This article originally appeared in the New Hampshire Business Review 2018 Charitable Giving Guide: A guide to regional philanthropic opportunities.
New Hampshire companies have always been a bedrock of support for the state’s crucial nonprofit sector. New Hampshire businesses help feed the hungry, bring arts to our communities, support mentoring for youth, help kids afford college, support visiting nurses who care for the frail — and so much more.
And not only does corporate philanthropy do an amazing amount of good in our communities, studies also show that it makes employees happier, more productive and more fulfilled — and more likely to stick around. Increasingly, employees (especially those of younger generations) are seeking out companies that incorporate philanthropy and community engagement into their culture, and 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.
So how to create a culture of giving in your company? Here are some ideas:
- 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.
- Provide matching gifts to nonprofits. 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! If you do this around the holidays, you might be surprised by how many employees make a gift to a nonprofit their holiday gift to a family member!
- Open a scholarship fund for kids 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. The Granite United Way, United Way of Greater Nashua and United Way of the Greater Seacoast 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.
- 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.
Richard Peck is vice-president for development and philanthropy services at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. The Foundation works with many generous New Hampshire businesses, families and individuals to amplify the power of their giving. To learn more, call Rick at 1-800-464-6641 ext. 265 or email Richard.Peck@nhcf.org.