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.
Written by: Elina Trang and YeonJae Choi for AdWeek
In today’s socially conscious environment and political climate when a company takes responsibility for its actions and the subsequent impact on communities, employees and stakeholders, the results go a long way.
This is no secret to companies in various industries. The Sustainable Investment Institute (Si2) recently reviewed the current state of companies’ sustainability reporting and reported that websites of 92% of S&P 500 companies included disclosure on sustainability, with 395 companies (78%) issuing full reports on the subject. The rising role of chief sustainability officers (CSO) is itself an indication for sustainability’s coming of age. In 2000, no one has heard of such a job title in the corporate world, but the role of CSO has become more and more important as consumers expect companies to address their impact on the environment and share responsibility in solving some of the world’s biggest problems.
Further along the road, investor interest in environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors of corporations has also soared. Sustainable investing constitutes a major force across global financial markets. Socially responsible investing has grown by 34% to $30.7 trillion over the past two years, according to the latest report from the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance (GSIA). Responsible investment now commands a sizable share of professionally managed assets in each region, ranging from 18% in Japan to 63% in Australia and New Zealand. The largest three regions based on the value of their sustainable investing assets are Europe, the United States and Japan.
In today’s socially conscious environment, customers are willing to spend more of their money with businesses that prioritize corporate social responsibility.
Multiple facets of the subject of sustainability have been examined by academic researchers. At Kent State University, marketing professor Christopher Groening has been studying different micro- and macro-level conditions through which customer satisfaction and corporate social responsibility affect firm value. Professor Groening launched Corporate Social Responsibility Public Perception Quotient, CSRPPQ. The goal of this project is to collect and analyze consumer perceptions of corporate social responsible and irresponsible activities. More than 36,000 consumers have taken the survey. CSRPPQ can show firms where consumer perception of firm CSR activities differs from firm CSR endeavors. Thus, a firm can understand when it should devote more resources to create greater awareness of their CSR activities. Consumer perception is important to monitor because perceptions drive actions. A firm’s CSR actions affect the consumers’ perception of the firm and their choice of relationship with the firm.
What does this all mean for businesses? In today’s socially conscious environment, customers are willing to spend more of their money with businesses that prioritize corporate social responsibility. Improving CSR business practice and CSRPPQ not only help build a positive brand image, but also have a positive impact on improving customer loyalty and contributing directly to the bottom line, as shown in the examples below.
In spring 2019, IBM’s Chicago office opened its door to the members of the American Marketing Association collegiate chapter. Undergraduate and MBA students learned about ways that IBM differentiates their strategies by focusing on people, process, technology and research in the ever-changing world. IBM especially shared the value they have placed on sustainability and how they are addressing sustainability areas with their technology. IBM has been developing the ways to provide Africa with enhanced solutions to their infrastructure, such as water quality management and healthcare, by leveraging IBM Watson’s capability under the name of “Lucy Project.” With this project, not only is IBM consistently putting efforts into creating further sustainable innovation and new business opportunities, which align with their mission statement, and they are also contributing to sustainable growth of the whole world.
In a different industry but in a similar vein, Patagonia’s recent announcement regarding limiting sales of certain products in an effort to minimize ecological damage bolstered their brand personality: passion toward the environment. The Patagonia Nano Puff Vest, also known as the iconic Power Vest and considered the gold standard of the industry, will no longer be sold to some firms. The company is getting more selective in terms of which corporate sales clients they take because it wants to focus on selling to do-gooder companies, companies with a charity element or those committed to supporting social causes and protecting the environment. With this bold move, Patagonia will be able to convey its core messages to consumers more effectively and develop consumer trust simultaneously by saving the planet audaciously.
The fact that this announcement triggered a market shock shows it already has a strong brand power and identity. Patagonia is also communicating its core brand values, which highlight the beauty of integrity and durability, by releasing a documentary film “Artifishal” depicting the loss of wild fish habitat, which is attributable to human arrogance to nature. Similarly, Tesla’s consistent endeavor to developing the future of zero emissions, such as generating clean energy and expanding global Supercharger networks, has boosted the overall public engagement with the concept of sustainability.
Today’s consumers want companies to be honest and transparent with what they do. In addition to demanding products or services that are accountable for social and environmental impact, they are becoming more aware of the importance of CSR and are eager to be part of it. In light of the shift in consumer preferences toward being more socially and environmentally conscious, concentrating on the theme of sustainable future will offer values to companies and to the society at large. As the business competition is getting fierce and essential natural resources are depleting more rapidly than we expected, corporate sustainability is indispensable for marketers to draw long-term growth and be more competitive.
CSR and corporate sustainability go well beyond specific concerns about exploiting resources ethically and economically. These are effective approaches for businesses to build long-lasting and genuine relationships with consumers. Many companies have kept abreast of social problems and environmental challenges and turned them into new economic opportunities. They are likely to have a high CSRPPQ, a healthy relationship with their customers. Those with less than ideal CSRPPQ need to spend more effort doing good or make their CSR positions and endeavors are known. In marketing communications such as advertisements or promotional messages, companies need to be aware of and sensitive about environmental topics. Otherwise, they may have a big price to pay from consumer backlash. Overall, communicating your core CSR values and your related actions will help build a more loyal customer base.
Want your company to be more involved? Great. Ask your employees what they're passionate about.
By Tom GimbelFounder and CEO, LaSalle Network@TomGimbel
Published by INC. Magazine on February 26, 2016
Over the weekend, I joined about 50 of my employees (that's around 1/3 of the company) at Dance Marathon benefiting Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago. It's an eight-hour dance fest that raised almost $400,000 for the foundation. My company has participated for four years, and two years ago I decided to make us a corporate sponsor.
So what's unique about that?
Our involvement with Dance Marathon didn't start with me. It's not my charity. It wasn't my idea; I wasn't involved at all.
In fact, when one of our employees started promoting it internally, I was irritated because before we knew it, we could have hundreds of emails floating around for any charity, and that can result in apathy due to saturation.
When I voiced this concern to the employee who sent the email, she told me that she wasn't the only one involved. There were four others. Then five. Then ten.
You get the picture.
So I decided to participate with them, and my kids have joined us almost every year. Last year we had over 30 dancers. This year, over 50.
The point is, I allowed my employees to sell me on their passion. Rather than as a CEO, force my passion on them. In almost 18 years, I've never forced an employee to donate time or money to a charity of "mine."
I've seen too many company leaders make that mistake and force their employees to participate in something, rather than letting them develop a passion.
As a CEO of a high-growth company (doubling sales at least every five years), I ask a lot of my team. They don't have to support my charities. But seeing them get passionate about a charity on their own and working hard to raise money on their own motivates me. It shows me what they are all about -- in their job and outside of it.
The ironic thing is, the people who are the most involved in the charity are huge producers at work. They've all been with the company at least four years and they all work hard.
I am always a bit skeptical of the employee who wants to only talk about philanthropy, especially when they've only been with a company a few months. But I know that the reason so many employees participated was because it was led by key influencers of our company.
Of the four, only one is in management, so it's truly peers leading peers. It's awesome. Now I'm passionate about the cause, which creates more synergy for them and not so coincidentally has helped business, as well.
Doing well for others doesn't have to be mutually exclusive to helping your business.
So my advice is don't just donate to your own causes; let your employees' passions help guide you. The important thing is giving back, but creating an environment where your employees can lead you is motivating and creates passion.
Our brains are hardwired to serve. Here is why businesses and their employees benefit from embracing meaningful causes.
By Susan SteinbrecherCEO, Steinbrecher and Associates@SteinbrecherInc
Published by Inc. Magazine, May 31, 2019
At a recent celebration for Harvard Business School's Class Day, speaker Michael R. Bloomberg, extolled the value of graduates aligning themselves with companies that were deeply committed to philanthropic efforts, stating that at Bloomberg, "...philanthropy gives us a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining talent -- and it's as good for the bottom line as anything a company can do."
Literally translated, the word philanthropy means "love of humanity." By very definition, philanthropy is only philanthropy when it stems from giving without personal gain. It begins and ends with a selfless motive -- that of helping one's fellow man without seeking recognition or reward.
Most of us know that charity is its own reward. The true wealth of charity is measured by good deeds, not ego and material gain. That's why many affirm that they get back far more than they give. In other words, what they receive is the joy of love in action, the manifestation of their gift of time or money in such a way as to make a visible difference.
Interestingly, good people doing good work experience benefits that go beyond just their contentment in the knowledge that they are advancing the well-being of humanity. A well-known study examined the brain activity of a group of people, each of whom was given money ($128) and asked to make choices about whether to keep the money for themselves or to give some or all of it to charity anonymously. The outcome was fascinating. The participants who gave the money to charity experienced an extremely high level of pleasure. The researchers concluded that, "The warm glow that many donors get from giving to charity involves the same brain mechanisms that evoke pleasurable sensations after sex, eating good food, and using heroin or other drugs."
Companies that embrace philanthropic efforts enjoy significant advantages that contribute to the mutual benefit of both management and employees on every level such as:
Loyalty and morale rise.
This occurs in direct correlation to the enhanced sense of personal engagement and connectedness of the employees since they are proud to be associated with a company that cares and does good for others.
Employees experience an increased sense of personal satisfaction.
The reward that goes with being part of a meaningful community effort is something bigger than themselves that makes a difference in the lives of others.
This happens at a higher level since all employees are working side by side together towards a common goal.
A sense of accomplishment.
The collective group can work together to achieve something for the community while serving as a profound team-building event for the employees.
We've been taught since we were children that it is better to give than to receive. This Chinese proverb illustrates the intrinsic worth of charitable works:
"If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody."
What happens when your nonprofit is engulfed in scandal? Or what if you have a board member or highly visible donor who’s reputation is significantly on the rocks? As always, being prepared for crisis and scandal is always the best policy. Every nonprofit leader should know when and how to act in times of trouble. Managing these crises is especially important when it comes to fundraising and mission advancement.
Fundraising is all about managing relationships. In times of controversy or not, nonprofit executives should be carefully navigating through their relationships with stakeholders. When there is a crisis, the trust they’ve built along the way will have the biggest impact on successfully wading through the times of murky waters. In general, it is good to have open, honest communication with all of your stakeholders so a crisis doesn’t tip you over the edge but makes everyone come out stronger.
If news breaks that a major donor was engulfed in scandal, a nonprofit executive should remain calm and act swiftly with integrity. A solution and plan of action to mitigate the crisis should be immediately ready to go. This includes knowing who to pull into a room for immediate strategy, who to contact first, and who are the best people to carry out the plan. Communicating clearly, concisely is paramount.
Your main strategy will need to be disassociating your mission with the person experiencing the scandal. Your core group of loyal stakeholders should continue to feel that you are an organization they can trust. Continue to align their passions and initial interest in the work of your organization with the impact and mission you make in the world. The scandal could, in effect, give you an opportunity to engage your stakeholders in a closer, meaningful way that ignites even more respect and loyalty than before.
If you give money to charities and encourage your employees to volunteer, then you should be holding that money accountable. You can start simple to set goals and monitor your impact on the community and your company by starting to track these five measures right away.
Want to go a few steps further?
Learn more about the LBG measurement tool.
By using the LBG model, measuring your impact from year to year is pretty easy. You track INPUTS (what's contributed), OUTPUTS (what happens), and IMPACTS (what changes).
Yes, this takes some work but it's worth it. Why are you are investing thousands of dollars into but not measuring where it's going or what impact you're really making? Think strategically with every gift -- ask yourself why questions and how it will add value to your company and the people who make up your company.
Planned Corporate Community Investment programs has many clear benefits.
BLACKBIRD PHILANTHROPY ADVISORS:
We are here so you can be certain you're making an undeniable impact on the world around you. Our main services center on starting or perfecting corporate philanthropic giving programs (for both corporate giving newbies and veterans). We work smart and use data to determine trends and impact to help set you on a more strategic path in philanthropy. We also provide public relations, special events work, and corporate communications services so you can make sure the good you're doing is recognized.
Our Philanthropy Management option is perfect for companies who dream of having in-house philanthropy experts but who aren't quite large enough to hire a full time community affairs staff member. Philanthropy management can also be a good addition to your existing marketing teams and can add an expert layer of hands on deck without having to add a full or even part-time position.
Should your company publish a community philanthropy investment / Corporate Social Responsibility annual report?
What do Exxon Mobile, Toyota, Coca Cola Berkshire Hathaway, and Apple all have in common? In addition to being some of the most successful companies in world history, they are all also leaders in Corporate Social Responsibility. Entire teams are deployed to build strategic implementation plans to invest in the communities they serve. They develop their community investment plans and corporate philanthropy alongside the highest levels of leadership and produce annual reports to measure, monitor, and report on their social impacts just as they would report on financial returns to investors.
93 percent of the world's largest companies publish an annual report that details community investment and social responsibility initiatives.
You may already guess we absolutely think every company should have a community investment plan -- but should you also plan to publish an impact report? Don't overthink it. A community impact report could be a small as a quick letter to stakeholders with some facts and figures about philanthropy and volunteerism for year. Or, on the complete other end of the spectrum, you could publish a full multi-page, professionally produced report that holds your company accountable to your commitment to the communities you serve year to year.
Key questions to consider when building out a Philanthropy / CSR / Impact / Community Investment annual report:
Read more about what an annual report could include in Boston College's helpful "How to Read a Corporate Social Responsbility Report" guide.
Don't know where to start?
Take a cue from American Express, CISCO, Blue Cross Blue Shield and others in the sample reports we've compiled for you below. When you take a look at the reports, consider all the different ways companies can measure impact, philanthropy, and achieve their financial goals while doing it.
Motivations matter. They are what drives a company’s Corporate Community Investment. The LBG Framework enables community activities to be classified according to three categories of motivation.
This analysis provides an indication of the strategic nature of the community program, shows the degree to which it is aligned with wider business goals and helps companies understand the extent to which they are driving their contributions OR are being driven by external demands and circumstances.
The three categories of motivation identified in the LBG Framework are:
A general response to a charity request for funds
Charitable gifts tend to be reactive in that they respond to appeals for help either directly from charities or through requests from employees (including matched funding or payroll giving) or in response to short-term or one-off events.
They tend to be ad hoc or one-off contributions, made because it’s ‘the right thing to do’, not because of any strategic aim or anticipated return to the company. Some might refer to this as traditional philanthropy or grantmaking.
Targeted investment, long term partnership, major commitment of resources
Community investments tend to be more proactive and strategic than charitable gifts. They can center on a smaller number of larger-scale, longer-term projects and are often run as a partnership with, rather than a donation to, a community organization.
These projects address the social issue(s) that the company has identified as being relevant to both the company and the community in which it operates. They will often be: linked to a wider community strategy; be measured; and be expected to help protect the long-term corporate interests and reputation of the business.
Primary purpose PR/ marketing, business development, or promotion for competitive advantage
Commercial initiatives in the community are business related activities, usually undertaken by departments outside the community function (e.g. marketing, R&D), to support the success of the company and promote its brand and other policies, that also deliver community benefit.
The most common example of this is cause-related marketing. These are primarily marketing campaigns but involve a contribution from the company to a charitable cause.
Written by Julia M. Profeta Johansson for the Twenty Thirty Blog: 7 Ways to Rethink Your Business through an impact lens.
There are three big questions that you can ask yourself to kick-start the process to become an Impact Business:
If your operation somehow already relates to one of the topics, the first step is to identify a specific target within that topic that you can intentionally improve through your business. The next step is to create a strategy with defined indicators, so you can measure your progress towards that target.
Please note – simply working in an industry related to these topics does not guarantee that you are generating positive social/environmental impact. Unfortunately, this is something that we see happening more and more: people claiming to be impact businesses just because the business is in education or healthcare, for instance. We saw a lot of “green washing” back in the 2000s, when the topic of environmental sustainability became trendy. Now, we are at risk of seeing more “social washing.” That’s why in my previous article I recommend starting slowly and not getting attached to labels.
It can be a long way to really become an impact business, especially if you are not a start-up, but it can be done. And you have to start somewhere.
Going back to our process then, the following workflow may help to guide you through this thinking process of understanding where you are now and what are the first steps you can take.
After thinking about all these questions, there is a tool that can be helpful in framing the impact vision of the business and figuring out which KPIs, on an operational and impact level, will help move the business towards that vision.
This tool is the Theory of Change.
Theory of Change is a framework to define the impact vision of a business. It considers 3 different layers: inputs, outputs, and outcomes. Analyzing its inputs (products, services, etc.), it is possible to understand the outputs and design the desirable outcomes of the operation. Simply put, determine operational indicators in relation to what’s core in your operation (outputs) that in turn will lead to more in depth indicators, the outcomes, which should be the true impact generated, reflecting the impact vision of the business.
The questions to ask when rethinking and repositioning a business, through the impact lens, are practically endless, but I hope this article has provided a starting point if you are interested in the topic.
Julia M. Profeta Johansson is an impact investing and venture capital specialist based in Berlin, Germany. Julia was previously a partner at Vox Capital, the first impact investing fund manager in Brazil. Before that she also worked with Yunus Social Business, Rocket Internet, Itaú BBA, and Mundo InNova. She is more than happy to continue this conversation and help your business start this journey of more intentional impact.
Blackbird Philanthropy Advisors is a social enterprise devoted to Driving impactful and innovative change through philanthropy. Based in South Bend, Indiana, USA.