Finding the Perfect Match: 5 Tips for Selecting your Company’s “Charity of Choice”

Employee Engagement

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As individuals, we often find ourselves donating to the charities that are conveniently located right under our noses. I’ll openly admit that in the past I’ve donated to causes I’m not heavily invested in, due in part to the convenience factor. This sometimes prevents us from donating to our favourite causes, which is a less than ideal situation. Unfortunately, many companies also fall into this habit.

All donors, whether they be individuals or companies, should strive to focus their philanthropic efforts on a small group of causes that complement their true calling and passion.

My point is not to say that convenient donations are inherently bad, but that we should remind ourselves that mindful generosity can lead to more meaningful philanthropic engagement. In other words, when we donate to causes we truly care about, we’re more willing to donate our time, spread awareness, and ultimately, donate more money.

When individuals and companies alike switch from philanthropic passiveness to mindful generosity, they have the power through passion to create enormous positive impact.

When it comes time for a company to select a “charity of choice,” the process isn’t always easy. A choice that can be pretty simple for an individual donor can be far more difficult for a company. They’re faced with the challenges of choosing a charity (or cause) that will make its employees happy, complement company values, while also impacting the world.

No doubt this process can be discouraging and can result in a huge loss of opportunity, if poorly calculated. This is why I’ve developed 5 tips that are designed to help companies discover their perfect charitable match.

  1. Solidify your company’s “why.”

When a company really understands its purpose, it’s better equipped to narrow down its philanthropic passion and goals. Simon Sinek explains the concept of the “why” best in his viral TED talk, “Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action” (watch it here). Ask yourself, does this cause complement our brand, our “why,” and our purpose as a company? Remember, this purpose and “why” needs to be embedded within your company culture. Without it, your philanthropic initiatives will look far from genuine.

  1. Choose a philanthropic cause that employees can rally behind.

Make sure that the charity you decide to select has experience and expertise in corporate employee engagement. Innovative and cutting-edge charities realize that corporate donors hold the key to their long-term success and growth. Because of this, many charities understand the importance of creating meaningful opportunities for their corporate donors’ employees via skill-based volunteering and peer-to-peer fundraising initiatives. In addition, many charities now offer support in regards to planning employee charity events and developing employee engagement content, such as blogs and internal news updates about their philanthropic initiatives. Remember, fundraising fatigue is a common complaint amongst employees, so give them a reason to be excited by providing alternatives to employee giving.

  1. Pick a charity that treats you as a partner.

Take the time to pick a charity that is willing to be your partner. Far too often we see charities that ask you for a cheque, say thank you as quickly as possible and then disappear into the abyss until their money runs out. A charity that is willing to work alongside you, collaborate, engage and support, is a charity worth partnering with. Work as a team on determining the best projects, brainstorm together to integrate meaningful cause marketing campaigns into your strategy and ensure accurate and measurable results. This not only helps the charity grow but it also helps your company stay connected to your cause and allows you to fully understand your involvement. This makes all of your other tasks in relation to corporate philanthropy and CSR easier in the long-run.

  1. Do your background checks.

The last thing a company wants to do is invest in a charity with poor accountability, high administration rates and a low impact per dollar. Do your research, talk to other companies that donate to the charity (you can usually find a list of their partners on their website) and thoroughly analyze their annual reports. Need more specific information? Ensure that you ask the right questions when requesting a funding or project proposal. Make sure their results are measurable, impactful and ethical.

  1. Conduct a pilot partnership.

Would you purchase a car without taking it for a test drive or buy a non-refundable piece of clothing without trying it on first? Give your company the chance to test the waters to see if your selected charity is the right fit for you. This may mean investing first in a small donation or committing to a trial period, but this will allow you to gauge their level of passion, innovation, engagement, accountability, transparency and eagerness.  It’s really important to make sure it’s the right fit before you spend the big bucks.

By following these five tips, you’ll be strengthening your chances at landing an incredible new partnership with the potential to create an unbelievable ripple effect of positivity, change, social good and success.

And remember, there’s nothing wrong with having multiple “charities of choice,” if you think it makes sense for your company. What’s important is not how many charities or causes you engage with, but rather, the level in which you are engaging in mindful generosity.

Feel free to comment on this post and leave more tips, share your stories and request other CSR-related blog posts. Follow me @CSRtist for daily tweets on all-things CSR-related!

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