While giving $100 to your favorite charity or volunteering at a local food bank will make you feel great and provides an excellent example to others in your community, there is a practical limit to the benefits and impact we can all personally have on our community.
But when hundreds or thousands of people get together and coordinate their giving, amazing things can happen. This is one of the reasons why organizations opt to create their own charity.
Beyond the benefits to the community, however, a corporate charity provides benefits to the business itself.
Reputation: Many consumers and businesses make buying decisions based on how they feel about a company and how that company operates – including how it gives back to the community.
Social Media: A company involved in strategic corporate giving will reap the benefits of positive social media mentions and sharing.
Employee Engagement:Charitable giving improves employee engagement by boosting ethical behavior, gratitude to the organization, and pride in their work.
Teamwork:When a corporate giving program brings together people from all levels of the organization – from C-level to front line – everyone feels like they are working together toward a common goal. This feeling of effective teamwork can extend beyond the corporate charity to positively influence other aspects of work.
Now before you go out and create the next “Run for the Cure” or “Kaiser Walk,” take some time to ensure you’re well positioned to make it a success. Based on lessons learned through the creation of our Ceridian Cares charity, here are five best practices for creating your own corporate charity:
Know your employee preferences
Do you have a millennial employee base that values environmental protection? or a “family-first” population that wants to save children? Knowing your employee preferences can help you establish the “priority” or the “cause” that your charity supports. A simple survey will help you determine predilections.
Choose a cause aligned with your brand
Do you sell hiking equipment with an “explore the world” brand? Then maybe your charity should relate to saving the rainforest. Do you sell software focused on finding specific restaurants? Then maybe your charity should support food banks. The charitable focus or cause should align with your brand as an organization.
Spend time and money for due diligence
Take the time to investigate IRS (US) or CRA (Canada) requirements when it comes to setting up and operating a charity. Obtain legal counsel to help navigate the application process and ensure your charity is set up properly. You don’t want to get your employees excited about building houses for the homeless, only to find out that your liability insurance doesn’t cover that type of employee activity, or that you aren’t allowed to accept donations because you don’t have the correct not-for-profit status.
Recruit the RIGHT board of directors
Having experience on a not-for-profit board seems to be all the rage these days, as it looks so great on a resume. But make sure your BOD members are in it for more than resume building. The BOD is there to govern and provide strategic advice and its members must come prepared to meetings and be thoughtful in their counsel. Before bringing directors on board, ask them about why they want to join and how they hope to impact the organization. Answers should relate to the impact the charity can have and the community, NOT only their own rewards.
Establish charity champions within the company
Across all functional areas and all levels of the organization, identify champions that will speak to the value and importance of getting involved with your corporate charity. Communication is key in launch phase, ensuring employees (and the public) understand the purpose of the charity, how it operates, and the GOOD that results from its operation. Stories are a powerful way to demonstrate impact and Charity Champions can share these across the organization and encourage others to get involved.
Establishing your own corporate charity can multiply efforts to give back to the community and make a positive impact on the world. The positives definitely outweigh the challenges. Just be sure to create something that your employees will rally behind so that your company can have a real impact on the community.