Take care of yourself so you can TCB, baby…

Here’s the real talk about creating compensation packages for your killer team of marketing and fundraising professionals when you’re a small business:

REALITY #1 — We are a small business. So we need to find creative ways to add value for the people we hire because there are a lot of ways we can’t compete with corporate gigs.

REALITY #2 — We are a small business. This is radical and gives us the freedom to let our freak flags fly in a lot of ways corporate gigs cannot.

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With all the talk of wellness and self-care in the world—and especially among the demographic our pool of hires tends to come from—we saw an opportunity to create some very unique, personalized packages without a lot of hassle on our end.

Lo, the Wellness Stipend was born.

We already decided a few years back to make gym memberships available to all full-time employees. But…(there’s always a “but”)

There are people on our team who are not said gym adjacent in any way. Also, there are people who want to involve their partners and kids in their recreation and exercise. And what about the people who already belong to gyms they love?

The Wellness Stipend answers all those questions.

Now we have a set amount of annual compensation available for each full-time employee to use as they choose. It’s been very interesting to see how positively it’s been received—and how creatively our team uses it.

One woman on our team is using it toward race fees for the marathon she’s training for. Another put it toward a family membership at a community center. Zumba. Alternative therapies. The wellness world is your oyster with this plan.

We pride ourselves on saying there is no one size fits all solution for our clients. It thrills me to be able to say we can do that same thing for the amazing team behind that promise.

6 Secrets to Unlocking Corporate Philanthropy—Part II

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This week, we continue with three more priceless secrets from our intrepid guest blogger, Becky Schieber. Becky is a freelance writer, editor and communication strategist. She spent more than a decade in the trenches of the country’s biggest newsrooms as a TV news producer before building a career in healthcare fundraising and corporate social responsibility. Here, she lets you in on the most important things she learned from running a global corporate foundation that she wishes she’d known when she was soliciting major gifts.


Secret 4: Tchotchkes

Plaques, trophies, certificates…we get a lot of those. During my time running a corporate foundation, nothing was lonelier than the box of tchotchkes I stowed under my desk because our designated corporate social responsibility showcase area was already chock-full.

We know you want to express your appreciation for our gifts, but why not invest the money you’ve allocated for stewardship back into your mission and instead send a heartfelt, handwritten thank you note?

Some of my favorite tokens of appreciation were letters from students who received our scholarships, because I could easily share these companywide – much more impactful than a dust-gathering plaque on a corner shelf!

Secret 5: Your Mission is Awesome, But…

 If your mission wasn’t awesome, you wouldn’t be working for the organization. Kudos to you for trying to make the world a better place! But even though your mission may be 100% aligned with my corporate philanthropic strategy, that’s not my only consideration.

Here’s an example: I once had a very persistent fundraiser approach me multiple times about a sponsorship for a great event that was right up our alley. The problem? Our chief competitor was the title sponsor.

Much as we like to think the mission matters more than anything else, it’s not the only factor. Be mindful of industry exclusivity concerns when preparing your sponsorship pitches.


Secret 6: No Leapfrog

This is a big one. Please, please don’t leapfrog your corporate foundation contact. I know it’s tempting to go straight to the decision-makers in the C suite, especially if your board is well-connected. In some cases, this is absolutely appropriate, but often that C-level leader doesn’t have eyes on the nuts and bolts of the corporate foundation budget and priorities.

 If your C-level contact directs you to her community relations or corporate foundation director, then that’s the person you need to work with. Repeated overtures to the CEO often result in him forwarding your email to someone like me and can be annoying to us both.

I once worked with a dean at a major university who was quite fond of doing this, and the resulting confusion about who was talking to whom and what had and had not been done was disastrous and frustrating all around. Nobody likes to be caught off guard. C-level leaders are busy running companies, and while many of them do carve out time for community involvement, they also hire people to handle the details for a reason. Be respectful of their time and the companies’ processes.

There’s a lot of opportunity with corporate philanthropy. Those who are willing to invest the time to build relationships, listen and learn will be successful in the long run.


6 Secrets to Unlocking Corporate Philanthropy—Part

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Becky Schieber is a freelance writer, editor and communication strategist. She spent more than a decade in the trenches of the country’s biggest newsrooms as a TV news producer before building a career in healthcare fundraising and corporate social responsibility. Here, she lets you in on the most important things she learned from running a global corporate foundation that she wishes she’d known when she was soliciting major gifts.

Secret 1: Get to Know What You Don’t Know

 Companies, especially big ones, have layers. And layers equal hurdles, not only for you, but for your internal contact who can help (or hurt) your chances of success. Whether it’s getting requests for money approved, finding people to fill tables at a gala or completing the 72 forms necessary to request the appropriate logo for your program adcorporate philanthropy professionals often have to navigate a maze of processes to get even the simplest things done.

That’s not always easy to understand from your perch at a lean and nimble nonprofit…

But if you take the time to understand the barriers your liaison has in her way you can hone your strategy and communications to make your working relationship as seamless as possible.

 Understanding builds trust, which can only help to grow the relationship between your organizations.

Secret 2: Play the Long Game

There’s a reason I named my bi-monthly coffee klatch with my corporate foundation peers “The Naysayers Club.” We all had to say no, and we did it all the time. At times it feels like the opposite of why any of us got into philanthropy in the first place. But with limited budgets, increasingly focused giving strategies and thousands of requests, it’s simply the reality of the job. It’s not fun.  

That’s why we really appreciate those fundraisers who accept a declination graciously and seek to understand the reason behind it.

It’s also okay for you to ask if the answer is “no,” vs. “not this year.” Budgets change, philanthropic priorities shift, and you never know when your organization might be the perfect fit for the company that turned you down five years ago.

I know playing the long game is tough for the many nonprofits who operate with shoestring staffs and rely on the constant churn of events to keep the lights on, but preserving the relationship over the long term can eventually pay off.

Secret 3: Consistency is Key

Let’s face it: from the outside looking in, the nonprofit world can sometimes feel like a revolving door of well-meaning but short-lived talent. And in an industry whose success depends on building relationships, consistency is absolutely critical. Foundation directors value continuity of communication, not only because it’s more efficient, but it also adds to your organization’s reputation.

When three different development directors from an organization called on me in less than three years’ time, I seriously questioned why there was so much turnover and wondered if the organization may not be a great investment for us.

When possible, it’s wise for the executive director or a key board member to maintain some sort of corporate relationship to cut down on the negative perception that comes with frequent turnover.

Also important here is to learn what communication style your corporate liaison prefers. Is it email or text? Not sure? If she responds to your voicemails via email most of the time, she’s telling you she’s not a phone person. (It’s 2019 – is anyone a phone person anymore?!)

Stay tuned for Part II…coming next week.