Let’s be honest, the days of just writing a check for a table at a luncheon or gala and chatting through a chicken dinner are over (or at least they should be). Don’t get me wrong, the nonprofit community needs unrestricted funds and an event sponsorship is a great way to get those dollars, but don’t let your “philanthropy” stop there. In today’s world of corporate giving we should be creating strategic partnerships and leveraging giving opportunities rather than habits associated with solely making one-time gifts. Make your giving work better for you – and the community.
Instead of stopping after the ink dries on your check, think about how to leverage those dollars to boost employee engagement and increase community benefit. You could try funding a volunteer project to be completed with paid “Volunteer Time Off” and then offer increased employee donation matching funds on the day of the project. In one day you have created a stronger relationship between you, your team and the nonprofit benefiting from the project. After that, I assure you that the organization you supported will quickly come up with more worthwhile partnership opportunities than you can possibly keep track of or participate in.
Often, we need to take a step back and look a bit more closely at our company’s philanthropy and ask whether or not we are thinking about community involvement from all the areas our employees care about. Austin is thriving, and companies are consistently competing for the best talent available and we know a philanthropic focus holds an increasing amount of weight for prospective employees. “How can we better leverage our giving to include and impact our employees, their families, and the community?” should be a question you ask frequently when deciding a path for your community engagement. If you take the time to understand your team and where their passions are, and then carefully look for an organization or project that matches up with the heart of your people – you’ll immediately find a win-win-win for you, your team and the community.
Chelsea Woodhead oversees communications, philanthropy, staff engagement and corporate culture at BuildASign.com. She joined BuildASign.com in 2010 and helped launch the company’s formal Giving Program, which has provided more than $600,000 worth of in-kind donations to more than 750 nonprofit organizations to date. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Austin Pro Bono and is a member of the Junior League of Austin. She earned her bachelor’s degrees in public relations, political science and women’s studies from Gonzaga University.