Corporate Philanthropy: It’s Not For Your Business, But It Certainly Doesn’t Hurt

The modern corporation is not just a faceless entity any more. Business leaders are expected to mold their companies into global citizens, forces for good in addition to benefitting their own interests. Part of a company’s brand is its charitable efforts, and corporate decision making should be made with this in mind. For many hardline businesspeople, it can be hard to justify spending that does not quantifiably affect a business’s revenue. However, philanthropy doesn’t just do good for others; it has the potential to elevate value in a variety of ways.

Building a Community

It is up to corporations to not only coexist with a community, but to create a mutually beneficial relationship. Investing in community outreach programs can be a great way to foster goodwill and build relationships for the future. Employees volunteering their time at local organizations is one great way to do this. Outreach is especially important if the business gains some of their revenue from the surrounding community, taking “giving back” to its most literal. Projects that benefit an area’s overall economic success can not only be positive with public relations, but create new markets with individuals that have been won over by a company’s efforts.

Strong Branding

Of course, a business’s efforts shouldn’t just be motivated by the potential to open up a new market. Philanthropy should be, as I’ve mentioned before, authentic, and this is something that matters to talent figuring out where to work. Philanthropic efforts should be deeply tied to company values and a way for an organization to prove that it practices what it preaches. These values should be maintained internally as well. And ignoring social responsibility can be harmful for corporations; it shouldn’t just be something done to look good, but an authentic part of a company. With increased access to information, the public will know if a company is not committed to their stated values.

Happier Employees

Plus, employees want to know that they’re working for a company committed to good social values. There are plenty of ways to improve job satisfaction, but getting employees involved in the good work that a company does is one of the less obvious ways to improve faith in the workplace. In this case, they’re not just hearing about a company’s values, they’re living them, something that can improve morale and reduce churn rates.

Networking

Part of building out a strong business isn’t just doing well, it’s about who a leader knows that can boost their bid for success. Corporate philanthropy is a great way to connect with other companies that share values and build trust between organizations. It’s no coincidence that many of the most prominent business leaders are also famed for their philanthropy; working to benefit others builds bridges and gets people noticed for their hard work.

Conclusion

Investing in a community or other philanthropic causes can seem like a drain on money and time for a business. However, the modern culture of giving back is now a central part of how any savvy business leader should conduct their operations. It’s no longer about ROI, it’s about being cognizant of the ways that a corporation has the power to make a difference in an authentic manner.

Why We Need Millennials—How Generation Y is Redefining Philanthropy

Why We Need Millennials—Lazar Finker

In a recent article of mine, I wrote about how, in 2016, millennials proved that they can have a significant impact on the philanthropy sector. Now, I’d like to delve a little more into this generation, what drives them, and why they have become a valuable asset to the nation.

The term “millennial”—used to define anybody born between 1980 and 2000—is often the subject of derision. Frequently characterized as lazy or oversensitive, studying their giving habits has revealed a much more complex truth. As individuals attuned to recent technology trends, millennials have forced nonprofits to reconsider how they reach out to potential donors. The diversity of social media platforms has given organizations more ways to reach their audience, but has also given them more concerns about how to construe their message.

This is because studies have found that millennials seek a certain authenticity when it comes to causes to support. They don’t just want to give for the sake of giving—they want to be emotionally invested in the charities that they donate to.

Nonprofits will have to adapt their message with consideration to a new generation of givers and realize that it’s not about being trendy—it’s about being passionate about a cause and being willing to engage with both the people they’re supporting and those supporting them.

Millennials, often of modest financial status, are able to give less, but the majority are more than willing to volunteer portions of their time and money to help causes that they feel invested in. In many ways, charity work is tied intrinsically to social activism, the latter reflecting the generation’s desire to affect change in the world.

Indeed, millennial philanthropy is often marked by social connections. The cynical among older generations might argue that sharing charity efforts is done for the sole purpose of gaining attention, but I’d like to believe that the social aspect of charity galvanizes more individuals to action.

For the first time in 2016, an organization attempted to learn about millennial charity habits from their point of view rather than that of nonprofit organizations. Achieve, a research agency, and Case Foundation, an innovative philanthropy foundation, partnered to study the generation’s behaviors.

What they found was that millennials are more inclined to change jobs, relationships, and lifestyles more than their older counterparts. Whether this is positive or negative is up for debate, but the organizations also discovered that this fluidity also encourages dedication to a multitude of causes, regardless of how they got involved with them.

So what does this mean for the future of philanthropy?

It means that nonprofit organizations will need to be more visibly active in communities if they want to gain donors. Technology is, as always, a growing vector for micro-donations, and can enable millennial contribution with a minimal amount of effort.

The connectivity afforded by social media reveals many causes all competing for attention. Oddly enough, this forces nonprofits to improve their branding and marketing if they want to stay afloat, a seemingly disingenuous prospect that can nevertheless lead to a positive outcome.

So, like it or not, the future of our country is in the hands of millennials and, all things considered, I’m not too worried about it. Like the causes that they champion, they strive for authenticity and forward progress, and bring an ardent passion to everything that they do.

Donations and Determination—Lessons Businesses Can Take From Nonprofits

Donations to Determination

The not-for-profit industry has come under fire as national trust in many philanthropic organizations rapidly declines. The charity sector of the economy is subject to more and more meticulous scrutiny while many of its fundamental institutions are falling by the wayside. Community hospitals are facing closure across the country. Traditional churches and synagogues are emptying their coffers while simultaneously losing membership across nearly every sect affiliation. Moreover, the sector itself hasn’t grown in the last ten to fifteen years, be that with respect to overall revenue or number of employees.

At the same time, it cannot be said that nonprofits are not prolific or motivated. Many have taken lessons from traditional businesses over the years. Though concepts such as strong branding, improved money management, and a robust leadership structure were once taboo among nonprofit organizations, the majority have adopted the conventions of the modern business in order to better deliver on their promises to do good in the world. Now, in an era of suspicion of corporate motives, businesses would do well to learn from the engagement practices of nonprofits.

While the nonprofit sector has not profoundly expanded in recent history, the management skills of the industry have improved exponentially. The stigma behind management, once regarded only as a byproduct of corporate greed, is gone, now exemplifying a commitment to shrewd fiduciary responsibility, especially in a sector where funds are often tight. Therefore, strong financial and logistical planning is generally something that nonprofits do very well, enabling them to focus further on their mission.

With resources scarce, nonprofits must not only rely on effective branding and building strong relationships with stakeholders to gain support. Granted, there’s a big difference between average consumers and the individuals that nonprofits assist, but learning and acting on their needs is necessary for any business.

The difficult part of this process is often finding enough support to effectively complete a mission. In order for this to happen, benefactors will have to care about the cause that the nonprofits are supporting, a tricky proposition with so many charities clamoring for attention. Nonprofits have, as a result, become adept at telling a story. These stories often humanize the community in need of assistance, explain how the nonprofit plans to help, and includes a call to action in which the audience is encouraged to contribute. Even in for-profit businesses, appealing to an audience on an individual level can often drive others to action more effectively than broadly espousing a product or service.

This whole process is about making connections on an emotional level. As nonprofits can rally communities and bring people together for a common cause, so too can businesses create a passion for their products and services that leads to brand loyalty. A consumer should ideally feel that the companies that they support are in turn supporting them; communication is, as previously mentioned, the key to building a significant relationship.

Viral marketing may be one of the latest trends to grace the Internet, but nonprofit organizations codified the process of getting advertising to socially propagate itself. Even on social media today, nonprofit-oriented news stories dominate feeds, encouraging readers and viewers to make some small difference on their own. And this approach works quite well, gathering support through emotions in a way that for-profit businesses stand to learn from.