Six years ago when I started Gracie Communications, one of my first priorities was to establish a giving policy for my business. Supporting causes and worthy nonprofits, especially in my greater Indianapolis community, has always been important to me personally. As a new business owner, I decided to demonstrate my commitment to philanthropy by designating a percentage of my gross earnings to charity. You might be surprised to know that’s not as simple as it sounds. That’s why I’m asking for your help.
Let me start by explaining how I’ve approached my own corporate philanthropy in the past.
A large percentage of my customers are nonprofit organizations. They do extremely good and important work. For several years, I’ve donated back to causes I serve (or donating to a charity of choice for the for-profit clients). While this is a gesture of support that I’m proud of, it is not in keeping with the advice I’ve received from those same clients - larger, targeted donation make a bigger impact for more people.
This year, I’m considering donating one lump sum to an organization like the United Way, Impact 100, or Giving Sum, who have the big picture knowledge of the needs in the community and the collective resources to make really big things happen.
But then again, sometimes it can be very fulfilling to help with the small projects. One of the most memorable donations I ever made personally was $50 to a kindergarten class through DonorsChoose toward supplies for a lesson plan. I helped kids learn. How cool is that? (P.S. In a brilliant PR move, DonorsChoose asks each recipient to send letters of thanks directly to the donors. In my case, the kiddos all sent pictures and letters that reinforced how cool that really is.)
Or perhaps I should follow the lead of several of my local peers and invite proposals for pro bono service?
There are so many needs and many worthwhile ways to give back to the community. Now more than ever, like so many others, I want to make a meaningful contribution that can do the most good (with the smallest amount of administrative overhead).
So I’m turning to you. What do you do to give back? What do you recommend I do? Stick with what I’ve done before? Seek out other worthwhile recipients and methods of creating impact? Is there a charity or organization I should know about?
If you will share your thoughts and ideas, I’ll share how Gracie Communications will be designating its charitable gifts for 2010 by Thanksgiving – and perhaps some ideas on how you can give back as well.