Authors: Alec Gorynski, Vice President of Community Development and Corporate Giving & Kevin Thompson, Vice President, Commercial Banking
Corporate giving is on the rise, and whether a business is starting a corporate giving strategy due to consumer and employee demand, or they are motivated by the act of giving or both, our communities benefit from the generosity.
At First National Bank of Omaha, we’re committed to helping our communities remain strong and successful. As part of this commitment, we operate under the vision of successful communities in all the places we call home. However, simply saying we have a commitment isn’t enough. We set concrete goals to reach this vision and focus our community reinvestments with organizations who are working to improve the interconnected assets of a successful community.
Corporate philanthropy isn’t a new trend but more and more companies are now seeing the value of giving back to the communities they serve. According to the Giving in Numbers 2018 Edition, companies have continued to increase their societal contributions. The corporate sector has increased median total giving by 15 percent compared to three years ago.
Philanthropy is not only a selfless gesture but a tool to realize a goal. Companies can align their giving efforts to achieve social benefits as well as business objectives. To do this successfully, it’s important that organizations have a clear giving strategy. In this article, we’ll discuss some tips on how your business can successfully create a corporate giving strategy to meet your goals.
Set Your Giving Budget
It may seem like an obvious first step but setting an annual budget for giving is a good place to start. You can set an annual giving budget as well as a giving goal for the future. It’s important to remember that employee volunteer hours should be included as part of this budget. For example, in 2016 First National Bank of Omaha set a goal to reinvest $85 million and 100,000 volunteer hours by 2020. Or, you may set a goal to have a certain percentage of your employee base volunteer their time throughout the year.
Having a Shared Value Focus
There are so many wonderful organizations serving great causes that it can be difficult to determine which organizations you want to give to, which is why having a giving focus and using a shared value approach is key. A good way to determine your focus is to look at what relates to your organization. For example, a food manufacturer may centralize its giving efforts around reducing hunger, increasing access to healthy foods or by supporting local farmers and ranchers. Or, a health insurance company may prioritize its giving efforts around organizations and initiatives that improve health outcomes. This approach can be applied to organizations of all sizes.
Follow Through on Your Strategy
As we mentioned, there are several causes worthy of support and it can be difficult to say no to them, especially if your company has a history of providing broad community support. By having a clear shared value strategy, you can create a decision process for grant and donation requests that aligns with your strategy and goals. By communicating your vision within your company and your community, people will have a better understanding of the types of causes your company will support.
Remember, this includes volunteer hours as well. If your company encourages employee volunteerism, it’s recommended to align employee volunteer opportunities with the organizations you plan to support.
Employees are a critical component of your corporate giving strategy. From volunteering with nonprofits to having helped define the strategy, employee engagement is another key to success. Members from all levels of your organization should be invested in your philanthropic goals. For example, the committee that leads your company’s giving strategy should include employees who are active in the community, not just the senior leaders at your organization. If your company serves multiple geographic areas, it’s also encouraged to work with employees who live, work and play in those communities to implement your giving strategy in that region. They will have a more intimate understanding of the needs in each of those communities so it makes sense to have them engaged in the strategy.
Set Goals and Track Your Progress
In order to understand if your community giving strategy is moving the needle, so to speak, you must set community goals and track your progress against those goals. For example, it may be your organization’s goal to feed 1,000 meals to low-income elementary school students during the course of the year. Be sure that your community partner understands this goal and can provide you with the necessary statistics at the end of each year. Or maybe you want to help make 50 affordable housing units available next year. Work with the nonprofit partners in your area to ensure this is a realistic goal and work together on a plan to achieve it.
Build Relationships with Nonprofits in Your Community
A corporate giving strategy wouldn’t be possible without the work of nonprofit partners. Once you’ve developed your giving strategy, identify which nonprofits in your community align with your mission. By targeting which organizations you will partner with and building strong relationships with those partners, it will be easier to fulfill your mission and therefore make the impact in the community you’re looking to see.
About First in the Community
At First National Bank of Omaha, we are committed to helping our communities remain strong and successful. Not only is it the right thing to do, but our business of taking deposits and making loans places us in a unique position to positively impact a community at every level. First in the Community is an enterprise-wide strategy for First National Bank of Omaha's community reinvestment work. It includes a single community vision, set of community priorities and objectives, and a standard set of community investment tools.
Community Vision & Goals
Our vision is to have successful communities in all the places we operate. That’s why we made a commitment in 2016 to reinvest $85 million and 100,000 volunteer hours by 2020 to help our community partners achieve the following goals:
- 5,000 affordable homes will be constructed, rehabilitated or financed
- 25,000 jobs will be created or retained
- 50,000 people will become closer to financial wellness
- 1,000 community events will take place
View our progress in our Impact Report.
About the Authors
Alec Gorynski serves as the Vice President of Community Development and Corporate Philanthropy for First National Bank of Omaha and President of the First National Community Development Corporation. In his role, he heads the bank’s efforts to be an agent of positive change in its footprint communities through philanthropy, investing, leadership, and the use of other bank tools across its seven-state footprint.
Kevin Thompson leads a team of experienced Relationship Managers to meet the needs of business clients from numerous industries. Kevin and his team work closely with customers to achieve their hopes and aspirations, applying banking solutions that help them meet their goals. Kevin is also very active in his community and chairs the Omaha Community Investment Committee as part of First National Bank of Omaha's First in the Community initiative. This committee reviews, evaluates and decides on local donation opportunities.