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How To Become a Philanthropist: 7 Steps To Change the World

July 5, 2022
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If you’re wondering how to become a philanthropist, it’s easier than you think. Anyone can do it and, contrary to popular belief, it’s not just for the wealthy. Make no mistake about it: Humans are social creatures. We love to help one another. That’s why philanthropy is so popular. It’s a feel-good activity that improves our world. And the benefits far outweigh the costs. Before you start contributing to worthy causes, however, it helps to understand the options available to you. You’ll want to make good decisions so that you maximize the impact you want to make in the world. No worries, either, about how much — or how little — money you have. All you need is a vision and a plan.

What Is Philanthropy?

A philanthropist is an entity, either a person or a corporation, that provides time, money, or resources — and perhaps all three — to people or nonprofits in need of assistance. The overarching goal is to make lives better for others (or the world we inhabit). Philanthropy is often associated with large sums of money and wealthy people. But, as mentioned, philanthropists can be any person or entity. Even a tiny business can be philanthropic.Some philanthropists rise to rockstar status and are known for their generosity. For example, Warren Buffett, Melinda Gates and Oprah Winfrey are just a few among the mega-rich who have given large sums and had an impact on important social and environmental issues. But you don’t have to be a millionaire, and indeed - many nonprofits are supported by hundreds of thousands of people who give modestly. Even a relatively small donation - alongside hundreds of others who also are giving a small amount - can add up to hugely impactful levels of support for nonprofits working to support communities in need.

What Philanthropy Looks Like

Philanthropy can take a number of forms. These include, for example:Money: Donations may be one time only or on a regular basis. Philanthropists may also bequest money after death or establish a trust.Time: Those who don’t have money to donate or prefer to contribute in other ways can donate time and labor. Examples include volunteering at a homeless shelter or tutoring students after school. As with monetary donations, these can be one-time, yearly or more frequent contributions. Many small, community-based nonprofits are dependent upon the generosity of their volunteers’ time to extend the impact of their mission.Resources: These donations, known often as “in-kind,” include furniture, vehicles, food, clothing, toys, computers, etc.

Benefits of Changing the World With Philanthropy

It may seem to be a cliche, but the benefits of philanthropy are immeasurable for those donating time, money or other resources:

  • Lends perspective: Philanthropy heightens your sense of connectivity to the world and the things that really matter.
  • Better health: Your mental health and physical wellbeing both improve when you give back.
  • Lower stress levels: Volunteering has been proven to lower stress and enhance feelings of well-being by releasing dopamine.
  • Tax reductions: Donations may be written off on personal taxes.
  • Social interaction: Volunteering can offer opportunities to network and meet others who are committed to similar causes, and connections can be formed among a group of donors providing financial support.
  • Improved skill set: As a volunteer or a donor who has researched the causes that nonprofits are working on, you will learn new skills, both hard and soft, and improve your leadership acumen.

How To Become a Philanthropist

As with any good strategy, you’ll need a road map to get to your final destination. Follow these seven steps to become a philanthropist:

1. Clarify Your Goals

Before you decide where to put your time and effort, you’ll need to understand what’s most important to you. What do you value? Where can you make a difference? What would feel good to do? Include your personal or professional goals such as expanding your network. Whether it’s working for climate change or helping your community’s underserved population get the resources they lack, make sure that you feel passionate about the issue.

2. Determine Your Commitment

Before you decide what to do, you need to determine how to do it. Do you want to give money or time? If it’s money, what can you afford? If you plan to volunteer, how much time do you have? When can you volunteer?

3. Choose Your Organization

Once you know the type of commitment you can make, research and vet organizations. Do they align with your mission and values? Where do they work? If you know you want to focus on homelessness in your community, determine if the organization is serving the homeless population in your city. Most organizations share information about their programs, their leadership and how they use their charitable donations. If you have questions, ask. The organization should be transparent and credible.

4. Check With Your Company

Before you completely nail down a target nonprofit, check out the support your company may offer – whether that be a match or volunteer opportunities.

5. Establish a Plan

Based on the causes you care about, the resources you want to commit to and the organizations you want to support, determine your giving cadence. For many, setting up recurring, monthly donations means you can ‘set it and forget it.’ But you might also want to consider setting aside some funds for donating during an emergency - whether it's a hurricane on the Gulf Coast, the war in Ukraine, or a social justice issue.

6. Stay Engaged and Curious

Find your community, and learn about other organizations that are doing important work in support of the causes you care about. You might find that in order to tackle an issue that you’re passionate about, multiple organizations are needed to make change. You can create social connections in-person or online to discover more organizations.

7. Trumpet the Cause

Now that you’re a practicing philanthropist, tell others about the organizations you support and why. They may be inspired to help or to find a cause of their own.

Have Fun With It!

Philanthropy is something anyone can do. Whether you donate time or money, it offers great benefits and improves the lives of others. Find the organization or cause you want to support and go for it. It’s a fun and easy way to give back to the community and expand your horizons.If you would like to know more about a corporate giving program, contact Groundswell. We can help turn philanthropic giving into an essential employee benefit.

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Unlocking Philanthropy: A Ready-to-Use Corporate Giving Policy for Modern Businesses

Sample Corporate Giving Policy You Can Use Today

In today’s socially conscious environment, more companies than ever are recognizing the value of corporate philanthropy. Not only can a robust giving policy boost a brand’s image and reputation, but it can also play a pivotal role in community development and global betterment. If your company is considering the establishment of a formal corporate giving policy or refining its existing strategy, this sample policy might be the perfect starting point for you.

Download Sample Policy

Pillars of a Strong Corporate Giving Policy

Corporate giving programs range from employer donation matching programs to full blown corporate social responsibility programs with grantmaking and volunteerism.  Many companies find somewhere in the middle that aligns with their size, budget, geographic presence and most importantly company values and commitment to diversity and inclusion. But what truly makes a corporate giving policy stand out? Let’s delve into the key features, from donation matching to the strategic use of platforms like Groundswell.

1. Donation Matching: Doubling the Impact

One of the most effective tools in a giving policy is donation matching. This is where companies match employee donations to eligible non-profits, effectively doubling the contribution. Such programs not only amplify the impact but also motivate employees to participate, knowing their chosen cause will receive twice the support.

2. Charitable Stipends: Encouraging Employee Choice

Charitable stipends are allowances given to employees to donate to a non-profit of their choice. This not only encourages a culture of giving but also empowers employees to support causes they’re passionate about. The stipends can be a fixed amount annually or can vary based on the employee’s role or tenure.

3. Dollars for Doers: Volunteering Translated to Contributions

“Dollars for Doers” programs convert volunteer hours into monetary donations. When employees volunteer their time for a cause, the company makes a donation equivalent to the hours spent. This fosters a culture of hands-on involvement and ensures that both time and money are being donated to valuable initiatives.

4. Corporate Grants: Sowing Seeds for Bigger Change

Beyond individual employee contributions, companies can set aside a dedicated fund for corporate grants. These grants can be given to non-profits, research initiatives, or community projects that align with the company’s CSR objectives. Such grants can lead to substantial, long-term changes and foster strong partnerships with community leaders and organizations.

Why Choose Groundswell for Your Giving Initiatives?

Incorporating these elements into a giving policy requires streamlined management, transparency, and ease of execution. This is where platforms like Groundswell come into the picture.

Groundswell offers an efficient and affordable solution for companies aiming to elevate their philanthropic endeavors. Here’s why it’s the ideal choice:

  • User-Friendly Interface: Groundswell’s platform is designed for both companies and employees, ensuring smooth navigation and straightforward donation processes.
  • Versatility: Whether it’s donation matching, handling charitable stipends, or managing corporate grants, Groundswell offers solutions tailored to each company’s unique needs.
  • Cost-Effective: Groundswell provides a comprehensive suite of tools at competitive prices, ensuring that more of your money goes towards the cause rather than platform fees.
  • Transparency: Track donations, monitor employee involvement, and generate detailed reports to measure the impact—all in one place.

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An effective corporate giving policy is a blend of structure, employee engagement, and impactful contributions. By incorporating elements like donation matching, charitable stipends, “Dollars for Doers,” and corporate grants, businesses can create a ripple effect of positive change. And with platforms like Groundswell, executing these initiatives becomes not just feasible but also highly efficient and cost-effective.

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5 Tips to Boost Engagement & Impact on Giving Tuesday

Leverage GivingTuesday to boost generosity

Every November, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is known as GivingTuesday, which often serves as the unofficial start of end-of-year giving campaigns. This comes on the heels of holiday shopping deals on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. It is a worldwide phenomenon, inspiring millions to lean into the end-of-year holiday spirit with generosity and compassion. For many charities, GivingTuesday has become their biggest day for donations – and can help resource their ability to have an even greater impact in the year ahead.

For companies, GivingTuesday and the end-of-year giving season offers an opportunity to double down on their commitment to social responsibility, strengthen relationships with employees, and boost their impact in the community and broader world.

At Groundswell, we partner with companies all across the country to design and launch GivingTuesday campaigns – leveraging our easy-to-use platform that makes it easy for employees to participate and send donations to the causes and charities that they care most about. Below are some best practices to boost engagement and inspire generosity during the giving season.

1. Make Giving Easy:

A lot of giving platforms out there make it incredibly hard to donate. Some don’t have all 1.5 million IRS-approved charities listed. Others require employees to navigate through a web of intranet or sharepoint sites to find the giving program landing page. And others require that HR is notified of any donations an employee wants to make. At Groundswell – we are committed to removing all of the friction, and ensuring that employees can find charities easily, through a platform that is accessible from the palm of their hand, so they can give whenever they want to.

2. Launch a GivingTuesday Match Campaign:

Through Groundswell you can customize and launch a special GivingTuesday match campaign in a matter of minutes. Simply pick the nonprofits to include in the special campaign, select the start and end-date for the campaign, and then determine the match – 2x, 3x – along with any overall budget limits, then you’re done!

3. Boost engagement by involving ERGs:

Share nonprofit recommendations from Employee Resource Groups to provide inspiration around causes and nonprofits that matter to your employees. You can feature these nonprofits on dedicated ERG Corporate Spotlights and Campaigns that will be visible to all employees on their Groundswell dashboard.

4. Surprise (and Delight) Employees With A Gift to Give:

Consider sending a surprise “gift to give” to reward those already participating in your giving program (and to incentivize others to enroll). These gifts might be used to further maximize impact through the existing campaign, or to donate to other nonprofits your employees care about. Groundswell’s custom gift feature allows companies to easily schedule and send gifts with little to no administrative burden.

5. Level up with Volunteer Matching:

Groundswell’s Volunteer Matching program – sometimes known as Dollars for Doers – recognizes that some employees may not have funds to contribute, but have time – and rewards them in the same way. It’s an inclusive approach that invites everyone to participate in GivingTuesday, even those who may not be able to donate their own funds.

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12 Employee Benefits Survey Questions Modern Companies Should Ask

In today's business environment, having the right and highest performing talent is more critical than ever. With benefits packages playing a vital role in these decisions, how can companies truly gauge their effectiveness? By initiating regular employee benefits surveys.

Scroll down for a free survey template below.

Let's dive in to the importance of asking the following questions.

Is our workforce satisfied with the current employee benefits package?

Gaining insights from "how satisfied are you with our company’s benefits package?" can offer companies a quick pulse on the effectiveness of their benefits. A dip in satisfaction might signal a need for re-evaluation, especially if you're looking to maximize your budget.

How comprehensive are the employee benefits we offer?

Do employees feel that the organization covers a wide range of their needs? Asking, "do you feel our benefits package is comprehensive in its offering?" can shed light on any potential gaps in coverage.

Are we showing true commitment to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion through our benefits?

Are the company's efforts in promoting DE&I resonating? This can be gauged by asking if the benefits genuinely support diversity and inclusion. If they aren't, here's an opportunity to collect ideas directly from your employees.

Read more about how to make sure your giving program is equitable and inclusive.

Do our benefits reflect our company culture and values?

The question, "do you feel our benefits package supports our cultural values?" will highlight any potential discrepancies in practicing what you're preaching.

Did you know? Two-thirds of employees say it’s important for a company to align to their values.

Are we catering to the needs of a remote or multi-location workforce?

With remote work on the rise, is the company adapting its benefits accordingly? It's essential to find out if employees feel supported, regardless of their work setting.

Would employees recommend the company based on our benefits?

This is an easy one to skip, but it's a great question to ask. See how influential your benefits package is for employee referrals. Determining if employees would advocate for the company based on its benefits can be a key metric for recruitment.

How do specific benefit categories fare?

By querying satisfaction levels across various benefits – physical health, social impact, mental health, financial health, and fringe benefits – can companies discern which areas are thriving and which need enhancement?

What additional benefits do employees desire?

Is there a particular benefit that could make a difference in employee satisfaction and retention? Discovering this can be as straightforward as asking, "if you could choose one benefit not currently offered, what would it be?"

If your workforce desires a more meaningful benefit, see why decentralizing your corporate philanthropy strategy can achieve greater impact at scale.

How often should I send an employee survey about our benefits?

While every business has their own set of unique needs, conducing a quarterly employee survey at minimum can help you get a pulse check.

There will be some natural and unplanned peaks in valleys throughout the year that can drastically affect employee morale and company culture. By proactively seeking feedback through surveys, companies can foster a culture of continuous improvement, ensuring they remain at the forefront of employee satisfaction.

What are some affordable benefit options we can provide employees?

Corporate matching or giving programs can be a low-cost addition to your benefit offering that supports your employees’ unique passions and perspectives through charitable giving and boosts your company’s commitment to social impact.  Groundswell offers a comprehensive solution with a simple implementation and nearly zero administration burden.

[Free Template] Employee Benefits Survey Questions

  1. How satisfied are you with our company’s benefits package?
  2. Do you feel our benefits package is comprehensive in its offering?
  3. Do you feel our benefits package supports our cultural values?
  4. Do you feel our benefits package supports our commitment to Diversity & Inclusion?
  5. Do you feel our benefits package supports our remote or multi-location workforce?
  6. How likely are you to recommend applying based on our benefits package?
  7. How satisfied are you with our physical health benefits (i.e. health care, sick leave, etc)?
  8. How satisfied are you with our social impact benefits (i.e. corporate matching, volunteering, etc)?
  9. How satisfied are you with our mental health benefits (i.e. vacation time, EAP, etc)?
  10. How satisfied are you with our financial health benefits? (i.e. retirement, student loan assistance, etc)
  11. How satisfied are you with our fringe benefits and perks? (i.e. fitness subsidies, stipends, etc)
  12. If you could choose one benefit not currently offered, what would it be?
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