THE “I” IN PHILANTHROPY
By Dawn Gardener
In many of today’s boardrooms and on the agenda of meetings and top corporate initiatives are ideas about supporting social causes. Amongst the attendees is advocacy buzzing for answers surrounding the question “what are we doing to serve our community or help others?” Many of today’s organizations are fully aware that a critical component contributing to customer loyalty is having a long-standing social responsibility message. This responsibility must be considered in all businesses regardless of size, product or service, revenue and profits, or number of employees. The idea of being a philanthropist must be a part of any successful business strategy.
On social media platforms, fundraising venues, and for profit and non-profit businesses, we see an increase in call for donations, volunteers, and communities to come together to embrace and support causes. They include environmental, family, religion, diversified groups, political action groups, animals, and global initiatives. One need to only look at YouTube, the evening news, in discussions with neighbors and friends, to see the growing lists of persons and organizations in need. As summer is upon us, we see fundraisers in the form of runs and walks, food drives, car washes, sporting tournaments, etc. drawing attention to the greater needs of our society and asking persons to join their army of heroes.
In these modern times with fraud being so prevalent and identity theft at a heightened level of activity, many businesses and individuals are concerned with scams from persons or organizations who are running illegitimate causes. Every day, we hear stories of donations, which annually run into the millions of dollars, being scammed from unsuspecting “good-hearted” citizens who want to help. Tragically, these stories serve as a reminder as to why legitimate causes are scrutinized much more than in the past. The questioning of these causes contributes to either a delay in donations or an outright “no.” This forces our greater society to suffer as a whole since the actions of a few crooked individuals diminish the likelihood of us taking care of those in great need.
We are desperately in need of heroes. There is a child, organization, animal, or on a grander scale, our planet in the need of help. How can you matter? In your brand strategy, seek to find a cause that resonates with you or your customers. Genuinely and passionately seek out causes needing help in various ways. Upon finding your cause or causes, showcase your commitment and reach out immediately and market how your skills, expertise, or financial contribution can help them meet their mission – registering your organization as “community friendly.” Then bask in the great feeling which comes with helping to make a difference.
Fit people into categories
Don’t know where to start? Open your mouth and begin dialoging with those in your inner circle. Find the causes that best fit your views, organization, vision, and passion. Check into local churches for food pantries, call veteran associations to see how you can help with clothing, transportation, etc. for a wounded warrior, or have your inner circle offer ideas for where you can shine.
Do your own research
Yes, there is an app for that! Research charities and see if they offer the option of donating via services or through other programs via an app. There are apps donations of talking time, walking, and other creative means for giving. Seek and you will find. Once you have decided, research the cause. Legitimate charities will have public records on their financials. Beyond the money, be sure you are okay with being affiliated with the cause by checking them in the news, social media, and a phone call directly to them to learn more.
Talk about it
As mentioned earlier with concerns for scams, I would suggest seeking opportunities by talking to others outside of your inner circle. See if you can speak to existing sponsors, etc. Still having doubt? Look at partnering with other businesses that have established relationships with causes of your choice.