Why Philanthropy is Good for Business

Businessmen and women holding hands

Corporate philanthropy can actually be great for business.
Image: Shutterstock

Of course it feels good to give, but did you know there are actually professional business benefits as well? As corporate giving increases, the positive outcomes for both businesses and the community continue to grow. Here’s a look at just a few.

Building relationships

When a business dedicates time and money to a cause, it shows a drive for positive change. This can be a great way for a business to build relationships—often relationships that lead to future customers and business opportunities. When a business shows outstanding dedication to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), they are proving to customers, both potential and current, that the future of the community matters to them. This can lead to an increase in brand loyalty down the line.

Building a brand

Big name partnerships between philanthropic organizations and businesses lead to more exposure for both. The United Way, for instance, has a variety of notable partnerships with businesses such as the NFL. And according to the CSR Branding Survey 2010, 75% of those who read about a company’s social responsibility agenda said it made them more likely to purchase from that company in the future. They also said they were more likely to tell a friend about the business. That’s a great way to spread the word about what your company offers!

Building employee engagement

Corporate philanthropic giving can also be a great way to engage employees and create a sense of community, with everyone working toward a larger goal. Many companies now encourage their employees to volunteer, which can add to a worker’s energy and drive. Not only does getting involved make your business look good; it also helps the people within that business get motivated and feel good about working together toward a larger goal. And of course it’s great for the outside community your employees are helping, too!

Bill Gates, an avid philanthropist as well as businessman, once said, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” More and more, businesses are proving their abilities and the quality of their services by getting out into the community and showing an interest helping with the problems of the larger world around them.

Three Charities That Help Animals

Sleeping cat

Have you considered donating to a charity that helps animals?
Image: Shutterstock

If you love animals, you might consider donating to a charity or non-profit that helps them out. Your money could help find homes for pets that need them or help protect endangered species or further research into protecting fragile ecosystems. Look for local charities or non-profits you can support through donations or volunteering. Or, if you want to try something on a larger scale, you can search for state, national, or international charities.

Consider one of the below charities to start. They’re all worthy causes, and they might introduce you to some issues you didn’t even know about.

Alley Cat Allies is “dedicated to protecting and improving the lives of our nation’s cats.” They seek to help educate people on how public policy can work against cats, from animal control ordinances to shelter policies that result in many cats being killed every year, simply because they don’t have a home. They advocate for humane care, the education of cat owners, and connecting people who need or can offer help.

The American Veterinary Medical foundation is the charitable arm of the American Veterinary Medical Association, and they have been helping veterinarians help animals for over 50 years. They utilize donations to help offset the cost of veterinary training, to help educate people on the importance of veterinary medicine as a part of food safety, and to help further medical research. They also have programs to recognize exceptional veterinarians and to help families with pets deal with disasters.

Days End Farm Horse Rescue is a “well respected national rescue and rehabilitation facility” which has helped over 2,000 horses since 1989. They focus their efforts on rehabilitating and training injured and abused horses so that can be adopted by caring individuals. They also seek to educate people on the needs and proper care of horses in order to prevent abuse and neglect in the first place.

Using Charity-Affiliated Products to Raise Money

Two businessmen about to shake hands

Partnerships between businesses and charities can produce great results.
Image: Shutterstock

If your company is considering donating a portion of its profits to charity, there are a few ways you can do so. You could match donations made by employees or simply donate directly to a charity each year or quarter. You could also consider forming a partnership with a charity to choose one of your products and donate a portion of the sale from that product to the charity in question.

Charity affiliated products can be a good way to generate money for that charity, if you do it right. It can also backfire if you don’t plan accordingly. Below are a few tips to help you get started thinking about the process of creating a charity affiliated product.

Form a partnership with a charity. This might seem obvious, but you want to be able to say right on the packaging who benefits from this purchase. Not what it supports, but whom. In order to best do this, contact the charity you want to help and work with them to determine the best way to alert customers to the charitable nature of the product.

Be transparent, especially concerning the donation itself. Tell your customers not only who will receive a portion of this item’s sale, but how much that portion will be. Go ahead and say right on the package what percentage or how much money from each sale will be donated. Avoid vague statements like “a portion of the proceeds,” because that could be a penny from a $100 dollar item, for all the customer knows.

Find a charity that’s right for your company–and the product. If you make cigarettes, donating to a lung cancer charity is just going to look like a base attempt to garner goodwill. It will also backfire, as such a relationship would be terrible for any serious cancer charity. Less obvious, though, is to keep in mind the product and charity connection. Proceeds from the sale of dog collars going to animal shelters makes a lot more sense than donating that money to leukemia research.

Marfan Foundation Honors Hero With a Heart Award Winners

Marfan Foundation logo

The Marfan Foundation has just awarded its Hero With a Heart honors for 2015.
Image: Marfan.org

Today the Marfan Foundation honored the winners of its Hero With a Heart Award. The ceremony took place as part of the fifteenth Heartworks gala event in New York City. The foundation’s Board of Directors, which includes Karen Murray, Mary J. Roman, and Cory Eaves, has been instrumental in promoting the nonprofit’s work and honoring the people doing it.

Carolyn Levering, Emeritus CEO of the Marfan Foundation, was celebrated for her 20 years of work educating the public about Marfan syndrome and related disorders. Under her leadership, the foundation grew from a grassroots organization to a large, successful nonprofit focusing on supporting the 200,000 people in the US living with Marfan syndrome.

Isaiah Austin, a promising Baylor University basketball star, had his career cut short when he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome just before the 2014 NBA draft. Since then, he has been an inspiration to those suffering from the condition, working hard to bring it to public attention. He received the award in appreciation for his efforts to inspire others and raise the profile of the condition.

“We are thrilled to honor Carolyn for her 20 years of service to the foundation,” said Murray. “Under her leadership, the foundation has truly made life better for people with Marfan syndrome and related disorders, including my son.” Of Austin, she said, “He is a quality individual who is an outstanding role model for our children and teens.”

Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects the connective tissue in the body. It is caused by a defect in the protein fibrillin-1, with elements of the disorder showing up most often in the heart, blood vessels, bones, joints, and eyes. Some features of the disease, such as aortic enlargement, can be life threatening.

The Heartworks events have raised more than $10 million to date for the Marfan Foundation, which goes toward education, patient support, and research. Sponsors include the American Heart Association, CRBE, Cushman & Wakefield, Macy’s, Nautica, and VF Sportswear.


BroadIgnite Connects Young Philanthropists and Scientists to Further Innovation

Woman in lab coat performing test

BroadIgnite strives to connect young scientists and philanthropists to advance biomedical research.
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Sharmil Modi, an analyst at Baupost Group, a giant hedge fund in Boston, was surprised to learn that some scientists at the Broad Institute, a Cambridge biomedical research center, were having trouble funding their biomedical research. His surprise led to the creation of BroadIgnite, which connects up and coming scientists with new-to-the-field philanthropists.

Formed in September 2014, BroadIgnite has raised $200,000. But the numbers they’re focusing on are actually fairly low: they push for donations more in the range of $40,000 to support high risk scientific research at its earliest stages, before it’s eligible for more formal funding from organizations like the National Institutes of Health.

“We’re taking a chance with what we view to be relatively small amounts of money—20, 30, 40 thousand dollars—on young scientists and their ideas relatively early in their careers,” Modi said. “To be clear, $40,000 or $50,000 isn’t going to create a breakthrough that’s going to cure cancer or diabetes” but, he argues, it could be the first step toward traditional funding.

BroadIgnite grew out of a presentation by the Broad Institue’s president, Dr. Eric Lander, to the Baupost Group. Subsequently, members of the Baupost Group have donated $32.5 million to the Institute.

“The Broad Institute is strongly committed to empowering bright young scientists to pursue their biggest and boldest ideas,” says the BroadIgnite website. Their focus areas are inherited diseases, cancer, infectious diseases, therapeutic development, and cellular responses.

BroadIgnite also takes philanthropy one step further, encouraging donors and scientists to meet and socialize. Those who give to the organization are invited to visit the lab and see their financial backing in action. Other social and networking events are also planned throughout the year.

There were 5 awardees for the 2014-15 season: Nicholas Haining, Daniel MacArthur, and Eliezer Van Allen, all of Harvard Medical School; Ben Ebert of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute; and Anthony Philippakis of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Peter Singer on Where Your Money Can Do the Most Good

Two hands, palm up, holding a coin

Should we advocate some charitable giving over others?
Image: Shutterstock

David Geffen’s donation to Avery Fish Hall raised some eyebrows, but arguably none with a history quite like Peter Singer.

The writer and philosopher’s most recent book, The Most Good You Can Do, focuses on philanthropic giving in terms of, as the title suggests, where it can do the most good. In Singer’s opinion, this means focusing one’s efforts on the impoverished around the world to bring up the general quality of life before donating to bigger community organizations such as a concert hall in New York City.

For example, Singer points out that less than $100, never mind $100 million, could restore sight to someone who is blind.

Singer himself has given away 10% of his income for 40 years, with that percentage rising to between a quarter and a third of his income as he progressed in his career. A scholar at both Princeton University and the University of Melbourne, Singer hopes to change the way those involved with charity view ethics.

It’s a tricky business, with some critics saying it’s counterproductive to openly disapprove of any sort of charitable donation; Singer, however, believes adamantly in a first things first philosophy, as well as the importance of knowing where donations go and what specifically they fund.

Singer also notes in his book that students and recent graduates have been more receptive to his philosophy than are older adults. Millennials, he says, are extremely altruistic, possibly because of technological advances. Technology “connects them all over the world, so they’re more cosmopolitan, and the barriers between people in different countries and far away have declined,” he says. “Another factor is that with the IT revolution, a different kind of person makes a lot of money and…they’re extremely well paid, and they’re wondering what to do with that money.”

Singer views donating a portion of one’s income as a method of taxing the wealthy in a productive way. His books points to several studies showing that beyond a certain income level—generally around $75,000—earning more money doesn’t increase well-being. So why not put that money toward increasing someone else’s well-being?

Most people, Singer notes, tend to give based on passion or emotional response—someone asked them, or they saw a particularly touching ad. According to Singer, it’s far more important to put passion aside and look at how one’s donation is actually being used. To that end, there are a variety of apps and websites out there that help would-be donors make their choices.

What do you think? Are some charities more “worthy” than others? Should we be focusing our donations on third world countries rather than community concert halls? Does one kind of donation mean “more” than another, or are they all equally important? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Generation Z Leads New Philanthropy Push

Young girl with pink heart

More and more young people are getting engaged in philanthropy.
Image: Shutterstock

The philanthropy bug is hitting younger and younger, according to experts, in large part because of young people’s facility with technology and networking with peers and on social media. Kids are having an astounding effect on charitable causes, raising monumental amounts of money for their causes of choice and dedicating themselves to future careers as philanthropists and charity workers.

For example, Maya Rigler, a 10-year-old cancer patient in Pennsylvania, has collected more than $100,000 for pediatric cancer research through a website set up with the charity Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Diagnosed with cancer for the second time (she beat cancer at age two but now faces a completely different pancreatic cancer), Rigler and her parents use their website to raise awareness and funds. Within a week of creating the page, they reached their initial goal of $10,000. By mid-March, three months later, they had reached $100,000—the most ever raised via an Alex’s Lemonade Stand site. Rigler’s current goal is $250,000.

Brett Mezrow, an 11-year-old whose best friend Niels Strautnieks suffers from mitochondrial disease, created a video program to raise awareness—and funds—for the research and treatment of the disease.  Though Strautnieks was initially a bit shy about speaking out, the boys have since raised more than $1,500 with their campaign, which they now hope will go viral, similar to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. They plan to pitch their campaign to nearby high schoolers to get assistance in spreading the word online.

Richard Marker, a professor at New York University and a philanthropy consultant, suggests that campaigns like Rigler’s and Mezrow’s are successful not so much because young people these days are more concerned with philanthropic issues than kids in the past were, but because it’s easier to create and build on connections through social media and other forms of technology. Not only does this make it easier to get the word out, but it also makes it easier for young philanthropists to connect with bigger organizations

With such promising beginnings, who knows what amazing things Generation Z will accomplish in the future?

Tim Cook to Donate Fortune to Charity

Apple HQ in New York City

Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, has said he will donate the majority of his fortune to charity before his death.
Image: pio3 / Shutterstock.com

Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, has announced he intends to give away almost all of his roughly $800 million fortune before the end of his life.

After providing for his 10-year-old nephew’s education, he has said he will donate the rest to charity. Although he wasn’t specific on which charities he will choose, he’s previously shown interest in organizations working to end HIV/AIDS, efforts to combat climate change, and Stanford University hospitals. He also gave $50 million to Product Red, a charity working against AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Cook has said that he would like to put together a systematic approach to philanthropy.

Cook’s interest in corporate philanthropy sets him apart from his Apple predecessor, Steve Jobs, who was less inclined to make public donations.

“You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change,” Cook told Fortune Magazine.

Given the estimated size of his fortune, Cook could end up being far more than just a pebble. Though not yet a billionaire, his base salary is reported at $1.75 million, and his net worth is roughly $120 million, based on his Apple stock holdings. His other investments, if fully vested, could be worth about $665 million. That’s far more than small change!

Cook would be joining many other wealthy, high profile executives in giving generously. In 2010, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates launched the Giving Pledge, a request to the wealthy to donate at least 50% of their funds to charity before their deaths. A variety of big names have signed up, including Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

In fact, “philanthropreneurs” are becoming a common element of the technology and business industries. Those who are well off, particularly in up and coming areas, are giving to the less fortunate more and more, both as individuals and as larger corporations.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Announces Plan to Build New Treatment Research Facility

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center logo

The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center will build a new treatment research facility. Image: Mskcc.org

The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center recently announced that it will spend $140 million in private funds to build an outpatient treatment and research facility.

The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is the world’s oldest and largest private cancer research center and it is widely recognized for its contributions to cancer treatment and research. This new facility will be able to make huge strides in the development of cancer research.

Memorial Sloan Kettering is led by a group of highly experienced professionals, including Craig B. Thompson, Sloan Kettering President and CEO, William Ford of General Atlantic who is a member of its board of trustees, and Mortimer Zuckerman, who sits on the cancer center’s board of directors.

“This project fits with our vision to build up the health care industry in Nassau County and complements the educational institutions in the area,” County Executive Edward Mangano said in an interview.

Patients will be able to receive chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatments once the two-story, 105,000-square-foot facility is completed. The new center will also be the home to clinical research. According to Avice Meehan, a Memorial Sloan Kettering spokeswoman, the prestigious cancer center will absorb its Rockville Centre into the new facility.

This announcement is another example of the impressive power of philanthropy, as this project was made possible by using exclusively private funds.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is no stranger to the force philanthropy can have for a business. The cancer center has received several large donations in the past, such as a 2006 donation from Mr. Zuckerman, and two separate times from donors Daniel Ludwig and Henry Kravis in 2014. This new facility’s construction was undoubtedly made possible by these generous donations.

The current expectation is that the new facility will open by 2018, as that is when the Rockville Centre lease expires. You can learn more about the construction project by visiting Memorial Sloan Kettering’s website.

Nonprofit Helps Military Aircrew in Need

Military pilot in cockpit

The Air Warriors Courage Foundation supports aviation veterans and their families.
Image: Shutterstock

The Air Warriors Courage Foundation (AWCF) is a non-profit dedicated to helping disabled or needy veterans, their dependents, widows, widowers, and orphans. Veterans do not always receive the help they need from the government after their discharge, so charitable organizations like the AWCF are, regrettably, a necessity.

The AWCF has its roots in the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association which, starting in 1970, was dedicated to providing scholarship assistance to the surviving dependents of airmen killed, captured, or missing in action during the Vietnam Conflict. They expanded their efforts to help the families of association members, but it became apparent that there was more work to be done.

In 1998, the AWCF was formed and granted nonprofit status in recognition of the increasing number of difficulties that active, retired, and former members of the US military and their families face. Since then, they have expanded their efforts to provide a variety of philanthropic services to service members and their families.

The Earl Aman Courage Fund helps needy military aircrew and their families cover their medical expenses. The Helping Achieve Normal Development Fund (or HAND for short) helps cover therapeutic programs for military-dependant children with a variety of developmental difficulties. The Troop Support 9/11 Memorial Fund provides scholarships and financial support to the families of military personnel injured or killed in the War on Terror and helps military units with humanitarian efforts around the world.

The Air Warriors Courage Foundation does a lot of good, and they have been recognized for their efforts. They have won numerous awards for their work and are highly rated by Charity Navigator. Like any charitable group, though, they can always use assistance. If you’re interested in helping the AWCF help others, they accept donations online or via the postal service. They also accept automobile donations.


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