I don’t know about you, but I like to feel good about the business I do and the impact we have in “making our mark” in business. There’s a lot of conversation lately about companies doing good by giving back. At Connected Women of Influence we have been strong advocates of giving back to worthy causes that support women so I thought I’d share a few tips and suggestions on what we’ve learned in developing a “give back” focus in business.
Do Your Due Diligence on the Nonprofit of Choice: While this sounds like common sense, I have learned, unfortunately, that nonprofits may not be cloaked the same. In the past, we gave support to a nonprofit and found out later there was a peppered past with the nonprofit and their track record of how they used donated funds. The lesson I learned was to do a better job in checking out the nonprofit in more detail than their listed board of directors and what’s posted on the web site. Check out their reputation from past fundraising and see what their track record is in partnerships, joint events and supported fundraising efforts.
Choose a Nonprofit that Fits Your Mission in Business: While you might be really, really excited about a nonprofit that has a great reputation in the community as the “go-to” nonprofit, give some thought or reason to selecting a nonprofit that fits the mission and purpose of your company and products or services. For us, our focus is always in finding a woman-centered nonprofit that supports other women. Your organization might like companies that are focused on saving the environment or assisting children. Whatever the choice is, have an application and selection process and always make sure you have a strategy and purpose to the nonprofit you select. It should be a good fit and make sense to you and your company’s mission and purpose.
Create Clear Performance Expectations: Again, through past experiences we have learned to create a document of what is expected between us and the nonprofit. While this might sound silly to create something in writing when you’re trying to do good and give back, I’ve learned the hard way that unless you specify clearly what you expect the nonprofit to do from your efforts to support them, you might be left with disappointment. All that’s needed is to make a list of clear expectations of what you are going to do and when you’re going to do it. In addition, it’s important to list what your expectations are from the nonprofit. Are you asking to have some fan-fare done at the time of your contribution? Are you looking for some publicity from the donated funds? Most nonprofits want to execute, but I’ve experienced some disappointment after the fact when you’ve contributed funds and then start asking for support. Make a list and focus on what you will do and what the nonprofit will do. This will save you many, many headaches.
Offer Continuing Support for a Period of Time: I had someone advise me quite a few years ago that support to a nonprofit would be much more grand if you supported them for a period of time as opposed to once a year or one time. This has been one of the best pieces of advice I ever received. We have had such a great experience with our chosen nonprofit, The YWCA of San Diego, by listening to this advice. When we began our journey in 2011, we sat down with Heather Finlay, the CEO of The YWCA of San Diego, and made a list of what they needed and how we could support them. Since 2011, we have continued to look for creative ways to give back and support them as much as possible in our association. In return, they have been gracious and thoughtful…..and collaborative in finding ways to bring value to our association. It’s been a phenomenal win-win.
I hope you’ll consider making “doing good” a good business strategy……..as doing good IS good business!
The YWCA of San Diego helps women break the cycle of domestic violence and homelessness and achieve self-sufficiency. I have personally met with some of the women of the YWCA and have been touched, humbled and inspired upon hearing their life experiences and their continued journey to self-sufficiency.
About Your Columnist
As the CEO and Co-Founder of Connected Women of Influence, Michelle Bergquist is a passionate advocate for women in business. At Connected Women of Influence, we believe that more women need to lead in business and everything we do is center-focused on designing platforms, programs, connections and collaborative opportunities for b2b women to prosper, succeed and lead the way in business today!