The Business of Giving: Lessons From the Data
Many of the insights provided by survey respondents serve as learning opportunities and can help influence philanthropic practices among businesses. Here are a few important lessons gleaned from the survey data:
Set a Philanthropic Tone at the Top
CEOs are most likely to make the giving decisions for their companies; and a high percentage of companies (nearly half) have a formal giving strategy, provide philanthropic/giving language in the company’s materials, and let executives manage their giving initiatives.
Employees often take their cues from owners/management. If your leadership is committed to giving, it will instill this culture throughout the entire company in an impactful way. One concern: At companies where the CEO makes philanthropy decisions, community giving programs could go away or lose steam during CEO transition periods. That’s another reason philanthropy should be embedded into corporate strategy/culture.
Amplify Your Giving
Central Texas companies most often choose to support local nonprofits with their philanthropy. Community-based campaigns like Amplify Austin provide great opportunities to engage employees and take advantage of matching support.
During last year’s Amplify Austin, corporate contributions were responsible for 10% of charitable giving on the day.
Listen to Employees
When asked about potential downsides of business philanthropy, 31% of respondents noted that selected causes may not always align with individual employee values. Additionally, a comment from a survey respondent expressed a concern about asking too much: “Our employees already work hard enough and pressuring them to do more takes time away from their families.”
We suggest having regular and open communication with employees about philanthropic initiatives, soliciting their feedback and suggestions to foster a feeling of collaboration and ownership in a company’s giving strategy.
Partner With a Nonprofit
According to the survey, only 10% of companies partner exclusively with one nonprofit, and 25% said that their company does not have ongoing partnerships with nonprofits.
Nonprofits need long-term partners — and sustainable forms of revenue. And nearly 50% of survey respondents said that one of the criteria they use to select nonprofits to support is the nonprofit’s “perceived alignment of the mission to our customer and clients.” Cultivating relationships with nonprofits allows your company to cross promote in a more meaningful way, and to have a deeper hand in the impact you’re making together.
Look at BIPoC-Led Organizations
When asked how their company chooses nonprofits to support, more than half look at the population served. But only 11% look at whether a nonprofit is BIPoC-led (BIPoC stands for “Black, Indigenous and People of Color”). This seems incongruent in a community where reaching and supporting BIPoC populations is an important goal for many companies and their employees (more than 60% of respondents said their company supports human services and health & wellness organizations).
See where your company’s philanthropy efforts align with supporting BIPoC issues and consider using that as a criteria for choosing nonprofits to support in the future.
Make a Plan – and Track Results
Companies with a philanthropy plan often tend to stay more committed to their charitable giving and make a bigger impact. It’s important to quantify your company’s contribution. Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents said their company doesn’t track individual giving or volunteer hours, and 43% don’t measure the ROI or impact of their charitable investments.
This suggests room for improvement, as quantifying your company’s (and employees’) contributions helps create a sense of pride and accomplishment across your business, while also providing benchmarks for future philanthropic efforts and goals.
Measure Your Philanthropy ROI
Return-on-investment (ROI) is a critical measuring stick in business – but it can be just as important for a company’s philanthropy program. If one of your goals is employee engagement, for example, your company should measure that in terms of volunteer hours and other contributions.
One survey respondent commented, “There is no ROI from charitable contributions.” Few respondents agree with this, as demonstrated by the results themselves: Among the motivations for giving, companies look to reinforce workplace culture, help attract and retain employees, enhance employee skills, and increase revenue and market share.
When in Doubt, Give Financial Support
Among survey respondents, monetary donations are the most popular way to contribute to nonprofits (85% cited this method) – and for good reason. Most nonprofits simply cannot survive without financial support. Mission Capital’s Pulse Survey identified “funding & financial support” as the top need for local nonprofits.
Your company’s contributions can help nonprofits allocate resources and provide critical services where they are needed most.