How to Start a Charitable-Giving Program at Your Company

How to Start a Charitable-Giving Program at Your Company
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Every company -- regardless of size -- has the ability to give back to its community. This can encompass anything from donating time to an animal shelter to raising thousands of dollars to a school or nearby hospital. Here at Nextiva, we’ve long had a culture of community giving (check out this video of our CEO in the 2014 ALS Ice bucket Challenge), but only recently did we decide to formalize our program.

Related: Businesses Must Make a Stand on Important Social Issues

Last fall, we launched Nextiva Cares, the philanthropic arm of our company, and decided to focus on a different charity every month. In October, we gave money to the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix to help with the construction of its new medical school. Since then, we’ve initiated food drives, toy drives and Thanksgiving turkey donations. Earlier this year, we decided to turn to social media and asked our followers to join in on the fun.

Target: The Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Goal: To raise as much money as possible to help construct its new Pediatric Trauma Center.

We announced the partnership on social media and told followers that for every like, re-tweet and share they offered, we would donate $1 to the cause. We weren’t sure what the response would be, but within minutes, we had 100 shares. Within days, we had 1,000, and within weeks 5,000.

By the end of the month, we presented the hospital with a check for more than $12,800 -- an event documented on the local news. Now, our team is busy crafting another fundraiser for the Nextiva Cares program.

Are you a business owner who wants to give back? Get started with these tips.

1. Pick a charity.

Start local. Are you a pet owner? Consider partnering with an animal shelter. Could your business provide pro bono work (i.e., law, tax or psychology-related)? Reach out to a women’s shelter and offer assistance. Could your local food bank or food pantry use some help?

Make a list and discuss options with your management team. Talk about how you will incorporate your company’s mission, and employee work schedules. Decide if you want to donate time (staffers cutting out of work two hours early every other Friday) or money. If the latter, start brainstorming fund-raising options (I recommend the social media route).

2. Reach out.

Most charities will welcome the help, so reach out and schedule a meeting. Come prepared with ideas, but also leave space to hear how your assistance/funds can go the furthest. Be open to pivoting your plans to suit their needs.

Related: Corporate Social Responsibility Done Right: 5 Ways to Help Your Company Shine

3. Choose a cadence for your program.

Do you want to give back once a year or once a month? Want to focus on one charity per month or one per year? Get realistic with the constraints in time and financials that you'll face with these types of partnerships. It makes sense to start small at first, gauge employee/donor interest and build from there.

4. Don’t expect a return.

The most successful corporate-giving campaigns do not factor in ROI, but instead give back for the greater good. Your company should have the same mission.

Donors will be able to see through business motives (i.e., increasing sales and marketing numbers) when asked for money.

Related: 7 Steps to Up Your Corporate Social Responsibility Game

So, instead, focus on helping others without any benefit to your company, and your authenticity will shine through.