Raising the bar on CSR

–   By Tina Hodges

“As a child, I was taught that helping other people is a part of life – if you are fortunate enough to have, you should give to those who don’t. I believe that as entrepreneurs, it’s our responsibility to give back to the community. But managing corporate giving is a full-time job. You need dedicated personnel to take care of it. My husband and I have been running Advance Financial for 16 years. As the business has grown, so has our passion to serve. In 2012, the Executive Director of one of our non-profits made an observation at a holiday event. He said that we were giving money all over the place and that it wasn’t as effective as it could be. This really hit home. Charitable giving had become such an important part of our business that we realized we needed a dedicated employee taking care of these activities. We hired the Executive Director who was bold enough to give us this critique, Shantrelle Johnson, who is now the Vice President of Corporate Citizenship for Advance Financial. Under her guidance, we set up our own 501(c)(3) organization in an effort to organize our community outreach activities. With Shantrelle spearheading the foundation, we have become more strategic and effective in our giving. The Advance Financial Foundation has been established as a non-profit and it operates independently with a separate budget, employees and procedures. If you would like to start a non-profit organization alongside your business, here are some tips:

1. Find Your Person

A non-profit foundation doesn’t function like a regular organization, so take time to find the right person to lead it. The ideal person needs to be passionate about serving communities and possess a sharp business mind. Non-profit management can be learned by anybody with a drive to serve and passion to read, read and read more.

2. Determine Your Mission

There are so many causes, but you should know that it is practically impossible to support all of them. If you try helping them all, you wouldn’t effect real change. So, determine your mission! For some, it’s very clear. Being a nurse by training, I knew that I wanted to invest in wellness programs. If you aren’t sure about your mission, single out your company’s core values and find out if any of them align with any community needs. Alternatively, you can look for already established non-profits, identify gaps and make that your mission. You might even find your calling in this process.

3. Use Your Resources

There is quite a bit of paperwork to be filled out when you are setting up a non-profit. Take the help of individuals and companies specialized in helping start a non-profit. We worked with Nashville’s Centre For Non-Profit Management to make sure that all the i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed. The National Council of Non-Profits also offers similar services in all the 50 states.  The resources are here to help you out – use them and pay it forward.” Original Source: justmeans.com