National Nonprofit Day falls on August 17 this year. If you have a favorite nonprofit organization, now is an excellent time to show your support by making a generous donation. And if you’re a business leader, National Nonprofit Day is a great time to think about how your company can support worthy causes through nonprofits all year long.
For-profit companies are in business to make money — it’s right there in the name. As for-profit business leaders, our primary obligation is to serve our stakeholders, so our actions as leaders aren’t purely altruistic. But when our interests as a business align with community interests, we can take action that benefits everyone, and with a thoughtful approach, that can be a beautiful thing.
There are a lot of ways to structure a corporate philanthropy program and support nonprofit organizations through a business. For example, Salesforce has been an innovator in giving back. The company not only donates hundreds of millions directly, it offers programs like the Philanthropy Cloud, which aims to connect businesses and employees to nonprofit organizations at scale, and provides up to 10 free licenses to nonprofits so they can operate more efficiently.
Most companies don’t always have those levels of resources to donate, but organizations of any size can make a difference. At Full Circle, nearly every one of our employees works with national nonprofits such as Bay Area Lyme Foundation and Alcoholics Anonymous or local organizations such as Spokane Youth Choirs or Episcopal Community Services in San Francisco or Olive Branch Parks and Recreation in Mississippi.
Here are some ideas about how to give back to your community through non-profit organizations:
- Put your workforce to work: Employees are typically conscious of their employer’s charitable activities and supportive of philanthropic efforts, which is why generous companies benefit on the recruiting and retention But your staff might be unsure about how to direct their own volunteer efforts and/or open to suggestions from you.
A program that leverages their skills can channel employees’ good intentions in a positive direction and help the larger community at the same time. At Full Circle, if an employee wishes it, we will pay our highly skilled staff to deploy technology in schools. The schools benefit from free expertise, employees get the satisfaction that comes with doing a good deed, and the business benefits from satisfied employees and a community that has more of the resources it needs.
- Consider increasing your philanthropic impact by joining a larger effort: You can make a difference by donating to a nonprofit, no matter what size business you run. But when companies combine their efforts, the results can be transformative. Pledge 1% is a great example of how that can work.
Pledge 1% is building a corporate philanthropy movement by asking participants to donate 1% of their equity, time, product and profit. Pledge 1% provides resources, case studies and guidance to help participants create an effective strategy. Full Circle has taken the pledge, and we can attest that the nonprofit has changed Silicon Valley culture in a positive way!
- Provide VTO: As part of our pledge to donate time though Pledge 1%, Full Circle provides employees with paid volunteer time off (VTO). The average number of hours Americans work per year is approximately 2080, and 1% of that is slightly over 20 hours. We round it up and give employees three days of paid VTO.
VTO gives employees time to support the causes they care about most deeply. It’s a way for the company to support a good cause while giving employees the opportunity to put their individual stamp on their volunteer efforts by choosing their own nonprofit cause.
Every company is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all formula to create an effective corporate philanthropy program. It is also important to keep in mind that the obligation to company stakeholders comes first. But when you find an area where your business interests align with the larger community’s, you and your organization can make an enormous difference with a philanthropy strategy. And National Nonprofit Day is a wonderful time to give the topic some thought.