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."
Written by: Sherri Welch
Detroit-based nonprofit Michigan Women Forward will offer $10 million in community impact notes to support Michigan's women entrepreneurs.
Over the past five years, MWF (formerly known as Michigan Women's Foundation) has used philanthropic contributions and money from the state loan fund (that had to be paid back in just three years) to make microloans to 180 women entrepreneurs through loan programs and pitch competitions.
About 90 percent of those investments have been in Southeast Michigan, the rest scattered around the state. The businesses range from drinking vinegars and a coffee shop, a hydroponic farm and a mushroom factory to an architecture firm and a phlebotomy training school.
All but four of those companies are still operating, Cassin said, noting they collectively produced $18.5 million in revenue last year.
With the additional "patient" capital from the new offering, MWF could invest in up to 1,000 additional women entrepreneurs, giving them longer terms to pay the investment back, along with technical assistance and other support to help them succeed, Cassin said.
"If these businesses perform at the same rate the first 180 have performed," the notes could create $100 million in new revenue when it is fully deployed in 10 years, she said.
"It starts to be significant. You start to talk about real impact."
The $10 million Michigan Women Forward Community Impact Note offering is modeled after a similar program the Maryland-based Calvert Impact Capital Inc. offers to fund microloans, or make loans for buildings such as schools or affordable housing, Cassin said.
MWF is seeking:
"Before you're ready for angel investing or venture funding, women, especially, have a very hard time finding small amounts of equity funding," Cassin said.
Issuing notes is contingent upon MWF garnering commitments totaling at least $1 million within 12 months. Individual investors must make a minimum investment of $50,000, and institutional investors must commit at least $500,000.
MWF promises returns of 1 percent for five-year notes, 2 percent for seven-year notes and 3 percent for 10-year notes.
With assistance from Auburn Hills-based Gingras Global Group Inc., it will also provide investors with quarterly impact statements to document the tangible impact they are making in women's lives, Cassin said.
All summer, MWF has been talking with local, private and family foundations and banks "that might want to turn a philanthropic donation into an investment" that could be redeployed again and again to help women entrepreneurs, Cassin said. "We would not have gotten this far if we hadn't received positive reinforcement from them," she said.
MWF has also been talking with foundations in other parts of the state, such as Grand Rapids, that have an interest in investing in the notes to support women entrepreneurs in their regions, Cassin said.
Beyond the support the new offering could bring to women entrepreneurs, microlending is a sustainable business for MWF, Cassin said.
"The more we lend out and (entrepreneurs) pay back ... that gives us this opportunity to really create a larger and larger pool of money we can access" for more microloans, she said. "That's better for getting more women the capital they need and for getting us more flexible, earned income to start paying for the organization instead of having to go out and fundraise all the time."
Blackbird Philanthropy Advisors is a social enterprise devoted to Driving impactful and innovative change through philanthropy. Based in South Bend, Indiana, USA.