The holidays have come and gone and so has the strong focus on charitable giving. In fact, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, more than half of all nonprofit organizations say that they receive the majority of their annual donations in the fourth quarter of the year. But we all know that the need for donations doesn’t go away just because the season changes.
Many large companies have ongoing giving strategies in place. Parameters and a process are set in order to manage charitable activities. For smaller firms and startups, this approach is just as important but often not as simple as it may seem at first glance. There are so many other (seemingly more urgent) balls in the air when leaders at smaller companies wear multiple hats.
That’s certainly I found to be the case when I started my company. As a third generation resident of the region where I work, my roots run deep and community involvement has always been a priority. Volunteering and supporting charities in my hometown is a natural for me. I feel strongly about many of the causes and charitable work that organizations are doing in our region, and so do the people who work at my company.
One of the challenges for creating a community giving strategy for my company has been accommodating the many passions of the staff and agents who work there. We’re like family –literally– so we have felt that supporting the causes that are near and dear to each person’s heart is vital to morale and team building. It’s also just something we want to do.
Many locally owned, small companies likely face a similar problem. There are so many great causes and they want to give to them all. This kind of “shotgun” approach isn’t sustainable and doesn’t have the level of impact that a concerted approach can accomplish.
After some trial and error, my company is in the process of revamping its own community giving strategy and put together some great advice to others who want to make a difference, but need a plan to get there.
1. Dedicate Hours to Community Giving.
Consider hiring a staff member who manages the giving strategy for the company, among other tasks. This person should have experience working in the nonprofit space and has real time carved out to strategize community sponsorships, donations, and volunteer opportunities.
2. Follow Your/Their Passion.
The passion points among your staff will run the gamut – causes from children and family services to cancer research and from animal welfare to the arts. Find out where the true passions within your office lie and then identify the organizations that have the largest impact. It’s important to support your fellow workers and your staff, so be sensitive to their wants and needs when it comes to philanthropy.
3. Set a Budget and a Plan.
Create a budget that is set aside for community giving. It will give you some parameters to set up your donation stream for the year. Identify the passion points (see #2) and create a giving statement. Do a quick Google search for corporate giving strategies and get some ideas of how to formulate a statement to act as a guide.
4. Encourage Volunteerism.
Whether it is a group effort where a team goes out and helps work on a Habitat for Humanity house or an individual spends time with a child through Big Brothers Big Sisters, create a company culture that makes it easy to volunteer. Offer paid time off and employer matching donations. You’ll reap the benefits now and later.
It’s not impossible to make community giving a part of your business strategy – just like your digital presence or your employee benefits. Make it a priority, devote time and energy up front to getting a plan in place and make sure you’re following the passions that matter most. As Mother Teresa said, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving” – and for businesses today – love means time. Make a difference in your community! It’s worth every minute.
About the Author
Sara LaFaver serves as the managing principal broker for Harcourts The Garner Group Real Estate in Bend, Oregon. She has over 15 years of experience in real estate sales and administration, title, and escrow services. LaFaver has served on the Central Oregon Association of Realtors board of directors and has held her Oregon real estate broker’s license since 2002.