Giving improves our communities — and makes your company a better place to work
Here are some ideas for starting or building on your philanthropic practice
New Hampshire businesses do a huge amount of good in our communities: sponsoring on-site mentoring programs, feeding neighbors who are hungry, helping young people afford college — and so much more.
Philanthropy has obvious positive effects for our communities — and, studies consistently show, positive effects for businesses too. Corporate giving has been shown to make the employees happier, more productive and more fulfilled — and more likely to stay with that company over the long term.
Increasingly, employees (particularly millennials) are seeking out companies that incorporate philanthropy and community engagement into their culture, and are gravitating to companies that provide benefits like volunteer time and matches for charitable giving. People want to know that they, and the companies they work for, are doing good while doing well.
Nonprofit organizations have responded heroically to the challenges of the past year, continuing to meet their critical missions and help our communities weather the Covid-19 pandemic and accompanying economic fallout. They will be a critical part of our shared recovery from this challenging time.
Here are some ideas for how your business can support New Hampshire nonprofits now, and create a lasting culture of philanthropy that engages your employees and helps make New Hampshire better for everyone who calls New Hampshire home:
Give directly to New Hampshire nonprofits, and provide matching gifts for employees. Company gifts are philanthropic leadership-by-example and any amount of a company match encourages employee giving. Some companies match a percentage, some put a cap on total dollar amount per employee, but all boost generosity and amplify your employees’ giving power.
Offer paid volunteer time. Most people want to volunteer, and volunteering connects them more deeply with their communities. But many people — juggling demands of career, home and family — simply do not have time. Give them, and give New Hampshire communities, the gift of that time. Some companies offer their employees one day a year of paid volunteer time, others more. Some companies organize structured volunteer opportunities (like teams of people serving meals together at a soup kitchen or helping build a community playground). Paid volunteer time encourages employees to roll up their sleeves and give back to their communities — and volunteering together builds relationships and camaraderie at work.
Open a scholarship fund for students in your community. Countless New Hampshire companies have scholarship funds that help kids in their communities afford college. Some are managed by the companies themselves. Others — from Dunkin’ Donuts to St. Mary’s Bank to Portsmouth Regional Hospital and more — are administered through the Charitable Foundation. Thanks to the generosity of New Hampshire individuals, families and businesses, the Foundation’s student aid program is the largest source of publicly available scholarships in the state.
Start a United Way campaign. United Way chapters around the state provide all the tools you need to run an employee campaign in your company. This payroll-deduction plan allows employees to choose where their donations go, and is a time-tested way of incorporating philanthropy into the workplace. United Ways are a critical source of support for New Hampshire nonprofits, distributing $14 million each year to nonprofits around the state. Many businesses also participate in the United Way Day of Caring, which mobilizes teams of volunteers to do projects for nonprofits, from painting and landscaping to sorting food for food pantries.
Give to a Covid-relief fund. United Way chapters around the state have established relief funds specific to the Covid crisis. One hundred percent of donations to these funds go directly to help those in need. And the Charitable Foundation has established the Community Crisis Action Fund to support New Hampshire communities during this challenging time — and as we rebuild from its effects.
Support NH Gives. NH Gives is New Hampshire’s 24-hour, online statewide giving event created by the New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits. Hundreds of nonprofits participate, with matching gifts and prizes throughout the 24-hour period and leaderboards displayed throughout. Promote the event with your employees, sponsor the event or provide a match. Visit nhgives.org to learn more about how to become involved in NH Gives.
Explore opportunities for partnerships with local nonprofits. Maybe your IT department could offer tech expertise to a small nonprofit, or you could organize a company food drive for your local food pantry. One New Hampshire company, CCA Global Partners, has created a partnership with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of New Hampshire. “Little” brothers and sisters come to the Manchester headquarters directly from school every other Monday to spend time with their “bigs” right there at the office, eat a nutritious meal, and not only benefit from time spent with caring adults, but get to see what is possible in the world of work. Opportunities for creative partnerships abound!
Create a philanthropic fund for community nonprofits, and involve employees in giving decisions. As many business owners are aware, requests for donations can seem constant and can be hard to keep organized. Increasingly, companies use donor-advised funds to organize their giving and recommend grants to community nonprofits. Companies create the funds, and then employee committees — from all levels of the organization — get together to discuss requests from nonprofits and recommend grants. Some companies match employee contributions into the company’s giving fund, and invite nonprofits in to tell employees about their work, further connecting the team with the nonprofits that provide critical services and improve the quality of life in our communities.
Lead by example. Like every other part of a company’s culture, great leadership in the area of giving, volunteering and connecting with community have a profound effect on your team — no matter what your business does, or if you have five employees or 500. Examples of generosity inspire.
Laura Rauscher is director of development and philanthropy services at the Foundation, and can be reached at Laura.Rauscher@nhcf.org or 1-800-464-6641, ext. 274.