JOHN GRAHAM: Getting the most from corporate charitable donations
Most companies want to support charitable and civic organizations and causes. At the same time, the stream of donation requests can be overwhelming, particularly since no one likes saying no.
Plus, the pressure comes from all sides. Customers, politicians, employees, friends and associates. Everyone seems to have a favorite charity. And businesses are the most visible targets for support.
Making giving work
Like any other aspect of a business, when charitable giving isn’t managed, it goes out of control. To avoid this, here are five ideas to make in-kind and cash charitable contributions work for both worthy projects and organizations and your company.
1. The value of strategic giving.
Making random donations is a recipe for disaster.
With this type of giving, your company is “lost in the crowd,” one of often hundreds of donors. Although most businesses are concerned about the number of checks they write and the total amount of annual donations, they don’t assess the value of making random donations, often considering it a business necessity.
While making a number of smaller donations may be necessary, there’s a more effective way to benefit from charitable support, and that’s by treating it as you would any other business investment –– doing it strategically.
One way to start is by forming a small group of employees that has an interest in the company’s community support, starting by sharing with them the company’s current amount of cash and in-kind charitable support. You can point out that you want to be sure the company uses it resources wisely when it comes to contributions, just as it does with all its funds.
One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is by aligning your business with a primary charitable partner that reflects your company’s values and resonates with your customers.
There’s an important step to take before making a commitment and that’s vetting the potential non-profit recipient to make sure it’s a responsible organization and a good fit.
Having found a good match, you may want to become its primary sponsor so that when someone thinks of “The Great Kids Club,” they think of you. When this occurs, the charity becomes more involved with your company and you become more engaged with it.
Your employee committee can help with this task by talking to and researching various organizations and then evaluating the findings. In the process, these employees become “ambassadors” by communicating their interest to others in the company.
The committee may narrow the search to perhaps three possibilities and then meet with the employees, share their findings, and then have everyone vote on which one that’s most deserving of the company’s support.
The organizations that are being considered will undoubtedly want to win your support and will make an effort to put their best foot forward by indicating what they would do to help make the company’s support as worthwhile as possible. Since these groups know the value of publicity, they will let you know how they can use public relations to carry your company’s message to their members and the public.