The concept of businesses giving time, talent and financial resources to support organizations and charities has been around from the time businesses and the recipients of the support have existed. Businesses supporting nonprofits and groups is a good idea. It is important to support organizations that assist people and initiatives that help build stronger communities. The organizations come in all shapes and sizes and have diverse missions and ways of carrying out those missions.
The groups include everything from social services to business groups, from emergency assistance to long-term care and everything in between. It is really quite amazing how many organizations exist that actively seek support from the business community.
While each of these organizations serves specific areas of need, over time some have broadened their reach and their service offerings. And as their services expand or increase their need for support in the form of volunteer hours, specific support services and fundraising also increase.
The field of need is crowded and seems to be getting more and more crowded every year. National charities have the resources to reach a larger audience. The smaller regional organizations can and do have the ability and opportunity to connect on a more personal level.
As a business owner, the choices to support and volunteer your valuable time and resources are as varied as the services the organizations provide. Business owners and employees are asked to financially contribute to organizations, serve on committees or even serve a term or two as board members. These are all solid ways to get involved and help to make a real difference in developing a stronger community.
With all of the options, choices and various organizations and groups to get involved with, what is the best way to decide which ones to support?
Perhaps the solution lies in the creation of a community support plan or a community support strategy.
Like a business plan or marketing plan, a community support plan analyzes and outlines a plan on who, what, where, when and how much as it relates to donating your time, your talent and financial resources. Whether considering volunteering to serve on a committee for your local Chamber of Commerce or a board of directors seat on a nonprofit service organization, a well thought out and designed plan can help you with your giving.
Below are a few suggested areas to concentrate on when undertaking the development of a community cupport plan for you and your business.
• Balance community support and business: Before you can successfully spend time outside your business volunteering to strengthen the community you need to be able to make sure your business is strong and successful enough to provide support to others.
• Determine how much of your time, your talent and your resources you can give: This is one of the most important elements to consider when developing your community support plan. Do not over commit the resources or time you have to give. The only way to understand what you can give is to be realistic about how much of your time and dollars you can afford to give. Be sure to capture this information regularly and write it down.
• Choose the right fit for your business: Ask yourself, does the mission of the organization or the population the group serves connect or line up in some way with your company's philosophy or mission or the population you serve? As business owners, an easy fit would be volunteering with a business group like a Chamber of Commerce. And that is a good idea, but in examining your goals and objectives and needs in the region you do business in you may find some additional nonprofits that also meet the criteria for organizations you choose to support. Be sure to keep an updated list of the groups you choose to support.
• Determine goals for the community support plan: You should never enter the business of giving with the thought or expectation that you will or potentially will receive some benefit in return. This is probably one of the biggest missteps when it comes to businesses supporting community organizations. The goals and objectives you should consider as part of the plan should be based on outcomes. For instance, how many hours will be dedicated volunteering, how many dollars are budgeted to give, and what fundraising efforts your business will undertake beyond events or efforts the organization is doing to build resources? Also determine if you are planning on identifying key people within your company to lead the community support activities. Do your best to track and measure the time and effort as well as the impact of the support you are providing if possible.
The needs of the organizations that support people and businesses of our community continue to grow. Creating a plan that will allow your company to become more efficient and effective when it comes to the business of giving is an essential part of running a successful business.
Here’s to creating a stronger community by creating a community support plan for your business.