September 28, 2016

7 Tactics to Enhance Your Firm’s Return on Philanthropy

This post has been revised since its first publication.

Here are some ideas I’m advocating to businesses to achieve faster and more lasting results in their philanthropic pursuits: Doll with a Dice Showing Win on every side

  1. Determine three goals for your philanthropy. You might choose to pay it forward, enhance employee skills or grow your brand. What percent of your gifts will you dedicate to these goals? What percent will you put aside for requests that come over the threshold?    
  2. Prefer “win, win, win” opportunities. Give where the community wins, nonprofits win, and your firm wins. Triple wins provide the best return and increase everyone’s well- being. 
  3. Determine how you handle requests? Will you direct them to one person? Let everyone champion their favorite causes? Establish a committee to review? What will you do about seepage; that is, requests that fail to follow the established path? How will you respond to the pressure to give, say from a major customer, with minimal wins?
  4. Establish the best way to engage employees. Will you offer time off to serve? Match their donations? Offer discounts to nonprofit where employee volunteer? Require employee engagement prior to business cash donations? Will you invite competitive teams to raise funds?
  5. What gifts will you discontinue? Might anything the nonprofit does or offers change your mind? If not, how will you manage the push back? 
  6. Evaluate major gifts of time and money. Count the relationships nurtured. Tally lessons and insights gained. Estimate branding boosts. How is the community better? How did the nonprofit change? Look at your bottom line impact.
  7. Market your good works. If you can’t passionately and dramatically talk about how you give back to the community, then who will?

Print this list. Use it to achieve a return on your philanthropy, quicker. 


Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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