Do you know how you are helping your corporate donors?

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            Probably a better question than the one in the title is: can you articulate to your corporate donors how supporting you is good for their business? In an article titled Why giving is good for business Blake Mycoskie of TOMS describes:” I also saw that TOMS didn’t need conventional advertising; it just had to focus on giving and doing so in a sustainable a way—in other words, on our story. In the process, we would turn countless other strangers into our most vocal marketers.” Working with your charity may offer a strategic or market advantage to some of your corporate supporters. If you are aware of ways that companies benefit by helping you-get good at telling that story. 

          Our charity is supported by a lot of oil and gas companies. Some of these companies are more concerned about an internal or inward message given by their community support instead of an outward message. That is they view a lot of their community investment activity as a human resources activity, they are marketing inward instead of outward. This makes sense. In the same article Mycoskie suggests:” When you incorporate giving into your business in an authentic way, you attract amazing employees. You can only grow and keeping growing if you hire great people. We have employees who have left impressive companies and with generous perks to work in a warehouse without air conditioning or heat. And the reason certainly isn’t because we pay them more. It’s because they want to be part of something bigger. In fact, the greatest competitive advantage you have is to allow your employees to feel they’re making a difference.”

       Our Ronald McDonald Houses runs a program we call Home for Dinner. In the program groups of 3 to 12 people bring in groceries and cook a meal for all the families staying at the House. All sorts of groups now do these dinners but 9 years ago we only had three groups a month who would make these dinners.  The dinners reduce costs for our families and free up time so they can spend more with their child who is seriously ill. We wanted to increase the number of groups making dinners for families, because it was a benefit for our users. We started talking about the program to all of our corporate supporters as a potential team builder for some of their staff. We knew that many of our corporate donors were interested in ways to engage their employees in the charities the companies were supporting. Little did we know how doing something that was good for families would also be good for our fund development program. I could tell you countless stories of how companies continued to give larger gifts as their employees became more engaged with our program. One of our presenting sponsors of our biggest fundraising events had supported us for three years. At the end of the term they thought it was time to support another cause, so their community investment team sent an email to all staff encouraging them to vote between three other charities as the company’s charity of choice. Instead of votes the employees emailed back we love Ronald McDonald House- we know those families we ate dinner with them. Ultimately the company signed on as presenting sponsor for three more years. 

         Encouraging their employees to volunteer or become engaged with nonprofits is good business. In the United Health Care/ Volunteer Do Good Live Well study they found;” Encouragement from the workplace strengthens volunteers’ relationships with their employer and colleagues. This research shows that company involvement in employee volunteer opportunities can lead to employee well‐being and positive attitudes towards employers.”  In the study the researchers found that 81% of the respondents said that volunteering with work colleagues had strengthened their relationships with colleagues.” Most of the companies we work with are pretty concerned about having strong, productive teams. Most invest money in activities and events specifically directed towards team building. Getting back to the intention of some of our corporate supporters to create a positive message to their employees about the company through their community investment, the same study found that 76% reported feeling better about their employer because of involvement in their volunteer activity.

Nine years ago we had three groups a month, now we have a dinner group almost every night of the year. Everyone wins with this program our families, our organization and our corporate donors. Now that we are booked for dinners usually a month or two in advance, we prioritize staff from corporate groups who are significant and repeat donors to our charity. We offer this as a benefit to corporations who support us. When we are courting companies that we want to become donors we describe this program as an opportunity that they will be entitled to as a corporate donor.   Years ago we asked companies to have their employee’s help us with this program from what we thought was a place of need. Now we know the program can function as a donor stewardship activity for our current donors and as an added incentive for corporate prospects. What is really great it is it is a volunteer activity that makes it even more likely that the company and its employees will become even more engaged in what we do.

References

 Mycoskie,B . (2014) Why Giving is Good for Business as retrieved from: 

           http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140219125038-6418773-why-giving-is-good-for-business?goback=%2Empd2_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_20140219125038*56418773*5why*5giving*5is*5good*5for*5business&trk=prof-post

 

Volunteer Match (2010) UnitedHealthcare / VolunteerMatch Do Good Live Well Study: Reviewing the

          Benefits of volunteering; as retrieved from:

http://cdn.volunteermatch.org/www/about/UnitedHealthcare_VolunteerMatch_Do_Good_Live_Well_Study.pdf

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