Developing a strategy
The first step in developing a corporate giving strategy is to determine who will lead the process. Either an executive team or a committee can be formed to guide the development of a giving plan and determine which types of organizations will benefit. The team may want to clearly define what role the company currently plays in the community and acknowledge employees’ interests and causes to which they are committed. Considerations such as these will help in defining the giving strategy. The committee can be tasked with carrying out the strategy and ensuring or encouraging employee involvement.
The plan should take into account whether the company will donate money only, if it will provide service hours for employees to engage with nonprofits, or both. For many businesses, it has become conventional practice to provide employees with a designated amount of paid time off annually for volunteer work. In 2010, 89 percent of leading companies had a formal employee volunteer program according to the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy’s 2011 Giving in Numbers Survey.
An annual giving budget should be assigned and integrated into the annual corporate budget. There are no absolute standards when it comes to determining a budget, but giving efforts from previous years can be used as a baseline. Alternatively, some companies may choose to select a percentage of the organization’s net profits or gross annual sales.
Written guidelines should be drafted and shared with employees. These guidelines define requirements for company support and can be used to determine whether or not the programs supported are consistent with the company’s giving goals. These guidelines can also reinforce the goals and objectives of the giving program.
ROI of giving strategy
Corporate giving not only provides benefits to nonprofits, but it can provide positive return for the company itself. Partnering with nonprofits that have a mission aligning with the company’s values can support the overall business plan and impact company brand awareness and affinity.
While the foundation for corporate philanthropy is typically to give back and support the community, companies have numerous opportunities to leverage their efforts, including employee recognition and media coverage.
Sponsorship of specific fundraising events or the development of a signature program can increase company name recognition and goodwill among the community. If the company already works closely with one nonprofit, the development of a signature program might be considered. For example, Macy’s department store created the annual Shop For A Cause Event to raise money for March of Dimes, and Starbucks has worked with Conservation International to develop their Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) practices, which establish guidelines to help farmers grow coffee in a sustainable manner.
An annual giving report or corporate social responsibility report can highlight employee volunteer efforts and quantify giving for a stronger sense of impact. An annual report might share how many meals were provided or the number of school supplies or clothes given at a charity drive, in addition to sharing donated dollar amounts. Such a report can also be placed on a company’s website, issued to key stakeholders and shared with the media.
Ultimately, a strong strategy for corporate giving keeps efforts focused and provides intangible rewards to the nonprofit as well as the organization and its employees.
Kristy Weaver is a senior vice president and relationship banking manager at Pacific Continental Bank. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.