Focusing your Business Giving Creates Long Term Impact

By: Maggie F. Keenan, Ed.D.

The most challenging issue that I see with small businesses or large corporations is figuring out how to focus their giving. Yet, it is one of the first steps in creating a strategic philanthropy program. Why does a company, and it doesn't matter if it is a small business of less than five people or a large corporation of five thousand people, need to focus their giving? The bottom line is it must make strategic sense and support the business's strategic objectives, values and goals.

Focused giving applies to several areas for a company. First and foremost, as a business owner, your giving must align with your business values and long term interests. Once that is determined, you can then focus on local communities or other geographic areas where your business has a presence. You can also focus on causes (broader issues) that appeals to both the business interests, employee interests and customers. It's about making the connection with the communities you serve.

There are benefits to focusing giving programs. First, giving is a relationship for both businesses and nonprofits. Nonprofit success with raising funds is dependent upon building and cultivating those relationships with donors and their goal is to continually move the donor up the giving-ladder. Nonprofits are as much interested in your company giving as they are in cultivating a long term relationship. They want to connect with you. They want to keep you interested in their cause and develop long standing relationships which enables them on many levels to succeed in fulfilling their mission.

Businesses that develop a focused giving program tend to make a long term impact. This is what is meant by making a difference. And this simply doesn't happen when a company is giving smaller dollar donations all across the board. There are benefits for companies that focus their giving. Employee volunteerism can grow and become a valued company-wide program. The success of donation and sponsorship dollars can be monitored with less administrative hassle. And when monies and efforts find a way to connect, your company image and goodwill can flourish and, that's a good thing.

? 2008. Maggie F. Keenan, Ed.D. All rights reserved.

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