Written by: Barbara Pfeiffer, The Partner Marketing Group
People like to do business with people they connect with and an excellent way to connect with others is through giving back. This has become even more important as millennials continue to signal they prefer doing business with socially responsible brands and companies.
While philanthropy is a heartfelt desire to do good things that benefit others, there are corporate benefits that extend beyond the personal connections you make. It boosts employee morale, provides free PR, and increases your standing with your clients.
Your “program” doesn’t have to take a lot of time or require formal documentation at all, but a plan will be very helpful in ensuring everyone is aware and knows how to get involved. You can start right now with one or more of these ideas!
1. Corporate Sponsorships and Events
Consider taking a day out of the week and offering employees the opportunity to participate in a local event. This can be something very structured like building a house for Habitat for Humanity or a local event – working at a school, a food bank, or other community activity.
A caveat here. While most employees will happily participate, avoid creating situations where employees feel forced. One way to do this is by offering a few opportunities throughout the year with the understanding that participation is absolutely optional and maybe have some of your executives stay back at the office to reinforce that point.
Other options that take less time, but more dollars, include sponsoring local non-profits, youth sports teams, libraries or community events. This can give you great visibility. If you’re sponsoring, consider ways to have your employees get involved as well – from taking everyone to a local game and cheering on the team to working a day a month at a library.
2. Employee Philanthropy Support
Programs that support your employees’ personal giving and volunteering are a great way to build employee morale and diversify the organizations you support. A simple and powerful way to do this is through matching gifts. Even the smallest companies can provide this support – just limit the dollars per employee or the percentage you will match.
Another option is a “volunteer grant” program. With a volunteer grant, you donate to an employee’s favorite non-profit when they reach a certain volunteer milestone. For example, if an employee volunteers for 20 hours – you could donate $200 to that non-profit in their name. As with matching gifts, you can put limits on this to stay within a budget.
3. Celebrate Giving Tuesday
For virtual organizations, or those with many remote workers, Giving Tuesday can be a great opportunity to engage everyone. The first Tuesday after U.S. Thanksgiving (December 3rd in 2019 and December 1st in 2020), Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving fueled largely by social media (#GivingTuesday).
How can you participate?
Offer a corporate match for all employee donations to a non-profit you’ve selected. Take that a step further and ask your employees to get involved in the selection. Ask for suggestions or provide a short list and ask employees to vote. Or, consider doubling your match for employee gifts that day. Make sure you’re sharing on social media how you’re participating. Need more inspiration? Visit www.GivingTuesday.Org.
4. Talent Sharing
Technology can be a budget buster for smaller non-profits. Lend your expertise, donate products or support a non-profit’s technology needs in areas like website development, infrastructure or just general consulting.
5. Disaster Relief
Although we hope it is never needed, natural disasters such as fires, floods, hurricanes and other weather events are becoming increasingly common. Consider how your business might be able to support your community and put a plan in place.
This can include providing office space to displaced businesses, sponsoring or working for the Red Cross or other local relief organizations, or assembling care packages for displaced families. Make sure you coordinate your efforts with the local authorities and relief organizations.
Sharing Your Good Deeds
Once you have your philanthropy program in place, share your impact. Start by adding a corporate giving page to your website and share your efforts via social media. Your page can include:
- Your philosophy of giving. Are you supporting your employees, focusing on local activities, providing talent to local organizations? Share why you feel giving is important and how you’re approaching it.
- Share photos of corporate events.
- Share logos of the non-profits you are supporting through donations and grants.
- If you are providing financial support through matching gifts or employee volunteers, add a “funding thermometer” to show how much you’ve given.
- Encourage your employees to share photos and stories – even short blurbs – about why they support the organizations they do.
- Check out enterprise companies (almost all have corporate responsibility or giving pages) for other ideas on what and how to promote your great work.
Regardless of your choices and how you implement them, you’ll do well to bring your employees into the process. Create a committee and rotate members to encourage involvement and guide your efforts.
Need more ideas? Guidestar has a great article on programs you can implement and the largest online database of non-profits searchable by giving focus and geography.