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Opinion: Corporate giving produces dividends for nonprofits, employees

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Here’s some great news: Philanthropy is growing in the corporate sector.

Although gifts from individuals still outpace those from businesses, many local and national nonprofits have seen an increase in corporate giving year to year. Corporate giving nationally increased by 8 percent in 2017, according to digital marketing firm Nonprofits Source. This is cause for celebration and gratitude in the Ozarks, where more than 2,600 nonprofits in Greene County strive to serve those in need. The increase includes cash and in-kind gifts.

Several nonprofits, such as Convoy of Hope, Ozarks Food Harvest and Habitat for Humanity, receive in-kind donations of food, clothing, building materials and other items for distribution to families and individuals in need. In 2016, Ozarks Food Harvest received over $25 million in grocery donations, while Convoy of Hope received noncash contributions valued at $107 million and, in line with national corporate giving, the organization exceeded $116 million in 2017, according to financial reports.

Oftentimes, gifts-in-kind are overstocked items that businesses no longer want to keep in inventory. Donating excess goods to a nonprofit makes good business sense for the corporation and helps the nonprofit provide more people with the things they need. The nonprofit applies market value to the goods, which helps reduce overhead. Gifts-in-kind are an excellent way for businesses to reduce waste, while helping others.

How do businesses decide who will receive their charitable dollars? Nearly every company requires that the nonprofit is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Many companies want to see evidence that their donations are making an impact.

Many businesses want to help those in their community. One local business I talked with said they focus on supporting nonprofits that serve needs right here in our community, as that aligns with their company mission statement.

Selecting nonprofits with a mission that closely matches the corporate mission reinforces the mission message, while building brand awareness and goodwill in the community.

Often a business solicits suggestions from their clients and employees. Giving a voice to those involved with your company creates a sense of engagement and appreciation. Companies frequently take their giving a step further by developing volunteer opportunities. More than 85 percent of companies think their employees want them to offer volunteer opportunities with nonprofits and some offer paid time off for these activities, according to Nonprofits Source.

Employees who volunteer together have the opportunity to build relationships with co-workers, improve leadership abilities and enhance their skill sets. Giving to the community fosters a spirit of camaraderie, gratitude and generosity.

All companies want to feel appreciated. They want to know they are making a difference in the future. Volunteer events allow them to see the results first-hand. United Way’s annual Day of Caring is a great place to start.

United Way Executive Director Debi Meeds says, “Day of Caring is often their first exposure to volunteering. However, many companies continue to volunteer based on this experience.”

If you would like to volunteer more frequently, go to VolunteerOzarks.com.

Volunteering to help others increases feelings of gratefulness and connects you to people outside your circle of friends and colleagues.

Studies show that people who practice positivity and gratitude are happier and healthier. They reach more of their goals, are more collaborative and live longer. We develop a grateful attitude by increasing the amount of time we spend thinking about the things and people we are thankful for and performing acts of gratitude, which naturally leads to thinking about others. We experience better relationships when we live gratefully.

Find a way for your business to engage with nonprofits and see the level of gratitude rise among employees. Gratitude is good for business, energizing for employees and empowering for the Ozarks.

LaDonna Greiner is the author of the 21 Reasons to Say Thank You series, a photographer and a motivational speaker with a focus on gratitude. She serves as national chair of the Association of Women in Communication. She can be reached at ladonna.g@21reasons.life.

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