In its 2015 Report, Giving USA indicated that US corporations donated $17.8 billion dollars to charitable organizations. The bulk of this giving is through foundations they have set up for this purpose. While this number pales in comparison to the $258 billion donated by individuals in 2014, US corporations are big players in supporting the nonprofit sector.
For those managing these corporate foundations, your challenge is to make sure your company’s giving program evolves along with the company over time. Companies grow, business needs change, and community needs change. And in fact, the more effective your giving is, the greater likelihood that the issues are changing. Sometimes companies recognize a growing disconnect between what their giving program used to accomplish and what it does today. Other times what they recognize is a feeling that their giving program is becoming a burden instead of providing excitement, satisfaction and pride.
It’s important, therefore, to revisit your corporate giving each year to make sure it’s accomplishing the goals you’ve identified. Here are the top 5 reasons for refreshing your Corporate Giving Program:
- Maximize impact – Setting goals, following up, tracking and making mid-course adjustments are second nature in the private sector. Taking the same approach with your giving accomplishes the same thing. We all want to make sure that our giving actually creates the desired impact. Not only do you get to measure progress over time, you have quantitative results that you can talk about and share both within the company and with the public.
- Reduce Management Time – Lack of clarity causes the greatest challenges with corporate giving. Revisiting the mission and areas of interest for your company’s giving provides the opportunity to re-establish this clarity. Then it takes less time to screen potential grant recipients, make grant decisions and ask the right questions.
- Energize the organization – Corporate giving programs should energize your organization. If it’s not a source of positive energy, it’s often actually creating negative impact. Strong programs are a source of employee pride. They can help attract and recruit talent to the company and enhance employee retention.
- Strengthen your brand – Corporate giving programs are generally designed to accomplish a philanthropic goal. And ideally this goal is aligned in some way with your company’s work. One of the benefits to a strong giving program is that it not only provides a social benefit, it also demonstrates the company’s leadership in addressing issues. That, in turn, creates goodwill among employees, customers, vendors and the larger community. And this goodwill provides a point of difference and competitive advantage in the marketplace. It’s great for business.
- Ensure Alignment – When the mission, giving criteria and decision-making processes are all clear, the program is easier to administer, which also makes it easier for people to understand and communicate. Not only does it then become a point of pride for employees, it becomes embedded in the culture.
If any of these points strike a chord, it may be time to look at whether your giving program needs some refreshing.