your team learn and grow, there will always be new ways to explore internal social responsibility and to realign corporate values and culture to fit more closely with the knowledge you have built, so be prepared to welcome constant evolution.
Learn more about corporate responsibility on our blog when you visit Blackbird Philanthropy Advisors online.
Despite the fact that fundraising is key to the success of most nonprofit organizations, individuals doing nonprofit work often struggle with how to approach the task of actually asking for donations. Many fundraisers feel fearful of seeming too “salesy,” or in other words, they worry about feeling like they are guilt-tripping people into donating to their cause. This fear prevents many incredible organizations from gaining sufficient donor support, all because their organizers and volunteers are too afraid of turning into “salespeople”.
Here’s the problem: technically, fundraisers are doing what salespeople do every day. Just like for-profit sales involves “selling a product” nonprofit work involves “promoting a cause”. Though nonprofit donors don’t usually walk away with a physical product, your job as a fundraiser is to convince them to buy into your cause. It’s sales!
Despite not wanting to seem salesy, fundraisers and nonprofit volunteers often fall into the trap of expecting donations rather than putting in the time and effort to build relationships with potential donors. Salespeople work to relate to their leads, to find common ground, and to grab their attention by offering them something they are already looking for. You don’t see salespeople grabbing people off the street, their customers come to them.
As a fundraiser, you need to be prepared to meet people where they are, rather than simply expecting them to hand over their hard-earned money to a cause just because donating to charitable causes is the right thing to do. You need to be ready to use stories and conversations to engage people in the issues, which is exactly what salespeople are doing when they talk to customers about their needs and wants in a product or service.
Back in the day, work as a fundraiser was largely about shining the light on yourself and your organization. Fundraisers were able to monologue in order to gain donations and support, but that was before people had the kind of access to information we have been afforded in the age of the Internet.
Now, people know what they want and are able to learn about the causes they care about independently of nonprofit organizations. It is no longer about you, but instead about listening to what it is your potential donors care about. Instead of saying “you should donate because”, or “our organization is incredible and therefore you should donate”, change the narrative to be more donor-centered.
Instead of a physical product, you are selling your donors assurance that their money is going to something they care about. You should be asking them which causes they care about, then tailoring your approach to appeal directly to those donors that are most likely to empathize with your cause. Basically, you need to stop going after donors who you know nothing about and start focusing on networking to connect with people who will resonate with the work being done by your organization.
The Sales Funnel for Nonprofits
The “sales funnel” is simply the name given to the order of operations/tasks required to make a sale. In the business world, there are a few schools of thought regarding how many steps there are in the funnel, but here, we’ll focus on the four that are most pertinent to nonprofit fundraising.
The first step of the “sales funnel” is to cultivate awareness for your brand or organization. This step could also be called the “leads” or the “prospecting” phase, since it is all about finding those potential donors. Here is where we see many old-school nonprofits fall short, since their awareness/prospecting phase usually involves more broadcasting than networking.
In order to find donors that will not only donate once but will become permanent supporters of your organization, it is important to dedicate the awareness phase to connecting with people who share a common interest in causes you support.
Once you have generated leads, the next step is to follow-up and to build a relationship with prospective donors. Like salespeople talk to their leads about their specific needs in a product or service, fundraisers talk to their donors about how they can secure their donation. This phase is all about taking the interest you piqued at the first meeting and converting it into an intent to engage.
In the nonprofit sector, this phase might more accurately be described as the “asking” phase, since this period is all about getting down to the nitty-gritty and actively asking prospects if they will be willing to commit to making a donation. In sales, this phase is where the salesperson offers the final price and waits for the customer to decide.
At this point, you’ll already have built a solid relationship with your prospective donors, so asking for donations won’t feel like you are pressuring or goading anyone into doing something they don’t want to do. Like in sales, the transaction is mutually beneficial, so practice asking for donations with confidence.
In business, the final step of the sales funnel is “sale”, but because nonprofit “sales” are about creating long-term donor relationships, stewardship is a far more appropriate descriptor. Once your donor has made their first contribution, your final step is to maintain a relationship and an open dialogue to encourage them to donate again in the future.
If you enjoyed this guide, and want to learn more about fundraising and building relationships with donors, visit Blackbird Philanthropy Advisors and check out our blog.
Every nonprofit leader and fundraising professional knows the amount of work it takes just to seek out funding opportunities, much less how difficult it can be to actually land a corporate donation, grant, or sponsorship. While individual donations and fundraising events help to manage day-to-day operations, these larger corporate donations can help to fund projects, community initiatives, organizational expansion, and so much more.
For some smaller nonprofit organizations, landing a corporate donation can feel like a long shot, especially if they have never sought out donations beyond crowdfunding or individual donations. In truth, nonprofits at every level can earn corporate donations, and you don’t have to have long-standing relationships in the world of business to get started. If you want to work with corporate sponsors to increase funding for your nonprofit, try using some of these strategies to get more donations.
Build Relationships at Every Level
A common misconception among smaller nonprofit groups is that you need to be connected at the highest level of a corporation in order to stand a chance of qualifying for donations. This misconception likely comes from the fact that nonprofit fundraising professionals and organization leaders do typically build relationships with corporate leaders, but this fact should not be misinterpreted to mean that opportunities lie only at the top.
When your organization is seeking out corporate donations it is important to take every possible opportunity to network, which means talking to people from every level of the companies you want to work with. Small, seemingly insignificant conversations about the work your organization does could end up being your chance to get a foot in the door. Networking is absolutely essential in nonprofit work, but be sure not to become so focused on getting to the top right away. Conversation with professionals at every level can become an incredible opportunity, and you’ll be amazed at how many connections you’ll be able to make if you are open to it. Some companies even have rules against donating to any organization without the request being attached to a relationship with someone at any level within the company.
Pinpoint Win-Win Opportunities
Before you approach a company about donating to your organization, it is important to do the work of learning everything you can about it. Take a close look at the products or services the company offers, how they market their products, what their sales are like, whether the company is on the rise, what its community relationships look like, and so on. The more you know about the company you plan to approach, the better equipped you will be to establish a positive rapport.
Once you have gathered as much information about the corporation you are interested in as possible, you will be able to pinpoint win-win opportunities that may exist for your two organizations. Imagine, for instance, that your nonprofit serves a particular community that is vested in the success of the corporation you are looking to work with, or vice versa. In this case, it would be mutually beneficial for the company to make a donation, since their donation would be going towards initiatives that indirectly benefit them.
Knowing as much as possible before you reach out to request a donation can also help you to tailor a personalized sponsorship package request, which will make your case far more compelling than one of the generic requests they frequently receive.
Be Open to Non-Financial Donations
While we often think of ‘donations’ as being monetary, corporate donors have much more to give than just money. While financial donations can be a massive help to any nonprofit, there are plenty of corporations that specialize in services that are much needed or could be used in a way that could benefit a nonprofit-- think law, food service, accounting, insurance, entertainment. Some companies may want to offer their specific services pro bono, outfit your nonprofit with the product(s) they make, or even volunteer their own time to your cause.
Remember those win-win opportunities you want to look for in order to land more corporate donations? This is a great example of exactly that kind of situation. Some companies may not even consider donating money to your nonprofit unless they are allowed to document that their employees volunteer with your organization. These kinds of non-financial donations can be extremely valuable, and should not be ignored or considered a lesser donation than a monetary one.
At Blackbird Philanthropy Advisors, we work closely with businesses to help them manage and organize their philanthropic efforts. If you want to learn more, we’re sharing tons of tips, tricks, and information for nonprofit and community organizers over on our blog.
In May, after the rollout of the CARES Act, the House of Representatives proposed and passed a second federal stimulus package. The $3 trillion package called the HEROES Act is slated for an upcoming Senate vote, and if passed, would extend both existing benefits and credits, and offer nonprofits that did not take advantage of the CARES Act the opportunity to apply.
The passing of the CARES Act has allowed for many nonprofits to remain afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, offering financial relief in the form of reimbursed payroll expenditures, unemployment benefits, employee retention credits, and more. If you were not able to or did not manage to apply for these benefits, the passing of the HEROES Act could give your nonprofit a second chance.
Should the HEROES Act pass the Senate vote, previously unregistered nonprofits will be able to apply for benefits like Payroll Protection Programs, for which coverage would be extended through December 2020.
Some nonprofits were unable to register in the first round due to limitations set by the CARES Act. Under the HEROES Act, PPP benefits are expanded to include nonprofits with more than 500 employees and all 501(c) employers (inlcuding unions, nonprofit news outlets, and housing cooperatives). Additionally, the HEROES Act will remove the affiliation rule used to block nonprofits associated with Planned Parenthood from receiving benefits.
With the future of the pandemic unclear, it may make the most sense for your organization to take advantage of the federal stimulus HEROES Act in order to supplement its resources for the coming months. Here are some more key points of the HEROES Act to talk over with your trusted financial advisors:
Get ahead of the curve. Now is the perfect time to reach out to legal and financial counsel to talk about what the best options are for your organization. If your nonprofit is located in Indiana and looking for trustworthy counsel, we recommend reaching out to Kruggel Lawton CPA for your financial and accounting needs, and SouthBank Legal for all legal matters. Looking for recommendations elsewhere? Feel free to reach out to me for a referral.
We are not attorneys or accountants. We offer ancillary support as nonprofit administration consultants and are happy to help answer all your questions regarding this or other topics relating to nonprofits. Feel free to reach out using our contact form below for answers to your nonprofit questions, or if you simply need a little help getting through this tough period and coming out on your feet.
Independent Sector is the only national membership organization that brings together the charitable community—a diverse set of nonprofits, foundations, and corporations—to advance the common good. The charitable sector provides millions of people with powerful, independent, and voluntary methods for addressing the issues and expressing the values most important to them.
Small Nonprofits (Fewer than 500 Employees)
Large Nonprofits (More than 500 Employees)
As nonprofit leaders, you’re facing unprecedented times in managing your workforce while also trying to maintain the level of quality in community services you’ve provided before the COVID19 crisis.
Last Friday, the $2 trillion federal stimulus package "CARES Act" passed that could offer direct relief for your organization.
I am writing to provide a summary for you of strategic options to consider as you wade through the health and economic crisis.
Under the CARES Act, unemployment benefits are confirmed upon application AND benefits are upped an additional $600/week (bringing total benefit to $800-$900/wk).
If you think it’s inevitable that you may eventually have to lay off workers soon, it might make more sense to lay off your staff immediately to unlock this program's benefits. Do the math, see if this makes sense for your team members and your operations. This program is here to help you get through this.
The CARES Act also provides up to $10,000 advance for payroll expenditures (this is called an Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan, approved within three days of application). If you then plan to “rehire” May 1, you could use this loan to help get you through the month of May. Then by June, it’s likely (fingers crossed) the quarantine will be over and you can fully re-open to meet client needs. This is really more like a grant, it does not need to be repaid.
This route might be able to get you through at least one month of payroll and then some payroll relief for the month of May. Something to talk to your financial advisors about, every organization is unique and requires a unique strategy.
ADDITIONAL CARES ACT BENEFITS FOR NONPROFITS
If you haven’t done so already, reach out to your legal and financial counsel as soon as you can to determine what the best options are for your organization. In Indiana, we recommend Kruggel Lawton CPAs (Margene Zink mzink[@]klcpas.com) for accounting information and South Bank Legal for legal matters. Elsewhere, let me know if you’re looking and I will get you a good referral.
I am not a lawyer or a CPA. I am offering ancillary support as a nonprofit administration consultant who wants to see your important organization get through this whole and on your feet.
Feel free to reach out using our contact form if you have specific questions or need assistance during this tough period.
You’re excited. You’re a 501c3, you’ve got a great mission and now you’re ready to get some of those grant dollars you’ve heard so much about! Where do you begin? The good news is – it’s true, there are a lot of opportunities to find funders who want to invest in your cause. The bad news is, you may be a ways off from getting their attention. It’s especially difficult for brand new organizations to receive grant funding without 2-3 years of success under their belts to show they’re worth the investment. Hang tight and arm yourself with our list to get you and your team on the path to grant funding success. This article will give you an insider’s track guide to everything you’ll need to gather and have on-hand to begin applying for grants.
1. BALANCE YOUR BUDGET
Many major funders admit, the first thing they do when they read a grant application is go straight to the budget.
9 times out of 10, a grant application will require a copy of your organization’s annual budget.
On the budget, funders are looking to see that you’re fiscally solvent, fiscally responsible, and competent. How does a budget show them these things?
2. COVER YOUR BASES
99.9999% of grant funders will require that you are 501c3 tax exempt organization. Here’s a list of the all the items the vast majority of grants require.
Many grant funders will also ask for a deeper dive of information that includes:
3. KNOCK 'EM DEAD
Alright, you’ve covered all your bases and now you’re ready to actually fill out the application. What kind of information will you need to fill out the application?
The vast majority of grant application and letters of inquiry will ask for these four elements for the program or project you’re requesting funding for:
Many times, you’ll also be asked to include one or more (or all!) of the following:
4. GET IT RIGHT
Finally, there are a number of random little red flags that may pop up around your application. Because grants are hugely competitive to win, a red flag might throw your whole application off. If you can get yourself grant-ready starting NOW, you won’t have to worry about that when you’re all set to apply.
As a marketing professional, I have been on both sides of the same equation. As a corporate leader for a global company, I made decisions to ensure our local community was supported by making charitable contributions to worthy nonprofits. Later, when I worked for the nonprofit Kelly Cares Foundation, this arrangement flipped. I was the one asking corporate executives for charitable contributions to my nonprofit. Now, as the Director of Marketing at Gibson, seeing both sides of the equation and matching those experiences with our own set of priorities has me seeing the whole arrangement from a new vantage point.
As soon as I joined the Gibson team, I asked myself: Are we fully embracing corporate giving? I knew right away, Gibson is an incredibly generous company. It’s very clear we have a culture of servant leadership from the top down and our donations and time prove this. But what difference is it making? Should we have a plan for giving, just like we have a plan for every other part of our company? Of course, the answer is yes.
Research shows nearly 90% of consumers say they’re more likely to buy from a company that supports activities to improve the community. With a statistic like that, do employers really have a choice when it comes to giving and their social reputation? I can enthusiastically say no! But this doesn’t mean throwing together a disjointed giving program that exists outside the bounds of your company’s primary goals.
Does your organization have its core values clearly outlined? At Gibson our core values are genuinely our fundamental beliefs, making it a natural starting point to establish a giving strategy. Your core values should align right along with your corporate giving dollars and time. Next time a nonprofit asks your company for a gift, the first thing you can do is see how partnering with that nonprofit fits into your core values.Leadership must buy into the benefits that come with being a good community steward. Establishing your company as a leader in corporate giving comes with its own set of challenges. You can start today by asking yourself: What is the motivation for my corporate giving? Recruitment, retention, relationships, making an impact? These are all great reasons to take part in giving.
In 2019, Gibson embarked on a path to take our corporate social investment very seriously. We partnered with Blackbird Philanthropy Advisors to measure and monitor our social impacts through surveys, auditing, research, and expertise. Blackbird Philanthropy Advisors sat with us to create our baseline and forge a clear path for future goals that are aligned with our priorities and culture.
During the process we found giving back doesn’t stop at sending in checks and sponsoring tables at charity events but extends into how we are treating our team members and valuing their time and efforts in and out of the office. When the numbers rolled in, we were astounded. When you read through our first-ever impact report or watch the impact report video, both produced in conjunction with Blackbird Philanthropy Advisors, you’ll see we found our company was more generous than we ever even knew. In fact, corporate cash contributions coupled with fundraising, volunteer service, and employee gifts added up to an astounding $869K community investment across all locations last year alone. We also found Gibson has invested in 91 nonprofits and our employees volunteer in 138 different nonprofits throughout Michigan and Indiana. This is resounding evidence the communities we live in need us and rely on us to be there for them in more ways than we ever imagined.
Gibson made a strategic decision—we want to be known as a leader in corporate giving. Looking for ways to innovate through giving, we listened to our employees and offered them the opportunity to volunteer at community nonprofits during the workday. This led to larger groups wanting to participate, allowing us to make an even greater impact while encouraging teams to grow together. In the end, is there really a better way to motivate employees or recruit new talent than being able to show the real impact we are making on those in need, our community, and one another?
Equally as exciting, I will be working with our current nonprofit partners to get creative. Instead of us supporting that annual dinner with just tickets to an event, we are asking the nonprofits to schedule tours and volunteer opportunities with our employees. We hope this will boost overall engagement amongst our team members and create a peer-to-peer bond that otherwise may never have existed. We are confident this will promote philanthropy among employees beyond what we give here as a company at Gibson.
We encourage you to join us in this endeavor into strategic corporate philanthropy. Be bold and dive deep! As you begin, keep these six quick tips from our partner Blackbird Philanthropy Advisors in mind.
THE DO’S AND DON’TS OF CORPORATE GIVING
If you want to dive into strategic corporate philanthropy, the first thing you need to do is consider your motivation. Is it networking and to generate new leads? To support causes important to you as an executive or your entire team? Is it to position your company as a good corporate citizen because you think it will help you in some other way? It is because it just feels like the right thing to do? There’s no right or wrong answer here. But asking yourself the “why questions” will lead you to the right strategy.
Whatever your motivation is, when nearly 90% of consumers say they’re more likely to buy from a company that supports activities to improve society, then you need to integrate corporate philanthropy into your marketing and sales strategy. (REFERENCE: Creel, Timothy (2012). “How Corporate Social Responsibility Influences Brand Equity.” Management Accounting Quarterly.)
You should also consider the benefits corporate giving has on your staff. Recruitment and retention will become increasingly more dependent on whether your company can give employees the sense their job is making an impact in some way.
No one can tell you how much time or money you should be giving. This is a decision for your executive team and completely dependent on your core values, size, revenue, and business goals. What we can say is that you need to make sure you are being strategic about every effort you make. If you do not take the steps to plan and have a calculated purpose for every donation and volunteer hour, these resources could very likely be wasted.
Once you know your WHY, the HOW will be more straightforward. Engaging in philanthropy as a HR recruitment and retention tool might lead you to surveying staff on their preferences and capacity. While engaging in philanthropy as a marketing effort might lead you to analyzing charitable giving opportunities as a path to developing relationships that will lead to sales.
Contact Blackbird Philanthropy Advisors today to get started on crafting a strategy today.
Written by Rob Clarfeld for Forbes
Americans are a generous people, giving away more than $410 billion in 2017, according to Giving USA, with more than 70% of that donated by individuals. Most people express their philanthropic desires by writing checks to the various charities that are important to them. Certainly direct giving is easy and convenient, but often lacks tax efficiency or a longer-term strategic focus.
For individuals and families that want their philanthropy to continue for generations or are concerned with income tax minimization efficiency, alternative options to direct giving include setting up a private foundation or contributing to a donor advised fund (DAF). There are positives and negatives to each.
Building a Legacy with a Private Foundation
For those with multigenerational wealth and the desire to leave a lasting legacy, a private foundation offers a lot of benefits. It adds prestige to the family name and can teach future generations the importance of being charitable and contributing to society. A private foundation also gives the donors total control over which qualified charities receive grants. Family setting up a private foundation can control the succession of trustees and board members for as long as the foundation remains in existence.
On the downside, private foundations are more complicated than DAFs. They require time-delaying filings and other paperwork to establish them, and there are upfront legal fees and annual maintenance costs for the required tax filings and recordkeeping. Private foundations also are required by law to distribute a minimum of 5% of their assets annually and must pay an annual excise tax of 1-2% of net investment income. Generally, those opting for private foundations endow them with a significant contribution and have multigenerational charitable intentions.
Let Someone Else Handle the Hassles
Conversely, donor advised funds are established immediately and at no cost, which explains their growing popularity. Most brokerage custodians—Fidelity, Schwab, TD Ameritrade, etc.—can have DAFs set up and running the same day. Once they are established, the fund sponsor handles all administrative functions. The tax benefits from donations to DAFs also are superior to that of private foundations. The limitation on deducting charitable donations (as a percentage of adjusted gross income on one’s tax return) is the same as for direct giving, 60% for cash donations versus 30% for private foundations, and 30% verses 20% for donated securities. Also, there is more privacy around DAFs, compared to private foundations that can be researched in publicly available databases, which often creates a flow of unwanted solicitations. As stated above, DAFs don’t pay an excise tax on investment gains.
A consideration that I’ve found to be more theoretical is that unlike a private foundation, although DAF donors advise on potential grants, the sponsor has the ultimate authority to approve or deny recommendations. There are also restrictions on what types of organizations are eligible for DAF grants.
Bunching of Deductions
The overarching benefit of both private foundations and DAFs is the ability to control the timing of when you receive a tax deduction and when charities receive funds. This can make a big difference in a year when one has an exceptionally high income – large bonus, vesting of restricted company stock, sale of a business, or winning the lottery – when charitable deductions are of greater value, and its beneficial to spread out payments to charities over several years. Both vehicles allow the deduction in the year you gift to the vehicle, while the charities receive the funds in the year you choose. Further, the recently enacted tax law, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, may make the “bunching” of tax deductions into a single year adventurous for some taxpayers (See: Preserving Tax Benefits For Charitable Contributions)
Whether the desire to do good results in simply writing a check, contributing to a DAF or setting up a private foundation, maximizing the tax benefits of charitable contributions can be complicated and should be discussed with your tax or financial advisor.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ROB CLARFELD
Rob Clarfeld is founder of Clarfeld Financial Advisors, a leading wealth management firm with offices in Westchester, N.Y., and New York City that provides comprehensive financial and estate planning, sophisticated tax and compliance expertise, and investment management services. Rob is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Financial Planner® and Personal Financial Specialist with more than 30 years of experience advising financially successful families and family-owned businesses. With a focus on robust and individualized family office platforms, Rob has been Barron’s #1 Independent Wealth Advisor in New York for nine consecutive years, and is the #1-ranked New York independent advisor on the Forbes Top Wealth Advisors list. To find out more, visit: clarfeld.com ** Please Note: Rankings and/or recognition by unaffiliated rating services and/or publications should not be construed by a client or prospective client as a guarantee that he/she will experience a certain level of investment performance.
Written by Alina Dizik for Chicago Booth. Published June 11, 2018.
A company, if it clearly conveys during the recruiting process its intent to benefit society, can see lasting benefits, research finds. University of Chicago’s Daniel Hedblom, Queen’s University’s Brent R. Hickman, and List used data to track how advertising a company’s support of a nonprofit impacted recruiting and work quality.
To do this, they performed an experiment that doubled as a business venture, which involved launching a data-collection consulting company and hiring 170 part-time workers in 12 US cities. The initial job descriptions they posted were identical, but the researchers tweaked the job details in later emails. When people inquired about positions, they received an email saying the work would consist of either data entry or data entry to benefit underprivileged children. The researchers also varied pay rates, offering some applicants $15 an hour and others $11.
When hired, employees were assigned data-entry tasks that involved looking at Google Street View. Some were asked to tally the number of broken windows or potholes in each image, which produced data that was used in some cases to help identify safe areas near schools where administrators were trying to help students avoid gang violence, and in other cases to benefit Uber. (List is a consultant for Uber.)
Workers who expressed interest in a data-collection company, created as part of a study, were more likely to apply when the position’s social impact was advertised. 1
Helping schoolkids involved a social impact—and had a big effect on recruiting. When that social mission was mentioned in emails, the company saw 26 percent more people interested in the job, comparable to the 33 percent bump the company saw when it offered $15 an hour. Advertising jobs that had a social mission improved the pool of applicants, with no additional, and potentially expensive, recruiting tactics required. “This generation of young workers is more compelled than previous generations to do social good,” List says.
People who accepted a job originally advertised as CSR-driven were also more effective at work. Employees in the CSR group were more productive, analyzing images in a shorter amount of time than other workers. And while all employees could work any number of hours over a 10-day period, those in the CSR group worked longer hours.
Both women and men were affected by corporate responsibility, but in different ways. Women were 40 percent more productive in accurately analyzing Google Street View images as a result of CSR and worked an hour more per day. Men produced higher-quality results but did not increase the number of images that they analyzed. “Together, these insights suggest that CSR draws out higher output from women and higher quality from men,” the researchers write. “CSR should not be viewed as a necessary distraction from a profit motive, but rather as an important part of profit maximization similar to other non-pecuniary incentives.” Customers and employees, List assures, will still view CSR as authentic, even if it is recognized to boost profits.
While the results suggest that CSR can have strong, positive effects, List recommends companies keep the findings on moral licensing in mind and monitor employee behavior. He notes that because so much behavior is driven subconsciously, simply making employees aware of the tendency to couple good actions with bad could counteract the bias.
University of Chicago Booth School of Business’s Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation, this guide provides four research-based ideas you can implement today. The Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation is the Chicago Booth business school's social impact hub and destination for people tackling complex social and environmental problems. This information is provided by the Rustandy Center in their downloadable e-book here.
3. Make Your Fundraiser Exceptional
Reframing your annual fundraiser as a unique opportunity can drum up higher donations. Abigail Sussman, associate professor of marketing at Chicago Booth, finds that minor differences in the way a charity frames its donation plea, as either a regular occurrence or an exceptional one, can make a big difference in how likely people are to donate.
For example, researchers altered the wording in online ads for the Alzheimer’s Association’s annual charity walk, so that one ad read “Held annually for Alzheimer’s,” while another read “Only once a year for Alzheimer’s.” People were more likely to click through and donate for the latter, when the walk appeared to be an exceptional rather than a regular occurrence.
4. Give Suggestions... Carefully
Not all donors are created equal. Whether first-time donor or seasoned philanthropist, offering suggested donations can help guide their giving with positive results.
“Small changes can impact people’s choices, especially for people who aren’t sure what their actual preferences are,” says Urminsky, who is conducting research with Indranil Goswami, assistant professor of marketing at the School of Management at the University at Buffalo. Urminsky and Goswami find that setting higher default donation amounts increases how much a donor gives, but can reduce the number of donors. When targeting likely donors, suggesting larger amounts can be beneficial. If boosting participation is the primary goal, setting a low default can increase donation rates.
When setting default donations, understanding your donors and their commitment to giving is key.
In an era where the reputation of a business is driven heavily by corporate social responsibility (CSR), charity partnerships have many benefits for corporate companies. Read on to find out how a charity partnership can enhance publicity and improve brand awareness.
Written by: Gary Drew on behalf of HR Technologist. Read the full article here.
The reputation of a business is driven heavily by corporate social responsibility (CSR) these days and is an element that every organization should be growing. This article looks into the importance of charity partnerships and how they allow the ability to differentiate a brand - in terms of status, employability, and value. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should set up a partnership with every charity that you come across; the not-for-profit organization that you choose to support should reflect your business’ values.
A Value-Driven Approach
Workers are increasingly seeking employment in organizations that are meaningful to them and are in line with their own values. In fact, millennials have been known to take pay cuts in order to work for a company that is aligned with their own values and purpose.
In addition to attracting and retaining like-minded and motivated employees to your organization, a strong CSR strategy creates a community and gives employees a sense of purpose. It helps humanize corporate organizations and, in some cases, helps to identify a brand’s purpose - giving an idealistic view of how you want to appear to your audience.
Charity partnerships are often more effective and beneficial than donations as they pave the way for new sources of income. The announcements of such collaborations also enhance publicity, leading to improved PR opportunities and brand awareness. Additionally, these types of partnerships can help towards combating national and global crisis situations, such as, unemployment, climate change, homelessness and other issues.
There are many instances that show just how strong a corporate charity partnership can be and the difference they can make. Take SOFII’s fundraising masterpiece, ‘I Wish I’d Thought of That’ as an example. This campaign is based on the alliance: ‘Gay and Lesbians Support the Miners’, which raised £11,000 to support the Miners’ Strike (in 1980’s money) whilst overseeing the first commitment of LGBT rights into Labour Party Policy motion in 1984 - thanks to the block support of the National Union of Mineworkers. The original campaign faced many challenges as it was an attempt to raise funds and encourage support for an unpopular cause, but this just created more awareness than anticipated.
Despite being an unlikely union, it’s one that all organizations can learn from. When choosing which charity to approach and collaborate with, you should be asking yourself the following:
What should you look for in a charity partnership?
A partnership is a two-way thing and both the company and charity should complement and benefit from each other in order for it to be successful. It’s important to make sure that the reasoning behind the partnership is also aligned with the customer’s needs and interests.
CSR efforts – as discussed before – help to humanize a brand, which is important as purchasing decisions are often based on emotional reasons. So, if your target market has an interest in tackling environmental issues, teaming up with a charity that supports this cause, will have more of an impact than if you were to endorse a homelessness charity, for example. In addition to a relevant cause, what else should you be looking for in the charity that you decide to team up with?
Enthusiasm and Integrity
The reputation, attitude, and enthusiasm of charity are very important aspects to look for – it is important to strike a partnership with a charity, which shows a willingness to go the extra mile and tenacity to deliver results. Corporate partnerships will play a huge role in the reputation of your business, so it is important to ensure that you are making the right decision. It is not uncommon for charities to be victims of a scandal or crisis and teaming up with an untrusted charity would be a risky move.
Professionalism and Collaboration
The ability to work closely together and align corporate communications in a professional manner is important. You need to know all about your partner’s upcoming news and announcements in advance. If they are planning to carry out a controversial campaign or announce some negative news that might impact your business, it is important to be prepared for press enquiries and interviews, so make sure you have the ability for strong communications and forward planning abilities with relevant contacts.
In addition to having aligned objectives and goals, your charity partnership should also offer long-lasting benefits. It is important that the charity you decide to partner up with can be upfront and transparent about how you can work together and the benefits that they can offer.
Whether this is a dedicated page to you on their website, a chance to be a part of photo opportunities and other public relations opportunities or even invited to corporate events, it is beneficial to work closely together so people (stakeholders and customers) are aware that you are a part of endorsing that particular charity.