Corporate and Foundation Philanthropy Programs—Giving with Impact

Corporations and Foundations can have a profound impact on nonprofits through philanthropy. With all that is happening in the world today, this is a perfect time to build, reevaluate or expand philanthropic giving programs. Corporate philanthropy (corporate giving or corporate social responsibility) are becoming increasingly important—companies that haven’t given back in the past are taking a hard look at how to change, while foundations that do have a history of philanthropy are reevaluating their programs to make social responsibility more of a thoughtful process and priority.

Corporate philanthropy is a voluntary investment in social causes, issues or nonprofits. “Doing well by doing good,” is certainly a good start when positioning a program, but to see genuine change, corporate giving should be so much more.

Philanthropic giving programs must be strategic, cost-effective, value-enhancing and deliver a meaningful impact. It should never be treated as a “check the box” program. It must be executed just as professionally and proactively as any other core business plan.

In our experience as philanthropic consultants, we’ve witnessed a majority of giving program as being scattered and unfocused—an occasional donation made to a random gala, university or hospital; an in-kind donation to a golf tournament; or a haphazard sponsorship budget that is given out here and there without regard for a company’s mission, vision or goals. When there is no genuine, cohesive plan or consistent community investment, there’s no community impact.

A corporate philanthropy program must align with philanthropic pursuits that best match the existing corporate culture of your business, mission statement, products, services, social and economic goals. Most importantly, you need to understand how to make those pursuits mean something. At its core, those pursuits can consist of:

Employee & Community Engagement

Corporate giving programs help deepen the relationship with employees, customers and community. It can also increase employee and customer happiness and retention.

Recruitment

Make a name for your business and help to shape the values of the next generation workforce. Additionally, giving programs can be used as a benefit to attract employees and top talent.

Impact

Fostering meaningful partnerships with nonprofits, making a difference in the local community where you live, work and play. It’s important to measure your giving programs and communicate impact, celebrate success and evaluate on how to continuously improve.

From the ground up, strategic corporate giving programs must involve your employees, your customers and the community to ensure that your actions will harvest maximum change. If done right, philanthropic efforts can be a success for the communities you support, engage your employees, enhance your brand, build relationships with customers and improve your bottom line.

The Consultants at Empreinte Consulting, LLC help businesses and foundations enhance the impact of their philanthropy. We can help you establish a philanthropic plan or enhance your current corporate giving program—making your charitable dollars work smarter and reach further. We look forward to talking to you about how that can help your organization and the communities you serve.

How Nonprofits Can Manage the Post-COVID Impact

As fundraisers and nonprofit consultants, we have learned very valuable lessons from the COVID crisis. Nonprofits were under extremely trying circumstances as they attempted to quickly adapt their systems and programs and were forced to stretch their already limited resources and funding. As nonprofits continue to adapt to the ever-changing landscape, the question remains: what’s next?

Over the past few months, we have spoken and worked with many nonprofits that are worrying about how they will continue to sustain important programs, services and funding sources. These organizations foresee deep scars and a struggle to return to pre-COVID strength. We continue to advise organizations that adaptability and agility will be important in navigating the economic and societal uncertainties, shifting priorities and in building a strong organizational foundation to tackle the post-COVID future.

As nonprofits begin to transition and plan for life after this pause, here are some key takeaways and tips in helping nonprofits to adapt to the impact of the crisis while building the future.

Realign Your Strategy & Fundraising Plans

If your organization has not already done so, now is the time to step in and temporarily realign your organization’s strategy and fundraising plans. Instead of looking at your plans on a one, three or five-year level, refocus and reevaluate at the one, three to six-month mark to rethink and refine your nonprofits goals, objectives and metrics.

Review your organization’s funding needs and how the crisis has resulted in changed priorities. Conduct funder research to find good prospects for new and emerging services. Emphasize donor engagement and retention.

Reevaluate and continue to review your organization’s annual grant proposal and development calendar and update it frequently. Additionally, consider mimicking a year-end appeal now instead of year-end. Donors that intend to continue their giving are concerned about the increased need in their communities. Explain how your organization’s mission addresses these needs through personal stories, if possible. When you work to retain your donors while broadening your network of supporters you position your organization to withstand hard times.

Reexamine Your Mission & Vision

Reexamine how your organization frames the value of your work and why your mission matters now. Revisit your vision and how it relates to social impact—the impact you’re trying to create and how you plan to create it. Then share this messaging with your donors, volunteers, partners and staff to educate, rally and motivate.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Continue to prioritize outreach and have honest conversations with your volunteers, donors and stakeholders about the status of your organization to make sure they understand your needs. Ask them direct questions about their plans and intentions so that you can get some sense of the reliability of your revenue streams. If you are finding volunteerism is declining due to health concerns, brainstorm and communicate ways for regular volunteers to be of service, particularly if they can assist from the safety of their homes.

Additionally, ensure that your organization shows appreciation often. Plan for the long term by creating new ways to communicate and engage with your supporters. Use video acknowledgements, hand-written thank you notes, text updates and phone calls from board members to recognize donors, key prospects and volunteers.

Rethink Event Planning

Don’t cancel summer or fall events…rethink them. Events can be a large percentage of annual fundraising plans, consider hosting virtual events, auctions and holding flash fundraisers to replace them.

During this challenging time, Empreinte Consulting, LLC continues to offer our perspectives and lessons learned from years of experience working in nonprofit advisory leadership and consulting positions. Please contact us to learn more about best practices and optimal strategies to help your organization build a path through this crisis and beyond.

How Nonprofits & Philanthropists Can Adapt During COVID-19

This is a unique time in our history as we are all adapting to a new way of living with COVID-19 in our communities.  Nonprofit organizations are living in a world of uncertainty as they must cancel events and limit their interactions with donors. Philanthropic revenue is such a critical part of every nonprofit’s operational budget and there is no question that this virus will put a financial strain on several nonprofits. During this temporary shift in activity, the organizations that plan and strategize will prove to be the most effective moving forward. Ask yourself, will you be prepared to fundraise effectively once this is behind us?

It is easy to panic during these uncertain times and question what steps to take as an organization. However, this may present the perfect opportunity to assess your operations, develop a thoughtful strategic plan and create a clear message of need that will resonate with your donors. Looking inward during this time will allow you to engage your donors in a meaningful way in the future. Nonprofits that are organized, well run and impactful when using philanthropic dollars will continue to be the most appealing to donors and have the greatest impact on our community.

When we council our philanthropic clients, the first thing that we assess is the organizational efficiency of the nonprofits they are looking to support. What is your cost to raise a dollar? How well are you able to clearly articulate the need for philanthropic support and the impact it will have on your mission? Are your nonprofit leaders strategic, thoughtful and mission driven? These are critical questions that will determine whether a donor makes a gift to your nonprofit or chooses another organization. This is especially true for major and principal gift donors.

As an altruistic philanthropist looking to help a mission that is important to you and your family, how do you decide where to allocate your limited budget? This is a critically important question that may not always be easy to answer without proper guidance.

The consultants at Empreinte Consulting bring more than 100 years of collective fundraising experience and are positioned to partner with you during this difficult time. Whether you are a nonprofit looking to develop your strategy and determine how to engage donors, or the philanthropist and corporate leader looking to impact your community, we are here to help. Taking the time now to develop a plan will make all the difference in the world and ensure the greatest impact on our community.

#helpingthosewhohelpothers

 Marc Misiurewicz

President

Empreinte Consulting, LLC

Increase your employee morale through philanthropy and volunteerism

December 2, 2019/mmisiurewicz

There are several ways in which CEO’s and company executives look to increase their employee morale while retaining and attracting the best employees.  One strategy to accomplish this goal that is often not fully developed is charitable giving.  Companies spend a lot of time and money supporting nonprofit missions in their community while not having the intended results.  Yes, companies will make donations that benefit nonprofit organizations, but often there is little strategy behind their charitable efforts and the impact internally and externally is minimal.  We have all seen the Gala or golf tournament sponsorship where no employees attend the event, or the outright gift that was spent without the company knowing how it was used.  Philanthropy can be a powerful tool that can have numerous positive ramifications if coordinated appropriately.  One positive outcome is increasing employee morale.

A 2017 Deloitte survey* on volunteerism showed that 89% of respondents believed that companies who are charitable and sponsor volunteer activities offer a better overall working environment.  The philanthropic support provided does not directly impact the day to day work of each employee, yet employees respect companies that care for their community.  The charitable activities make employees feel good and increases the emotional attachment to their employer.  If the employer takes the additional step to include the employees in their charitable activities, this emotional attachment grows exponentially.

The motivation for these charitable activities can vary from altruism to marketing and visibility in the community to financial benefits through tax deductions.  Regardless of the intent, the impact on a nonprofit can be significant.  By developing a thoughtful charitable strategy, companies can maximize their impact and directly improve employee morale which leads to increased productivity and employee retention.  Knowing who to involve in the development of this charitable strategy and how to have the greatest impact can be challenging.  By partnering with the experts at Empreinte Consulting, LLC, we can guide you through this process and develop a plan that engages your employees while fulfilling your philanthropic mission.

At a time when it is increasingly difficult to attract and retain talented professionals, developing a clear and thoughtful charitable plan can provide your company and the organizations you support with multiple benefits.  Your employees will thank you.

#helpingthosewhohelpothers

 

Marc Misiurewicz

President

Empreinte Consulting, LLC

 

Can you afford NOT to invest in fundraising?

Every day, leaders of nonprofit organizations struggle with the same question…where do I invest our resources knowing that we have a limited budget?  No matter how large or small your nonprofit may be, this question rings true.  This is especially challenging as you consider how to invest donor dollars in your organization.  The need to support mission-based programs exists every day.  What about the operations?  How does a CEO or Executive Director determine when it is appropriate to invest in the infrastructure and/or operations?

The answer lies in the potential return on that investment.  I would argue that the greatest potential return from an investment within a nonprofit exists within Development.  Fundraising has a quantifiable and justifiable return, yet many nonprofit leaders cringe at the idea of spending money to raise money. If I were to present you with a scenario where you could invest $.20 and receive $1.00, would you agree that is a good decision?  Of course you would!  Yet, when presented with the possibility of hiring Development staff, promoting a Development Officer to retain them, providing the proper database or administrative resources to your Development team which increases efficiencies, or working with a Consultant who has expertise in fundraising, the answer is generally NO.

There is a very transient nature within the Development industry as there are numerous opportunities for talented professionals across the country.  A recent study conducted by Reeher, a Blackbaud company, showed that less than 50% of Gift Officers nationally raised $500,000 or more in 2017. The reason for this is that many GO’s have not been in their current position long.  The average tenure for a Gift Officer is less than 3 years, yet the average time to secure a first major gift from a donor is 4.9 years.  How do organizations expect to obtain major funding when Development staff are constantly changing, or lack the resources necessary to effectively fundraise?  Imagine if organizations invested in Development at a level that caused higher retention, increased morale and provided appropriate resources to maximize philanthropic return.  That is exactly what you find in the highest performing nonprofit organizations across higher education, healthcare and human services.

Whether you are considering a campaign, or looking to increase your philanthropic revenue, investing in Development is necessary.  That can come in many forms and starts with a thorough analysis of your current operations and personnel, which is where Empreinte Consulting, LLC (www.empreinteconsulting.com) can help.  Our years of expertise in fundraising coupled with our familiarity with best practices in high performing nonprofits, can position your organization to maximize philanthropic revenue while creating a sustainable process.  At a time when nonprofits are under constant financial strain, an investment in Development can provide the return that will take your organization to new heights.  Ask yourself…can you afford NOT to invest in fundraising?

Marc Misiurewicz

President

Empreinte Consulting, LLC

 

#helpingthosewhohelpothers

The value of a Philanthropic Advisor

As an altruistic philanthropist, you look to have the greatest impact possible on the missions you care about most. Giving of yourself is one of the most important and intimate things you will do in life. When making the decision to give of yourself to advance important missions, you often consult your lawyer, accountant, and/or investment advisor. For many of you—especially those of you with complex business needs—each advisor plays an important role on your professional “team”. They help ensure that you are making the best decision based on your personal situation. However, there is one additional subject matter expert that would help you tremendously…

A Philanthropic Advisor has skills that complement those of the other professionals who provide you advice on legal, tax, and financial matters. We have worked in nonprofit organizations and understand the power of philanthropy in a way that many will never know. If you are already giving to charity or considering a gift at some point in the future, connecting with a Philanthropic Advisor at Empreinte Consulting, LLC can help you create a thoughtful and personal giving plan to make a meaningful difference on the causes you care about most. When making a decision this important, why wouldn’t you want an expert guide in the process?

Here are six reasons to team up with a Philanthropic Advisor from Empreinte:

1. We know the options. Charitable giving can be a complex field. There are so many ways in which you can have an impact. Which way is the best for you? The Philanthropic Advisors at Empreinte Consulting are well-versed in the various giving vehicles and strategies that you may want to consider. Should you establish a family foundation or a Donor Advised Fund (or both)? A Charitable Remainder Trust or a Charitable Lead Trust? Our Philanthropic Advisors can help you evaluate these options and make smart, informed decisions.

2. We know the causes. In contrast to many financial service firms that offer Donor Advised Funds, Empreinte Consulting is staffed with experts who can provide you with information about the issues and organizations you are interested in supporting. Our experience working for nonprofits large and small provides us with a perspective that can be extremely valuable in your decision making. We will help you develop a philanthropic mission statement and guidelines for your philanthropic decisions. Whether you are passionate about education, healthcare or environmental conservation, our Philanthropic Advisors can help you vet nonprofits and make thoughtful choices about your giving to ensure the greatest impact.

3. We know the community. Our Philanthropic Advisors are connected to the local nonprofit sector. Through one-on-one meetings, donor events, and site visits to nonprofits, we can help you connect with local organizations that are doing innovative work, as well as like-minded donors and community leaders that align with your values. In addition to forging useful social connections, you may also discover opportunities to join more structured networks, such as funder collaboratives that team up to address specific community needs.

4. We are highly skilled goal-setters. Many philanthropists say that writing checks is easy. Does that sound like you? What is harder, they say, is crafting a giving plan that reflects their dreams for achieving positive change in the community. Our Philanthropic Advisors are experienced at helping people articulate their personal values and how those values influence their philanthropic goals. We can help you create a values statement for your giving, set a budget, and choose strategies that are both impactful and personally satisfying.

5. We help families give together. “Giving back” often means more than one donation, one day spent volunteering, or one decision to open a charitable fund. For many people, it’s a journey with many phases that they travel with relatives and loved ones. Empreinte Consulting is highly skilled at facilitating the conversations, which at times may be difficult, that help families come together to reflect, learn, and make decisions as collective philanthropists. This process also helps develop a philanthropic succession plan that ensures your legacy lives on.

6. We help maintain philanthropy as a priority. Between jobs, kids, volunteer obligations, and more, many people find that organizing their charitable contributions is an arduous task. We give you back your time and sanity. Our Philanthropic Advisors can help, making it easy for you to focus on the things you care about most while knowing your philanthropic plan is executed.

Philanthropy is one of the most important investment tools that we have at our disposal. Not only does it transform your life, but it forever changes the lives of others. Don’t feel as though you need to go on this journey alone. Empreinte Consulting is positioned well to guide you through the philanthropic process and provide our expertise to ensure you are fulfilling all your goals. Your investment in us will provide one of the most rewarding returns of your life. We would be honored to speak with you further to discuss ways in which we can partner to enhance our communities.

#helpingthosewhohelpothers

 

Empreinte Consulting, LLC​
585-233-6341
​marc@empreinteconsulting.com

How to Fundraise Effectively

How Can I Fundraise Effectively?

Fundraising is often the foundation for many low- and non-profit organizations. It can be the difference between an entity thriving and folding.  When done inefficiently, fundraising can be an utter waste of time and resources, but when done correctly, it can make all the difference. Here are five steps that you can take to make your fundraising a success. 

1. Set clear expectations. One of the major issues businesses have when it comes to raising money is that not everyone is on the same page regarding expectations. In addition to knowing how much money you wish to raise (the amount you want after expenses are accounted for), it is important that you set up a well researched, thought out strategy in order to achieve your goals. These should be highly focused and take into consideration the organization’s long-term goals. 

2. Budget. In order to keep a good hold on how much your organization is spending, every event necessitates a full budget, itemized by various expenses to be capable of holding the event. This includes things such as space rental, utilities, hired workers, food, and invitations. Your budget should also exist with your fundraising goal in mind. This is so that you end up raising more money than what is necessary to pay for the event. It is also good practice to budget for emergencies or other unforeseen issues. 

3. Clearly define how the funds are to be used. No one wants to donate money when they don’t know where it is going, what it is to be used for, and how that use will help to propel the organization forward in light of its goals. Communicating an internal rate of return (IRR), which demonstrates how a donor’s money is moving the organization towards a sustainable lifespan, is effective for larger donors, who don’t wish to be approached again later on. 

4. Define your target audience. Any plan is inefficient and often ineffective if it does not include a well-defined target audience. It is important to identify which group(s) of people you wish to attend. Your target audience could be anyone and everyone or a specific group of people (e.g. young professionals).

5. Assign the right tasks to the right people. There are several important roles that your team will undertake in order to make the event a success. These include:

  • Askers – These are individuals who understand the skill and timing associated with asking for donations.
  • Connectors – These are the individuals who are well-connected and can help to make valuable introductions.
  • Engagers – These are the relationship builders, who have the ability to communicate well and nurture relationships.
  • Stewards – These are the individuals who interact with, nurture, grow, and promote donor relationships.

It is most important to pair individuals with the positions that play most to their strengths and avoid their weaknesses. 

While fundraising can be time-consuming and at times frustrating, when done correctly it can help to achieve goals and relieve financial pressures that may often arise. To learn how to most efficiently and effectively fundraise, it is a good idea to consider a consultant for your team. These individuals have the knowledge and experience necessary to make a huge impact on your organization, so that your organization can continue to make a huge impact on others.