When families embark on a journey to make philanthropy a part of their lives across generations, it often starts with simple concepts: Having fun as a family, getting in touch with nature, being authentic and open about values, donating canned goods or clothing to families in need, recycling cardboard and aluminum cans, celebrating every birthday and holiday with a big cake and a gift to charity, buying wrapping paper from the school fundraiser, contributing to a handful of favorite charities--even eating healthy food and appreciating every peaceful moment. In today's social impact culture, “doing good” is a powerful way to create a sense of belonging--in the family, the community, and the world.
Your community foundation helps you take it to the next level, so both you and your community get the most out of your family's social impact experiences. Here are four steps that make it all work.
Studies show us that before a person can become deeply engaged, emotionally and intellectually, in a community or a cause, or even philanthropy in general, he or she must feel affirmed that what he or she is doing already to “do good” is in fact good. This includes not only giving to charities, of course, but also volunteering in the community, recycling and respecting the environment, donating canned goods, serving on boards of directors or committees, and attending community events. It can also include purchasing products that support a cause, marketing favorite charities through social media, and even committing to personal and family health and wellness. Your community foundation knows you are making a difference in lots of ways.
A little learning goes a long way
Your community foundation can give you the educational resources you need! Learning about philanthropy is in high demand across all generations. Students are interested in techniques that result in lives actually being changed for the better. Parents want to know how to teach their young children about doing good. Grandparents want to know how to leverage philanthropy to create a multi-generational platform for preserving family values. Young professionals are seeking new ways to access business information about nonprofits, especially online. Corporate executives seek techniques for charitable planning that meet their tax and estate planning objectives. Your community foundation can help with all of this, and more!
Stories are powerful. Your family's unique story about making an impact will inspire others to pursue their own charitable objectives, too. The cause selected is an important part of any story! Other factors include how did the experience with philanthropy made the giver feel and the ways the giver’s life was enriched by feelings of gratitude and the ability to help people in need. Your community foundation wants to understand your own story of philanthropy and find out what inspires you the most. When you are giving to the causes you love, everyone wins--you, the community, and the organizations you support!
Motivation is the moment of truth! Does a student, an employee, an executive, or a parent have the tools and information to act on a philanthropic desire? That's what your community foundation is committed to doing. People at all levels of giving frequently voice this frustration: “I want to help, but I just don’t know how I can help.” Your community foundation can offer ideas for specific actions you can take to support your community and the causes you love. You'll be motivated and happy because you will know that your act of doing good, no matter how big or how small, makes a real difference.
Executives, civic leaders, parents, employees, students–and anyone else engaged in philanthropy--will love the expertise of their partners at the community foundation, and the community will be all the better for it. Now that’s success by doing good.
IDEAS FOR USING THIS ARTICLE
1. Recognizing the impact of today's social impact culture mindset on the success of your communications strategy is important not only for your communications team to understand, but also for your entire staff to embrace. An easy way to get everyone oriented to the new donor engagement reality is to share this article with all of your colleagues through an internal email, and then ask each team member to fill out a simple "10 Ways to Do Good" checklist or even something far less formal. The point here is that you are causing your colleagues to reflect on the relevance of the community foundation's mission in today's marketplace. Your community foundation is critical to keeping the social impact conversation going strong!
2. Consider adopting the framework in the article as the basis for your donor education program: Affirmation, Education, Inspiration, and Motivation is a winning methodology for getting donors further involved in supporting the causes they love through your foundation. An easy way to put this into action is to use this article as the basis for a two-pager titled "Our Donor Education Program," and supplement the text above with a listing of your donor education events or other resources.
3. "Side by side" and "hand in hand" are strong messages to describe your commitment to working with your donors. Use the cut and paste photo for your first post, and also as inspiration to find other images of "side by side" and "hand in hand." Post the article on social media and then follow it up each day with the additional images, linking back to the article to maximize reach.