Corporate philanthropy is about more than giving to a cause -- and the publicity and tax savings that come along with it. When done well, it's an opportunity to build a mutually beneficial relationship between two organizations and to engage your employees, vendors, and customers around shared values. Here are five ways to rethink your company's social responsibility efforts and position them for greater impact.
Link donations, mission
Missions are not only for nonprofits. Your company has one, even if it's not written down. Figure out what it is, then make your philanthropy an opportunity to propel it even further forward. For example, Tyson Foods, which lists its purpose as "Raising the world's expectations for how much good food can do," funded the purchase of food-warming units and dishwashers for two of our organization's child care and early education centers. Beyond the food that Tyson already produces, their philanthropy is helping to fuel young children's education as they prepare for kindergarten.
Build nonprofit organizational capacity
Nonprofits are companies, too, and need funds to further our missions. We also need strategic planning, board training, and professional development to stay competitive in a rapidly changing economy. This past year, One Hope United was the recipient of two engagements with BoardSource, also funded by Tyson. These sessions provided customized coaching and training and helped us explore practical ways to increase board effectiveness and strengthen our organizational impact.
Encourage employees to serve on boards
Many leaders aspire to serve on corporate boards one day, but employers often disallow serving on another for-profit company's board. Encouraging nonprofit board service is an excellent way to provide your employees with board experience and support their involvement in a cause that matters to them. It's also an easy way to start building relationships with nonprofits and feed the pipeline for bigger giving and partnership opportunities down the road. At One Hope United, we are thrilled to have governing and ambassador board members from companies of all sizes, including locally based ITW, Adjust Creative, and Verge Graphics as well as KPMG and others.
Incorporate philanthropy into your events
Why plan a fundraiser when you can integrate fundraising into events you are already holding? Every year, the Lake County-based Abbott and AbbVie host a golf outing for their vendors with One Hope United as their charity partner. In its 29 years, the event has resulted in over 90,000 holes of golf played and raised millions of dollars for children and families through sponsorships, ticket sales, auctions, and other giving opportunities built into the day. Award ceremonies, professional development days, sales meetings, and holiday parties also make great opportunities to involve your stakeholders in philanthropy.
Create an employee giving program
Many companies choose their giving program in the executive boardroom. You will have much more success engaging your employees if you ask them what they value and provide giving opportunities that match their interests with your company's priorities. Mintel Group, LTD, the world's leading market intelligence agency, used their survey prowess to ask their employees what charitable causes interest them. When the results revealed child welfare and education, Mintel partnered with One Hope United through their MintelGives initiative to participate in our annual Wishbook (wishbook.onehopeunited.org). Set up like an online catalog, with a custom site for MintelGives, Wishbook provides Mintel employees an even greater level of choice in their giving, allowing them to virtually "shop" by making monetary donations that reflect the costs and services that One Hope United provides. Among the items they can support are preschool scholarships and a group therapy program that can help curb violence among teens who are living with chronic stress.
• Charles A. Montorio-Archer is president and CEO of One Hope United , www.onehopeunited.org