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Giving

How to Think Differently About End of Year Giving This Year

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How to Think Differently About End of Year Giving This Year

We often talk about how important it is for businesses to step up in response to the current events and issues affecting our world every day. And the unfortunate fact is, there are always ways that businesses can help out or stand up – whether it's a natural disaster, an act of mass violence, or racial injustice in the form of police brutality.  One of those moments is happening right now.

The results of this year’s presidential election are, for many, shocking and devastating. The implications of Donald Trump’s election, along with a Republican Congress and the likely appointment of a conservative Supreme Court Justice, are far-reaching and scary. Many marginalized and minority communities are gearing up to protect their rights as we prepare for a conservative political system that will likely work to take them away.

How to Think Differently About End of Year Giving

As we move forward, it is important for each and every one of us to think about how we can respond in a way that is proactive and impactful.

One of those ways is through end of year giving. Often thought of as an obligation – a requirement that all “good” companies and organizations must fulfill – we challenge businesses to think of it differently this year. Instead of moving forward with your typical year-end giving plan, use it as an opportunity to support any work that protects the rights of vulnerable populations post-election.

If you're on board, here are our thoughts on how to get started:

Think through your values and how they align

 First things first: What does your business care about? Is it diversity? Gender equality? Mental health? Education? The list is endless, but think it through and take time to hone in on what you would call your company’s core values. If you’re looking for some insight on how to get there, this post will help you out. Once you know what those are, it’s time to think about how they align with the work that needs to be done following the presidential election. Do you want to focus on work to fight racism? LGBT rights? Women’s rights? Immigrants’ rights? As you know, a lot of people’s rights and safety are at stake right now, and we need to do something about it – all of us.

Determine where you want to focus your efforts

The answer to this question isn’t simple. Depending on what your business is, it may or may not be clear as to whether you should start with your own community or focus on national or policy-level efforts. Think about it yourself, and take time to talk to your team. Together, you can determine where your focus should be.

After you know which issue area(s) you want to focus on and at what scale, it’s time to do your research. There are so many organizations out there that need support in various capacities, and it’s worth putting in the time to determine which would be an effective partnership. You’ll absolutely want to consider their work, to date, and what they’re trying to do now, but you’ll also want to look at how they measure their impact, who manages the organization, and whether or not there is a need that you and your employees could fulfill. This post has some great questions you can ask yourself to get started in identifying your partner(s).

Decide how you can give most effectively

Next, think about what you have to give. If you’re looking to give money, this is the perfect time to do it. You could also offer to match employee donations to your chosen organization, or simply pledge to give a percentage of your revenue through the end of the year in support of their work. If you’re looking to give your time, you can arrange a company volunteer day, give employees a day off to volunteer, or simply encourage your team to do so on their own time, providing them with information about organizations your company supports.

 

We also very much encourage businesses to spend this time thinking about their internal culture. Support your employees’ mental health, implement policies that allow them stay safe and care for themselves, and, above all else, take measures to ensure that your workplace has zero tolerance for hate or harassment.

Do you know of a business that has responded to this election in a way that’s worth talking about? Tell us about them – we want to spread the word, and encourage others to do the same!

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How You Can End the Year with Impact

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How You Can End the Year with Impact

by Kate Vandeveld

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, it’s time for many of us to break out the holiday music and start prepping for the next round of celebrations. While the holiday season is one of mass consumerism and indulgence – we’re guilty of it too! – it’s also a time when we tend to feel a stronger sense of responsibility to support people and causes we care about. 

The key is channeling these positive feelings into action – and because many of us are also pretty busy around the holidays, this might be easier said than done. But if we each take a few small steps to support others, we can make a huge difference… ending the year positively and starting 2016 off on a strong foot.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Shop responsibly 

We talk about this a lot, and for good reason: making small changes to your purchasing habits can have a hugely positive impact. Being a conscientious consumer is important all year, but especially when we’re spending an average of $805 per person during the holiday season.

Our first suggestion is to shop small business whenever possible. The ripple effect of shopping at small businesses, rather than opting for large corporations, is substantial. It makes an impact on  your local economy, and reaches as far as global supply chains. If you can’t shop small business, there are other steps you can take to ensure that the products you’re buying are ethically and/or sustainably sourced. If you know of any brands, stores, or websites that you’d like to share with the WhyWhisper community, let us know! We want to help spread the word about companies that provide socially and environmentally responsible options.

Support causes you care about 

Never underestimate how much nonprofit organizations need your support. For many, internal capacity is stretched thin, and budgets are notoriously small.  

As you may know, today is Giving Tuesday – perhaps more commonly known as #GivingTuesday. It’s a great opportunity to balance out all of the spending that you’ve done or plan to do this holiday season. Just check out the Giving Tuesday website or #GivingTuesday on Twitter to find out which organizations participated, and what they’re aiming to fund with this year’s campaigns. Even if you only have a couple dollars to spare, this is a time when even the smallest donation can make a huge difference, collectively. The end-of-year funds that these organizations collect will play a big role in determining their scope of work for 2016.

Also, any company or organization that focuses on social impact can greatly benefit from your support via word of mouth. Follow them on their social media platforms, subscribe to their newsletter, and share information about their work and any campaigns or events they promote. Simply acting as an informal ambassador can be an incredible form of support. If you have expertise in a particular area that you think might be helpful to these organizations, or want to use your time to help them further their missions, consider inquiring about volunteering. If you do it, be intentional about it: Make sure you provide concrete ideas for how you can provide support, and only commit to what you’re sure you can contribute, so they are able to properly plan for the year ahead.

Focus on your own community

If you don’t know where to start making a difference this holiday season, look at your own community. Do you live in a place where it gets pretty cold in the winter? Maybe you could organize a cold weather drive at your office, co-working space, or even your neighborhood coffee shop. This way, you can make a large-scale difference for those in need, while providing an opportunity for others to contribute. Even if you can’t organize your own drive, keep your eyes open for those who are collecting various items – from jackets and blankets, to toys, to canned goods – in your community. These types of drives have become ubiquitous in many areas, and for good reason – they’re relatively easy to put together, and their impact is tangible. 

Plan ahead for 2016

Maybe you don’t have a lot of time or resources to contribute at the moment, or you’re not particularly into the holidays, or you’re already taking action? No matter waht, the end of the year is a great time to plan for how you can make a greater impact in the coming year.

How will you be active in contributing to positive change? Will you volunteer? Plan to reduce your environmental footprint? Mentor others who need support?

Think about the resources at your disposal, your personal bandwidth, and how you can realistically use them to support the causes you care about. Then, make concrete and actionable plans. If you want to support a cause, but aren’t sure which organizations are doing the most substantive and sustainable work, do the research now. Once you’ve landed on one (or several!), take the steps that we outlined above to start learning more about them, like following them on social media and subscribing to their newsletter. If you have the bandwidth to lend your time or expertise, reach out to them with a proposal on how you can support them as a volunteer or consultant.

  

What are you doing to end 2015 in an impactful way? If you have a specific way that our community can help out, let us know – we want to do all that we can. Shoot us an email, connect on social – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, or comment below.

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How to Make the Most of #GivingTuesday

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How to Make the Most of #GivingTuesday

by Kate Vandeveld

There’s less than one month until one of the biggest giving days of the year: Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday, which takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is an incredible and growing movement to encourage giving during the holiday season.

Giving Tuesday encourages people to give back to causes they care about at a time when they’re spending a great deal on material items. While 130 million people shopped on Black Friday last year, average spend per person has decreased in recent years. On the flipside, the average gift size on Giving Tuesday last year was $154 per person, for a total of $45.68 million in donations. In contrast, those numbers are on the rise.

Here’s how Giving Tuesday works: Participating organizations build campaigns around the day to raise funds from a broader audience they may not typically reach. All you have to do to participate is register, and then incorporate the #GivingTuesday hashtag into your campaign to reach that broader audience. 

If you haven’t launched your campaign yet, don’t worry – we have some tips that will help you map out your plan and make the most of Giving Tuesday:

Start planning now!

Even though there’s still a little under a month until Giving Tuesday, you’ll want to start planning now. The more you strategize and prepare for your campaign, the better off you’ll be when the big day arrives. Here’s what we suggest:

  • Decide what your campaign will be centered around. Whether you want to focus on a certain aspect of your organization, building up a particular service you provide, or developing something new altogether, you’ll want your campaign to be focused on something that your audience can understand and engage with.
  • Come up with a communication strategy for your campaign. This strategy should be cohesive and encompass all content areas: Your website, blog, email, social – you name it.  This strategy should start several weeks before the campaign, so your community knows you’ll be participating and starts to spread the word and get ready to give themselves.

Set fundraising goals 

Before you launch your content strategy, come up with fundraising goals. You should have one external goal that you’ll share publicly. This goal should be ambitious, but attainable. Then, come up with a stretch goal to keep in mind internally. This goal will motivate your team to keep going after you’ve hit your external goal. And don’t just set goals, map out what these funds will allow you to do. Be as detailed as possible – it will make a big difference to your team and to your donors throughout the campaign.

Beyond these major goals, develop list of services and support that donors’ dollars will go toward. Donors want to know exactly what kind of impact their dollars will make, so the more you break it down, the better. Think through what a $10 donation will allow you to do, a $20 donation, and so forth, and use this in your content strategy.

Get your team on board

This might be the most important element of your Giving Tuesday strategy, or any fundraising strategy at that. Your team knows how the funds raised will impact the individuals and communities you work with, and so they will be your biggest ambassadors in promoting your campaign.  Make sure you share your goals and the impact these funds will have with them, so they know what they’re putting themselves out there for.

Also be sure to provide them with the tools they need to promote your campaign. Share sample social posts and email drafts that they can use as a guide, and give them a list of ways they can reach out to their own networks. Then, on the day of, share and engage with their supportive posts. This will help your campaign build momentum and show that you acknowledge their efforts.

Prepare for execution on Giving Tuesday

Once Giving Tuesday arrives, you need to have a solid plan in place for executing your strategy. You will definitely want to plan to send out a reminder email the morning of, and your social strategy should be ready in advance as well. You’ll need at least one person on board to monitor donations all day. This person or team should be prepared to share posts that you’ve already drafted, as well as share live fundraising updates, and actively engage those who are talking about #GivingTuesday on social.

 

As you’re developing your Giving Tuesday strategy, keep in mind that it doesn’t have to stop there – you can use it as an opportunity to launch a month-long year-end giving campaign!

If you need some inspiration for your #GIvingTuesday campaigns, check these out.

Do you have tips for making the most of Giving Tuesday, or a really cool campaign that you’ve seen? Share with us! Here’s how:

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Year-End Giving: What You Need to Know

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Year-End Giving: What You Need to Know

by Kate Vandeveld

The end of the year is a big time for giving. In fact, the average person makes 24 percent of his or her donations for the year between Thanksgiving and the New Year. There are many reasons why this is the case: the holidays are a time for gratitude and giving back, holiday bonuses put people in a position to be philanthropic, and people look to find tax-deductible donations before the year concludes. 

If you’re thinking about delving (or continuing) into the world of philanthropy as the year ends, we want to make sure that you have all of the information that you need to make smart choices. Here are some tips: 

Follow Your Passion

With so many amazing organizations out there – about 1 million charities in the U.S. alone! – just knowing where to start can be a daunting task. Don’t let it hold you back. Start with yourself. Think about what causes are important to you. Is it education, food security, homelessness, cancer treatment, human rights advocacy? Which causes tug at your heart strings, and make you want to contribute to change? If you choose to go with what you care about, you can (almost) never go wrong.

Do Your Research

Once you know what cause areas you’re most interested in, you need to figure out the specific organizations that are most impactful in doing that work. And to make sure your giving is as efficient, ethical, and effective as possible, you have to do your research. According to Charity Navigator, you’ll want to make sure that you’re giving to an organization that meets the following three criteria: 

  • Fiscal Health: Organizations that are in good shape financially have “greater flexibility and freedom to pursue their charitable mission.”
  • Accountable & Transparent: Accountability ensures that organizations and businesses are following good governance practices, meaning that they are less likely to be doing anything unethical. The more transparent an organization’s practices, the more likely it is that they are using donations in the ways they’ve stipulated. This is not to say that these organizations won’t have overhead (salaries, admin costs, operational expenses) – they will and they should. You can learn more about why it’s important that people who are working to address social problems get paid fairly by checking out this amazing TED Talk by Dan Pallotta. As he says, overhead is not an enemy of the cause – it’s part of it, and is actually a huge contributor to organizational growth and impact.

  • Results: Of course, you’ll want to know how successful the organization has been in accomplishing their mission, and the impact they’ve actually had. 

Luckily, sites like Charity Navigator exist to help you determine which organizations meet those criteria, so you can make smart choices about where you’re giving. We suggest that you start there, and then do your own research too. 

Don’t Forget About Taxes

Taxes aren’t on the forefront of everyone’s minds when thinking about year-end giving. But it’s worth it to know the details about tax-deductible donations when you’re deciding where and when to contribute. Here are the basics:

  • Monetary gifts made to non-profits, mileage used to drive to volunteer at non-profits, and partial-value deductions for in-kind donations (contributions of goods that you’ve donated rather than money) are all deductible expenses. Before you donate, be sure that you’ve chosen qualified charitable organizations, as only those will be deductible.
  • Contributions are deductible in the year they are made, so donations made before the end of 2014 count for 2014 (regardless of whether or not you pay your credit card bill this year). Same goes for checks – they just need to be mailed by December 31, 2014, not necessarily cashed.
  • Any cash deductions, regardless of the amount, must be substantiated by a bank record.

These are the most important rules, but we recommend that you take a moment to familiarize yourself with these year-end giving tips from the IRS so that you can make the most of your final contributions of 2014. 

Stay on Top of Your Investment

After you’ve made your donation, we highly encourage you to follow up with their progress afterward. Not only will this be rewarding for you as a contributor, but by sharing their work with your network, you can also help your organizations gain new visibility. It’s people like you that are keeping many of these organizations afloat, and your contributions and support make a huge difference on the level of impact they are able to make. Charity Navigator recommends that you conduct an annual review of your giving portfolio, looking at the progress reports of each organization you’ve supported, and continue to support those who are using your donations properly and taking concrete steps to contribute to meaningful change.

Giving to organizations and businesses that are creating change in the world is SO important, and we hope that you take some time to think about how you can contribute as 2014 comes to a close.

Which organizations will you be contributing to as the year ends? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or in the comments below. We’ll help give them additional visibility!

Happy holidays to you and your loved ones!

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