Give Well: The business of doing good

Dawn Franks, CEO of Your Philanthropy offers high-touch advising services to families, businesses and foundations to enhance the giving experience and maximize impact. She writes a blog, the YP Journal, at www.your-philanthropy.com. Comments and questions are welcome. Send to info@your-philanthropy.com.

What do Newman's Own, Target and locally owned Mentoring Minds have in common?

Newman's Own products, produced by the company founded by actor Paul Newman, can be found on the shelves of local grocery stores.

Besides a 52-year acting career, including one Acad-emy and six Golden Globe Awards, he founded New-man's Own, a boutique food company dedicated to giving 100 percent of profits back to charity. According to the website, the company has given more than $400 million to charity. He also founded the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, a coalition of CEOs, in 1999. In Newman's own words, "I helped to start CECP with the belief that corporations could be a force for good in society."

The "Expect More. Pay Less" Target is No. 78 among the world's most powerful brands, according to Forbes. They have a long-standing tradition of giving 5 percent of profit to communities, including a commitment to give $1 billion for education by the end of 2015. Bullseye, their longtime mascot bull terrier, frequently shows up at charity events.

Locally, Mentoring Minds, a company founded by educator Michael Lujan with wife, Lisa, was a response to an educational market not effectively meeting students' and teachers' needs. Today, they are dedicated to leading a company that produces transformative educational materials that develop critical thinking for life. In addition, they provide training seminars and customized solutions through live coaching.

But there is more to the Mentoring Minds story. After careful study, they created a corporate giving program called MindShare. An em-ployee-led committee oversees a grant application process that encourages employees to recommend nonprofits they believe would benefit from a Mind-Share grant. Considerable thought and planning went into creating a process that is directly connected to their core mission.

According to a Sept. 5, 2013, article in the Tyler Morning Telegraph, "Employee-nominated organizations are evaluated by the employee-based MindSHARE committee on several factors such as employee involvement and organizational reach. MindSHARE will continue this tradition of selecting and awarding funds to nonprofit organizations quarterly up to $20,000 a year."

Mentoring Minds employees also are known all over Tyler for their frequent volunteer activities, both individually volunteering or showing up in force to help a project along.

By now you know what these three companies have in common. The philanthropic spirit runs deep into their business core. They are as much about business as they are about making a difference in the world.

A business of any size can join the growing list of companies that recognize the old rules no longer apply. It isn't enough to provide value to society by operating efficiently, providing employment, goods and services. It is clear to business today that companies must generously and consistently support the communities in which they operate.

I have worked with a number of local companies creating or re-inventing their own philanthropic identities. A company's philanthropy can precede them in the marketplace in ways that no amount of advertising will ever do.

Research by the Nielson Global Survey indicates we are willing to pay extra for products and services produced by companies committed to positive impact. The percentage increases every year. Research also suggests workplace morale improves when businesses encourage employees to participate in the community. Making it a double win, employees involved in the community increase your business' presence.

Local companies are finding ways to be philanthropic by being involved in volunteer activities like the United Way Day of Caring or a Habitat for Humanity house build. Some use a percentage of corporate profits to match employee gifts.

Others involve their employees in picking nonprofits to support through employee committees. Some businesses sponsor fundraising activities in various ways.

One small company with five employees developed a giving mission after completing a Giving Fingerprints exercise. Now they focus their giving in areas they all care about.

It isn't difficult to cultivate the philanthropic spirit in your company. It is a commitment. If you haven't had a discussion with employees about company giving, start now. Answer the question of Why.

Author Simon Sinek says, "People don't buy or give to WHAT you do or HOW you do it, they buy or give to WHY you do it."

 

Dawn Franks, CEO of Your Philanthropy offers high-touch advising services to families, businesses and foundations to enhance the giving experience and maximize impact. She writes a blog, the YP Journal, at www.your-philanthropy.com. Comments and questions are welcome. Send to info@your-philanthropy.com.

 
 

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