As a challenging year comes to an end, despite the many hardships that affect us all, people are still looking at ways they can donate time and money to help those in even greater need.
The pandemic has presented many new difficulties for both those on the giving and receiving end. Charities are suffering from the inability to hold large fundraising events. At the same time, millions of people are struggling with the costs of healthcare, balancing work and job seeking with childcare needs, mental health issues, and so much more.
If ever there was a need for goodwill, it’s now.
Many companies, of course, want to give, but corporate philanthropy can be complex to navigate. The people tasked with corporate giving initiatives within their organizations often struggle with wanting to help both people and creating sustainable solutions for their firms. Taking a fresh look at your philanthropic philosophy with a “people/community first” lens can help you determine where and how your efforts can make the most impact, and inform a program that will guide philanthropic efforts for years to come. Here are a few ways to do that:
When selecting a philanthropic initiative, it’s important not to worry about the PR or marketing value it might bring to the company. This could erode the ultimate impact it has on the people who really need it. Instead, think about the needs that are closest to the hearts of those within your organization, and organizations that may be aligned with your company’s mission.
One effective way to encourage authentic giving is to offer an employee match program, in which the company matches employee donations. This extends your giving program down to the individual level, inspiring employee engagement and meaningful charitable actions across a range of initiatives and locales, which may empower your company to help even more.
While the holiday season may seem like the perfect time to give, not only could end of year donations come off as disingenuous--i.e., done for tax-benefit purposes--it also fails to support year-round human needs.
Take this time to plan ahead instead. If you’re only allocating donations in December, one great option is to donate to a donor-advised fund. This allows you to contribute money in a way that time stamps the moment you donated, but the money can still sit there, growing tax-free, until you decide where to direct it. This allows you to continue making an impact throughout the year and provide timely relief when charities have the greatest need.
When donating to an organization, you’ll want to make sure your money is going where there’s a genuine need. Consider the size of your annual charitable fund relative to the needs of international, national, and local organizations. Where can you have the greatest impact? Where can your donation further the mission of your company and resonate with employees? Once you’ve selected a charity you want to work with, talk to the organization’s executives about where your donation is needed most. Look for opportunities to establish long relationships with organizations you trust instead of one-time donations to charities you don’t know that well. Charity Watch is a great resource that can tell you the amount a charity spends on programs relative to overhead. This ensures the bulk of your dollars are going straight to the cause.
True heartfelt corporate giving can benefit your company in both tangible and intangible ways. You can inspire a more charitable mindset within your employees and reinforce or further the mission of your firm. It can also build relationships between leaders at your company with leaders in your community, creating opportunities for collaboration and giving visibility to important public works. Not only does this instill a feeling of purpose, more consistency in giving, and greater ongoing support for the causes you care about, it will bring your teams--and your community--closer together.
And if that isn’t enough, knowing your company is engaged in genuine, charitable giving will also make your holidays that much brighter.
Authored by AssetMark EVP and CFO Gary Zyla
AssetMark is a leading provider of extensive wealth management and technology solutions that help financial advisors meet the ever-changing needs of their clients and businesses.
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