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Opinion: How partnering with a nonprofit can enhance culture

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In business, as in life, winning is important. But winning does not necessarily have to come at another’s expense. In fact, corporate and individual giving in America is witnessing a revolution of sorts. Philanthropic efforts by organizations are galvanizing communities.

When you volunteer your time or donate your money to reputable organizations, you’re making a real difference in the world. You might be helping to clean up your neighborhood or putting food in the bellies of hungry locals, all of which lead to creating a better place for you and your loved ones to live.

A Fidelity Charitable Survey from March 2020 showed that almost 80% of donors planned to continue or increase the size of their gifts even in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. This is providing comfort for so many struggling to battle the impact of the global pandemic.

On top of that, employees at organizations all across the country are more engaged, motivated and have a stronger sense of loyalty based in large part to their organization’s charitable giving approach.

On an individual level, these same employees are seeing dramatic and very positive personal health benefits. According to one study cited by the Cleveland Clinic, people who were 55 and older who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44% less likely to die over a five-year period than those who didn’t volunteer, even accounting for many other factors including age, exercise, general health and negative habits like smoking. This is surely a win-win scenario and not just a bumper sticker. It’s a scenario that could play a role in changing the course of business and personal health in this country.

Corporate philanthropy is nothing new, but the way it is being handled by the most successful organizations has changed. The biggest of these changes is that employers are allowing their employees to determine which charitable organization should be supported. This creates a strong bond and demonstrates that the employees really do have a voice within the organization.

Another major shift is that organizations are aligning themselves with nonprofit organizations that display similar values and a clear purpose that resonates with their employees. This commonality creates a desire within the employee group to truly engage with the chosen entity, almost guaranteeing a positive long-term relationship.

These two changes have had a dramatic impact on both employee engagement and morale. These are areas in which all organizations are looking to improve as they seek the holy grail of a perfect culture.

A recent study by Charity Employee Donor Research found that 71% of surveyed employees report it is imperative or very important to work where culture is supportive of giving and volunteering. In addition, nearly half of nonprofit respondents identified workplace giving as a growth strategy for their organization. They see workplace giving and employee engagement programs as opportunities to promote their mission, programs and services, as well as identify and recruit new volunteers.

Individuals also take many health benefits from philanthropic ventures. The old adage “it is better to give than receive” proves to be incredibly accurate. The Cleveland Clinic suggests there are numerous benefits to giving, including reduced blood pressure and stress, lower levels of depression and greater levels of perceived happiness.

In a 2013 study from Carnegie Mellon University, adults over 50 who volunteered at least 200 hours in the past year, or four hours per week, were 40% less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who didn’t volunteer.

Making the case for philanthropy through nonprofits is not tough. In fact, when traced back to its origins, philanthropy means kindliness, humanity, benevolence and love to mankind. Whether a corporate giant, a business mogul or an average Joe, it should be clear to all that there is a place for charitable giving.

Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” This saying has never resonated so true. As we combat the multitude of issues throughout the world, I challenge you to become your organization’s champion and advocate for philanthropy through your chosen nonprofit. The benefits of these types of initiatives are so substantial that your community, organization and employees will be forever changed for the better.

Cameron Black is an adviser and director of corporate wellness consulting at Ollis/Akers/Arney. He can be reached at 
cameron.black@ollisaa.com.

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