Guest Opinion: Focused charitable giving changes everything

Ron FredericksonAn African proverb states, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” 

Together, we must all focus on charitable giving to well-managed nonprofit organizations. Shrinking government budgets mean that nonprofits have declining resources and are seeking private funding from businesses and business leaders. Nonprofits will be changing their business models in order to remain vital and effective. Mergers and acquisitions with other related organizations are most likely on the horizon.

With charitable giving, the adage “When all is said and done, more is said than done” is sometimes true. So what do business owners do when they have a passion for giving, but don’t have as many financial resources to give as they wish they had?

Consider the example of my wife, Terry, and me. Over the years, we have selected organizations that we believe in, donated the cash we can, and then used our business knowledge and skills to help them be even more successful.

As an example, Innovative Services, a nonprofit organization here in Vancouver, had a parcel of land donated to it. But the organization had no idea what to do next. While cash donations are always important, so is the donation of expertise. Through RSV’s experience and industry relationships, the company spent tens of thousand of dollars creating drawings, engineering analysis, detailed pricing, construction schedules and cash flow projections that were the basis for a capital campaign, all at no charge to Innovative Services. Additionally, Terry and I served on the capital campaign committee for the five years it took to complete the funding. I was tasked with asking EW Firstenburg, the founder of First Independent Bank for a one million dollar gift. After months of effort, it was one of the highlights of my career when he said “Yes.”

There are many nonprofit organizations in our community that have diverse needs. Just like any other business, nonprofits have to wade through legal, financial, human resource and other operational challenges in order to continue to accomplish their organizational missions. Local businesses and business leaders can make significant impacts by reaching out to the nonprofit community to find ways they can donate expertise and time. 

A few of the other nonprofit organizations that we have committed our time, talent  and treasures to include the YWCA, Zion Lutheran Church, CDM Services, the YMCA, and most recently, Share. 

With Share, we assisted in evaluating several existing buildings it was considering purchasing. Each time, RSV and our construction industry partners donated detailed budgets to allow the nonprofit to make good decisions. We were there every step of the way, helping raise capital, obtain grants, focusing on efficiency and making sure that not a single dollar was wasted. Once again I served on the capital campaign committee. And recently, one of RSV’s clients stepped forward with a substantial donation to allow the first phase of the Share Fromhold Service Center to begin construction. 

In order for nonprofits to successfully raise funds, they must be well managed, efficient and credible. Donors demand top performance so they know their monetary gift will be used to its full potential. Once an organization has proven itself to potential donors, the process of raising funds becomes slightly less difficult. 

Not only is it personally satisfying to give back to the community, but it often leads to open doors for your business. By connecting with and helping the nonprofit community, a business raises its profile and awareness in a way that is authentic and genuine. In the long run, these types of connections can allow businesses to make connections and open doors that might have otherwise been inaccessible. 

Terry and I live and work in this community. Charitable giving, and using the skills and abilities you have to give even more, is truly “heavy lifting.” We choose, through our personal efforts, to do this hard work because at the end of our lives, we want to insure that our efforts in this community have truly changed everything for children and their families.

  Ron Frederiksen is president of RSV Building Solutions. He can be reached at (360) 693-8830 or ron@rsvbuilding.com.

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