Nonprofits Must Leverage Corporate Need for Employee Engagement

Businesses are beating prior forecasts and over half in the Standard & Poor 500 have registered at least a 6.7% growth, says a recent article in USA Today. How does this impact nonprofits?

This fast pace of growth is creating greater nonprofit-business partnerships. In at least two nonprofit business forums I attended recently, community relations managers have courted nonprofits to offer greater engagement opportunities for their employees.

The days of checkbook philanthropy are over. Employees want to get plugged in with charities that matter, that really do good. Human resources divisions in companies are also seeking greater community engagement programs for employees.

According to Renee Levin, Community Engagement Manager at Intel Corporation, “a logo on the wall is not what’s needed. We like to have our employees present.” Levin urged nonprofits to help her figure out how she could effectively log the hours of Intel employees volunteering at different charities. This shows a tactical shift in corporations wanting to see greater community engagement among their employees. Intel gives $10 per hour to the charity where the employee volunteers but not many employees are logging their hours.

At Arizona Public Services (APS), employee volunteerism takes center stage in their relationship with non-profits. With 30% of their staff eligible for retirement, community relations is working with HR to align their priorities so that they can give new opportunities for non-profits for board placement. According to Julie Coleman, Corporate Giving & APS Foundation Leader, non-profits should look at “many touch points,” when they discuss funding opportunities with businesses.

At Petsmart Charities, Joy Chesbrough, Director of Philanthropy wants to work with nonprofits that “understand the business goals of an organization.” Their focus is now on sustainability, diversity and inclusion and pet-parent bonding.

The New Buzzwords in Philanthropy

The new buzzwords in philanthropy are: austerity, lean, collaboration, best practices, mergers, partnerships. And, the most used word? Creativity.

A panel of business and nonprofit leaders gave out these buzzwords at a Nonprofit Business Summit hosted by the Phoenix Business Journal earlier today. They repeated creativity often that it meant how you can adapt, be flexible and cut costs.

Businesses warned about the death of checkbook philanthropy as they face increasing pressure from employee groups to provide meaningful community engagement opportunities. The reality is, businesses need  nonprofits more than ever. For example, St. Vincent de Paul now provides a Saturday family volunteer opportunity for US Airways  employees so that they can bring in their family to volunteer at the nonprofits facilities. This Saturday morning volunteer encounter is now a national model of meaningful nonprofit-business partnerships.

More employees want to get a clear understanding about the mission of  nonprofit organizations before  directing their funds. This is forcing community relations managers to get a better grasp of the nonprofit world.

In terms of creativity, a recent project involved Cox Communications partnering with Barrett Jackson to auction a car. The proceeds then went to Make a Wish Foundation. This is creative philanthropy in action as multiple entities join together to help a worthy cause. With their charitable budget staying flat for the last decade, the company has used creative ways to generate larger funding for Cox Charities.