by Rachel Hutchisson, Business Doing Good & Blackbaud, Inc.

Last month, we began to look at deciding what to give to – what your focus should be.  This is actually a lot tougher to determine than you might think.  How do you choose? 

In the last post, I outlined a number of ways to look at the question.  You can align your focus by products and services you offer, by your brand, because of your location or even your history.  But wait!  There’s more.  Before you make a decision, consider three more areas:

  • Your CEO or Leadership – This is a touchy but important one.  What does the founder, owner or CEO care about?  If you’re one of these people and you’re driving the change, then you’re ahead of the game (…and I’d encourage you to think about the point below, on employees).  If you aren’t, and you’re seeking buy in from those who made the giving decisions before, make sure you carefully inquire about what they think and if there are any areas of giving that are important to preserve.  You may have already hit on this in the history discussion as the two are often intertwined.
  • Employees – Who are your employees?  What are they like?  What do they care about?  What do they like?  Are they unique in any specific way?  Taking a look at the demographics, interests and experiences of your employees is important because it provides a perspective you might not have considered.  This doesn’t mean you’re asking your employees to tell you what to give to.  It means you’re looking at who they are and what they care about so that, which might lead you to considering certain kinds of nonprofits that otherwise might not make it into the discussion.
  • What you won’t give to – It might be obvious, but any discussion about what to support should include conversation about what NOT to support.  Are there certain types of nonprofits that aren’t in line with what you do or what you believe?  Does the company have policies against aligning its brand with political candidates, for example, or religious activity?  Or do you prefer not to give to multi-year campaigns or not to give products away?  All of this is important to know.

 Now, take a moment to jot down what you’ve figured out, using a chart like this: 

Category Nonprofits/Causes (ideas)
Products or Services  
Brand  
Location  
History  
CEO  
Employees  
What you won’t give to  

 

This exercise will leave you with a lot of ideas and different potential directions to take.  It won’t answer your question immediately, but it will help to narrow or orient the discussion.  With this information, you can better step through the options, considering which one is the right one for your business.  If possible, involve line employee as well as leadership in this process to help encourage buy in for the choice you make.  After all, you will want the team to embrace the decision and help champion the focus on behalf of your company, your brand.  You want them to be proud. 

Two final notes on selecting a giving focus.  First, you don’t have to be 100% absolute, never straying from your focus.  You can decide “what you give to as a business” in a public way and still privately support other organizations that are meaningful to you (like those you uncovered in the history of CEO discussion).  Corporate giving budgets usually contain a mix of programs that made it there for different reasons.  You may give to certain nonprofits because of history and others because you have an executive serving on the board.  The publicly stated giving focus should both convey a strong story about your support of the cause and should help the groups asking you for money to focus their requests.

Second, when you ultimately decide on your giving focus, be open that it is something you will revisit over time.  Although it is not a decision to rethink every year, it is appropriate to stop, at key points in a company’s growth and after key events, to reevaluate.  For example, your business outgrows its current building and moves across town to a new location, in a neighborhood with different needs.  What moves to the “history” category, and what’s new about how you want to give?  Maybe you merge with another company that has a different giving focus.  Which one do you keep or do you come up with a new approach altogether that fits who you will be in the future?  These are but two examples of why there can and should be room to change.

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by Rachel Hutchisson, Business Doing Good & Blackbaud, Inc.

When I said that giving money away is hard, I meant that it’s hard to choose how best to invest your dollars.  Which nonprofit is the best one to support?  How do you pick one over the other?  Is cancer more important than homelessness, child abuse a higher priority than infant mortality? 

These questions are impossible to answer and vary dramatically person by person.  But as a business, you have some pre-determined factors in place that can help you decide on an approach.  This post is designed to step you through that process.

How To: Determining your giving focus

Work through the list below, carefully considering each category before making any decisions about what you might support.  Give yourself time to think through the options.  Although you can and should update your focus over time – as the business evolves and changes – deciding your giving focus is not something you do every year.  You will likely live with the focus for many years, so you want to make sure it fits.

  • Products and Services – What products or services do you offer?  Is there a logical connection between what you sell and a specific kind of nonprofit in the community?  For example, a landscaping company and a nonprofit that teaches city kids gardening; a  contractor or a hardware store and housing for the homeless; an eye surgery center and an association for the blind… Looking at the obvious connection between your products or services and community need is a logical first step.  But what if what you do as a business doesn’t align so nicely with a type of nonprofit?  For example, what if you do web design?  Although there could be nonprofits that teach kids this skill, you could also take the approach of saying “we’re going to give to nonprofits that have marketing needs like those we fulfill as a business.”  This is a less conventional but extremely important way to think about giving because chances are, there aren’t as many donors out there looking to support this kind of need – funding for web development so the nonprofit can tell its story.  Be creative.  There is no one answer.
  • Brand – Similar to the products and services suggestion above, think about what your brand stands for and whether that leads you to any logical intersections with nonprofits.  This approach is admittedly a bit fuzzier, not so black and white.  If your company’s brand stands for innovation or creativity, then perhaps your giving programs are designed to support those same qualities.
  • Location – Where is your company located within your community?  Are you in an office park, an industrial zone, the rural outskirts, the middle of the city, or perhaps a place where people both live and work?  Are there specific needs in the neighborhood, problems that you want to help fix?  Are there residents close by with specific needs?  Answering these questions will help you come up with options for how to give – perhaps to a local community center, a program for people who speak English as a second language, to help preserve woodlands or maybe to encourage environmentally friendly transportation options.  Again, there is no right answer.  These are just clues to help you decide.
  • History – Businesses grow up in communities, rarely on their own.  They have connections to people, places and causes that develop naturally.  Just because some of the early donations you made might not have been strategic, that doesn’t mean they weren’t good and important to keep.  Looking at what you have already done, ask if there are certain nonprofits that feel central to who you are as a company.  Is there a group that’s always been there, that you feel connected to, that has – in some way – grown up with you.  This is the outlier category in many ways because the organization might not fit into any of the other categories you’re considering (product, location, etc.)  You might just feel a passion for them, and if that commitment is strong enough, then it’s important to think about how to maintain it.

Tune in latnext time for more advice on choosing a cause for your business, looking at the role the CEO, your employees and what you WON’T give to play in the decision.  And if you know small-to-mid-sized businesses that have done a great job selecting a giving approach that’s right for them, please do share at BusinessDoingGood@blackbaud.com.

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by Rachel Hutchisson, Business Doing Good & Blackbaud, Inc.

A series on building a giving plan.

When businesses start up and begin to market themselves – whether they’re a new store in the shopping center down the street or an IT company – people come calling, asking for money, asking for involvement.  This is all good, but it can be overwhelming if you haven’t thought through what to do and what not to do.

The typical business responds case by case, selecting an event to support, a nonprofit to help or a school to champion.  Often these decisions are made by the founder or owner of the company and have a lot to do with what that person cares about.  Make no mistake, this isn’t bad.  It’s where most businesses begin when it comes to philanthropy, and it can help you learn what works and what doesn’t.

Over time, it’s easy for a lot of money, effort, time, and even product to be used to support the requests you receive – more resources than you might expect.  So when you are seeking to be more strategic about giving, deciding to drive it versus respond to requests, it’s important to stop and figure out the actual amount of giving you do.  This is kind of like going on a treasure hunt.

How To: How much are you giving?

Review your company’s spending, working with the people who lead key areas marketing, product fulfillment and accounting.  Ask everyone to document, the best they can, what the company does for free.  This may include:

  • Philanthropic donations – If you have a specific budget established for this, great.  That makes your life easier.  If you don’t, then figure out where the donations are hitting your General Ledger.  Are they being assigned to marketing?  Or does the CEO have a discretionary fund that’s tapped here and there?  This is anything but scientific.  You may need to dig through details with your financial team and ask follow up questions to understand why the company spent money on certain things.  You are literally building a philanthropy budget line by line.
  • Sponsorships - It’s not unusual for companies to mix sponsorships and donations in the same budget.  The language people use when they ask for money can be confusing.  For example, a nonprofit may ask you to sponsor an event.  Is that a marketing expense or a donation?  It depends.  Ask why the money is being invested.  If it is being spent to promote the company and drive business, then it’s marketing (which usually comes with promotional opportunities, logo placement, tickets, and so on).  If it’s a charitable gift, done to support the nonprofit because you believe in it and you want to do good in the community, then it’s a gift.
  • Employee/community relations – Another area worth exploring is the HR budget where you may spend money on events or efforts that are aimed at connecting your company or employees to the community.  For example, you might belong to the local Chamber of Commerce or the Rotary Club.  Again, ask yourself why you are involved and whether the money is about benefits you receive in return or about giving.  It’s easy to get confused.  For example, you may have a membership at the local children’s museum so employees can take their kids to visit.  That’s a membership and a company benefit for employees, which is an HR investment.  The children’s museum asks you to sponsor an event.  You decide to do it because the museum store is a potential customer for the products you produce.  That’s a marketing investment.  The museum’s executive director then asks you to make a donation to the annual fund, supporting the museum’s operations.  That’s giving.
  • Products or Services – The final area to consider is the actual products and services you provide to the market.  I’m talking about what you, as a business, sell.  Say you are a local beverage company, making a new organic product.  How many bottles of this product do you donate to nonprofits for their events?  What, in dollars, does this equate to?  The same applies for professional services.  If you provide a service, like Web design, how much of this do you do for free, for charitable reasons (not to help appease an unhappy customer)?  Assign the appropriate dollar value to the donation, and count this in your giving total.

Adding it all up!

Philanthropic donations $ ________
Donations disguised as sponsorships $ ________
Donations disguised as employee relations $ ________
Donations of products or services $ ________
Total giving  = $ ________

 

Now that you have a good sense of what you’re giving (and what that totals up to in terms of $s), it’s time to think about what kind of cause you’d like to adopt – what makes sense for your business, your employees, your community.  Tune in to the next post we continue the focus on building a giving plan.

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by Rachel Hutchisson, Business Doing Good & Blackbaud, Inc.

A special note from the authorIt was almost two years ago when I launched this blog, aimed at teaching small businesses (really any business for that matter) how to weave good into the every day.  And you know what?  I’m heartened to see businesses in my community and the world embrace what the pros call CSR as a part of their strategy.  But it’s still just a part, sometimes a piece left over to the side or thought about when time allows.

What’s my point?  It’s this.  We still have a huge, largely untapped opportunity to drive positive social change through the businesses we work in every day.  For this reason, I want to go back to the beginning for a while, revisiting the ideas I shared when I launched this blog.  I’m going to begin with a little data then will follow up with advice I think still stands true and firm today, advice about building a giving plan.  Although doing good has many faces, giving is at the heart.

I began this blog first andexplaining CSR  then getting to why it mattered today.  As a part of this, I talked about the sheer size of small business in America.  That’s where I’m going to pick this trip down memory lane, hoping a visit to this blog’s past helps further jumpstart things for the future.  Here we go…

When you look at where people work, in America alone, the vast majority of those in business take home their paychecks from small firms, defined by the US Small Business Administration as having less than 500 employees. That’s an estimated 70.2 million people (or 49% of the 2013 business workforce) at almost 6 million firms. When you add mid-sized businesses (with up to 5,000 employees), the number increases an additional 25 million to 95.4 million people, which is two-thirds of all those working in business in the United States today.

These numbers are staggering, as is the impact that these businesses make as they function within communities every day, in ecosystems where for-profit, nonprofit, individuals and government depend on each other. With more strategic advice about how to formalize the building blocks that are “about good,” these businesses – and the people in them – can have dramatic, positive impact.

Although small businesses employ half this major segment of the workforce, there’s no current way of gauging how many are formally adopting programs aimed at doing good. However, a March 2013 survey by Business4Better indicates that mid-sized companies are “recognizing the value of corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a tool to drive true community engagement, increase employee loyalty and improve business performance.”

The survey, which was launched in advance of the first CSR conference designed specifically for mid-sized firms, tells us that companies are embracing this work to make impact in their communities, although only one third had what they deemed a “mature” program. According to the executive summary, “The remaining two-thirds do not have a CSR program, are just beginning to develop it or are seeking to improve an established program.”

Bottom line? There’s a lot of desire to do good. Companies want it. Employees want it. And if you’re reading this blog, you want it. That’s a wonderful start. So what we’re going to do now is dive into how to identify the seeds that have been planted in your own business and how to cultivate them into a flourishing program that enhances your culture, your company and your contribution to the world.

 by Rachel Hutchisson, Business Doing Good & Blackbaud, Inc.

Next up is another profile of a firm featured in the new eBook I produced with A Billion+Change and Riggs Partners for #GivingTuesday.  These write ups are being featured one by one with permission from the eBook team.

Harry’s a direct-to-consumer men’s grooming brand that makes razors and blades to improve guys’ shaving experiences while also having a positive impact on the world.

Our story — Harry’s seeks to deliver the best shaving experience for our customers. This is why we run a vertically integrated business, owning the entire process from manufacturing to the point of sale. This allows us to offer factory-direct pricing and also have a personal relationship with our customers, taking their feedback and putting it right back into research and development.  Our razors help our customers get ready for the day ahead, but we realize there is a lot more to readiness in life. That’s why we created Harry’s 1+1, our pledge to give 1% of our sales and 1% of our team’s time to City Year and other organizations that get people from all walks of life ready for their next big step.

Why we’re unique — Harry’s is best known for entering a market dominated by a couple of major institutional players with a direct-to-consumer model and high-quality, thoughtfully designed products sold at factory-direct prices.  We make ergonomic razors and premium shaving cream, which we offer to customers à la carte and in shave plans.  We built the company on the value of respect and believe all businesses should leverage their core strengths for social change.

Our skills-based volunteerism — At Harry’s, we consider our team’s 21st century skillsets to be chief among our strengths and one of our most valuable assets. We love to contribute what we do best – whether it be design, engineering, or marketing – so that our nonprofit partners can focus on what they do best, inspiring others and delivering impact.  Our team has a truly varied set of skills, such as graphic design, engineering, data science, and user experience. With our partners, we curate skills-based volunteering sprints where we tackle specific, carefully scoped projects, such as wire framing a website, rebranding creative collateral, building a pitch deck, or developing a data dashboard.  In April, our entire team participated in our first 1% Hack. We set aside an entire day for our whole team to focus their skills on tackling—or “hacking”—a challenge that City Year faces. In the span of a single day, we collectively committed more than 300 hours of time in skills-based service, developing ideas that could help City Year recruit more male corps members. Though the hack-a-thon is over, a smaller team at Harry’s is now working closely with City Year to develop the winning idea—a mobile app—into a fully-functioning product that City Year’s recruiting team will actually implement. As one of our team said, “This is one of the most meaningful volunteer activities I’ve done. It was incredible to actually solve a real organizational problem of a nonprofit that doesn’t have the resources to solve it themselves.”

Our challenges — When we first created Harry’s 1+1, we were a six-month-old company of about 15 people.  As a small business, it was challenging to understand how we could make meaningful impact for our select partners. We created the 1+1 model because we understood that giving not just money, but also time would allow us to drive the most positive change.  It wasn’t until our hack-a-thon and a handful of other service events that we realized how much impact we could have as a team, in a day and sometimes even in an afternoon. That key observation led to the launch of our “skills-based sprint” model.  To ensure this model was successful, we focused on scoping service engagements so everyone knows at the beginning what we need to do in order to get the work done well and efficiently.

How serving helps our business — Although many employees are drawn to Harry’s in part because it is a socially responsible company, what 1% Time achieves is a regular and reliable avenue to engage all of our employees in that aspect of our business.  Our teammates are eager and excited to give their time. Caitlin D., on the Customer Experience team at Harry’s, articulated well some of the benefits employees reap from the service program.  She said, “I really enjoyed being involved in and hearing from an organization that is very different from Harry’s. It broke up the day and gave me a feeling of fulfillment in different and exciting ways.”  Our approach to giving time has also garnered attention and awards, landing Harry’s speaking engagements at respected social innovation conferences as well as shout-outs in articles and other media about socially responsible companies.  As an e-commerce company, we also see skills-based volunteering as a unique way to interact with our customers in the real world and hope to engage our customers as partners in service in the future, inspiring and empowering them to share their skills.

Advice for other businesses interested in skills-based volunteerism — Begin with the people on your team who don’t need to be convinced that service is important. Use their positive experiences and enthusiasm to build broader base support.  Make sure you have senior leadership on board from the beginning. That doesn’t simply mean your leaders should approve of a volunteer program.  It means they should show up and help.

Want to learn more?  Contact Laura Zax, Social Mission Manager.

by Rachel Hutchisson, Business Doing Good & Blackbaud, Inc.

Next up is another profile of a firm featured in the new eBook I produced with A Billion+Change and Riggs Partners for #GivingTuesday.  These write ups are being featured one by one with permission from the eBook team.

Edgeworth Economics — working under the motto “Complex Problems, Clear Solutions,” the firm performs economic, financial, and quantitative analysis and expert testimony for world-class law firms and Fortune 500 companies across the globe.

Our story — The guiding principles in founding the firm were developed by a 19th century economist, Francis Edgeworth, who created a model of trade (known as “pareto optimality”) in which all individuals could be made better off without anyone being made worse off.  At Edgeworth Economics, this theory has steered our decisions from the beginning – a belief in a company culture where clients can be served and a work environment can be created where everyone flourishes by putting the needs of the firm above those of any single individual. This guiding mantra is also the foundation on which we have built our pro bono practice.  Our CEO and President, Dr. John Johnson, worked on a pro bono project early in his testifying career and knew immediately the benefits of such work to the individual professional and the community, realizing that it could prove to be a growth pillar for a business, as well.

Why we’re unique — Edgeworth experts provide comprehensive economic and data analyses and expert testimony in a variety of antitrust, class action, labor and employment, and intellectual property litigations on behalf of clients.  Our commitment from the beginning to establshing and nurturing a significant pro bono practice fundamentally distinguishes us from our industry competitors.  

Our skills-based volunteerism — Our economists offer high-level economic consulting to community members who would otherwise not be able to afford such services. At Edgeworth, pro bono work receives the same attention and dedication as our other projects.  Last year, our professionals donated more than 1,300 hours of skills-based service work.  Over the past five years this work has included economic analysis and testimony in a variety of matters such as assessing the impact of legal reforms on certain subpopulation, the economics of distinct markets and industries, damages resulting from the violation of federal disability rules, and damages resulting from discrimination.  Examples include:

  • In Samuel Payne v. Tamia Wells and D.C. ex rel. Bryson Agnew v. Leo Alexander, we provided testimony related to the potential earnings capacity of an individual involved in a child support dispute.
  • In Mario Alvarado v. Tenants of 10 49th Street SE, we designed a model and provided testimony on economic issues related to a petition filed by the owner of a rent-controlled property requesting that a rent increase be granted.
  • In Robert W. Gettleman and Elaine Bucklo v. United States of America, we calculated damages regarding the withholding of deductions for Federal income taxes, Medicare, and Judicial Survivors’ Annuities System.

Our challenges — We are increasingly seeing greater demand for our pro bono economic services, which means we are having to transition from actively seeking opportunities to prioritizing the work we are asked to take on.  We have established some basic parameters for the projects we work on.  For example, we initially assess whether our skills can best serve the client, and if not, find an organization who can better assist them.  We also examine the ways in which a proposed project will provide experience and professional development in ways that will enhance our economists’ core strengths.

How serving helps our business — As our professionals work on projects, we both foster and enhance our working relationships with attorneys while simultaneously enabling our economists to grow their skillsets. In some instances, pro bono work has provided our economists with their first testifying opportunity, which can sometimes be difficult to get. Others have been given a first opportunity to lead data work or present to a client. These opportunities enhance and build their experience, making that next time a little easier. It is also a point of pride, share by employees and others, that our community impact is so visible — on the steps of the DC Courthouse, where our professionals provided analysis that led to the installation of a handicap-accessible entryway after our client was injured walking into the building, for example.  We are proud that our reach has been wide in helping members of our community win social justice and access to basic human necessities.  That pride has become a critical part of our brand image.

 Advice for other businesses interested in skills-based volunteerism — Your pro bono practice should be an integrated part of the culture of your organization from the top down. Dedicating resources to doing good in your community not only feels great and helps others, it also creates a positive culture of giving and collaboration within and gives back to your organization in tangible ways you might not have expected.

 Want to learn more?  Contact Kara Gorski, Chief Marketing Officer.

by Rachel Hutchisson, Business Doing Good & Blackbaud, Inc.

Next up is another profile of a firm featured in the new eBook I produced with A Billion+Change and Riggs Partners for #GivingTuesday.  These write ups are being featured one by one with permission from the eBook team.

COTTON7 Global Enterprises builds alliances and partnerships for a better world

Our story — COTTON7 Global Enterprises exists to solve high-risk problems other shy away from.  We are heavily involved in developing and deploying environmental security solutions that better protect the earth and the people that inhibit the planet.  Our clean technology products support road construction, hazardous waste management, mining operations and a wide array of other industry specific needs.

Why we’re unique — More than 70% of our employees are former military personnel.  They come to COTTON7 Global Enterprises with unique skill sets (strategic planning, logistics, engineering, human resources and leadership) that equip them to manage complex projects in high-risk areas around the world all while ensuring the people involved are safe.

Our skills-based volunteerism — The vast majority of our employees have always volunteered their time to special causes, both while in the military and as civilians, sharing their expertise as a way to give back.  As a company, we advise two nonprofit organizations that build schools and clinics in hostile parts of the world.  Our interest in education also led us to establish STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) internships that allow students to work on real-world projects and to get engaged with Junior Achievement’s Titan Business Challenge and Finance Park initiatives.  We are especially proud of our internship program at Brighton High School, which made it possible for about 25 students to participate in a clean technology research and development project.  The program was so well supported by the school community that we are working to enhance the offering.

 Our challenges — Our employees are located throughout the United States, which create some logistical challenges for our skills-based volunteerism projects.  However, given who our employees are and the kinds of experience they bring to our firm, we were able to overcome this hurdle through the use of technology.  We now have a good system for cross country collaboration that really draws on the kind of communication and teamwork our people rely on for our business every day.

How serving helps our business — Skills-base volunteerism temporarily removes our people from their “comfort zones,” which supports their growth as employees and citizens.  It’s one thing to donate money to a community outreach center and another thing entirely to use your skills to completely reconstruct a center to better serve those in need.  Our people are enlightened by the work while being able to help address some of the more pressing social and educational issues in our community and the world.  In the process, they also hone and expand the very skills they use to benefit our customers and the company.  It’s a true win-win.

Advice for other businesses interested in skills-based volunteerism — The key to success in skills-based volunteerism is to start small and establish a plan of action that uses all your technological capabilities.  This plan should include a strategy for how employees can participate in person.  Also, you really need buy in from your top leadership.  That can make or break a program.

Want to learn more?  Contact Spencer Shull, Director, Corporate Logistics.

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by Rachel Hutchisson, Business Doing Good & Blackbaud, Inc.

Deep breath.  #GivingTuesday is a week behind us – but the glow continues! 

What a wonderful day it was — December 2nd — with people around the world showing how much they cared about giving back.  They gave money, time, their voices, their all.  And I’m proud that the company where I work was a part of that.  How much good was done?  We’ll actually never know because there’s simply no way to quantify all the good.  What we do know is how much was given online that day, processed by Blackbaud, as a proxy for how much giving has increased year over year. 

But lets get back to service…  What did your small business do to mark the day?  Did you stick your toe in the water and do something?  If so, kudos.  If not, don’t worry.  You can still get going.

The real focus of #GivingTuesday is to try to widen the pie, to get more people involved in the act of philanthropy.  So the fact that the day itself has passed this year doesn’t mean the opportunity isn’t still there.  I thought, as you considered this opportunity, it might help to have a little inspiration from small businesses that do some really cool things.  This inspiration comes in the form of an eBook called Small Business, Big Purpose: A guide to skills-based volunteerism.

This eBook was a labor of love, produced by Blackbaud (and Business Doing Good), Riggs Partners and A Billion+Change as a way to celebrate #GivingTuesday.  Several terrific distribution partners have joined us in the effort, working to ensure as many small businesses get their hands on a copy.  These partners include Causecast, the Corporation for National Community Service, the Taproot Foundation and the core #GivingTuesday team itself.

Check out the book – and stay tuned to this blog over the next weeks as we highlight the companies in the book, sharing their stories as a source of inspiration for everyone.

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by Rachel Hutchisson, Business Doing Good and Blackbaud

It’s here!  Finally!

TODAY is #GivingTuesday, THE opening day of the gviing season.  How are YOU going to mark the occasion?  I have a few suggestions just in case you can’t think of anything…

1 – Make a donation to a nonprofit you care about

2 – Volunteer your time for an important case

3 – Help your neighbors

4 – Donate a percentage of your profits earned today

Just do something!  I’m marking the day a number of ways, but the one you’ll care about the most is the launch of a new eBook on skills-based volunteerism for small businesses.  Done in partnership with A Billion+Change and Riggs Partners, this eBook tells you everything you need to know about how to get started = why do, how to do it and examples of companies doing great work.  Over the next weeks, I’ll be sharing the stories from the eBook to provide a little inspiration for you.

So stay tuned!!

by Matt Combs of YourCause

 If you tuned it for Building A Culture of Goodwill: Part 1 last week, you now have a goodwill committee established…right!?! Ok, so maybe you haven’t gotten that far, but once you do, you will have made HUGE strides in creating a culture of goodwill in your business. Now you may be asking, “Is that it? Is there nothing else I can do…easily?” Of course not! Below are a couple of ideas on how you can easily integrate giving into your employees’ work life.

 Supporting Individual Passions – It is important to foster and support your employees’ individual passions. A good way to ensure that you are supporting personal causes is to weave goodwill into your employee benefits by introducing philanthropic personal time off (PPTO), also know as volunteer time off (VTO). PPTO is paid time off that employees can use to volunteer during office hours with a charity of their choice. PPTO parameters vary by company, but at YourCause we have found a common cap at two business days or 16 hours. The simple gesture of adding PPTO to your policy manual shows that you are encouraging employees to give back.  After participating in a PPTO event, employees should be invited to share their stories with their co-workers, how serving made them feel and whom or what they impacted. Their enthusiasm about the program will be contagious, allowing the goodwill culture to grow.

Employee Performance and Goodwill – Throughout the year, your goodwill committee will create multiple opportunities for co-workers to participate in social responsibility projects. The project can be as big as a company-wide Habitat for Humanity build or as small as individual opportunities to donate cans to a food pantry. Regardless of how employees get involved, their participation demonstrates how invested they are in the company’s culture and overall performance. Managers should be aware, recognize and encourage participation.

Why should this be important to you? Because companies with engaged employees outperform the competition by as much as 202%. With this in mind, managers should chat with employees about their involvement in goodwill activities during 1×1 check-in meetings and quarterly/annual performance reviews. Although you cannot force participation in goodwill programs, you can gauge their likelihood of sating with your firm based on how invested they are in supporting the company culture.

Ingraining goodwill into your company does not have to be time-consuming or costly. By simply tweaking current practices, adjusting a few benefits, asking for help, and encouraging conversations about goodwill, leaders will begin to see a shift in the company’s culture. I encourage you to make the decision to kick off your goodwill program and quickly reap the benefits of a more productive and retained team of employees.

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