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‘Tis the Season of Giving! How Philanthropy Benefits the Community and Your Business

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The holiday season brings thoughts of others so often, philanthropy comes to mind. Philanthropic activities are a great way to give back and can benefit both your business and the impact can reach far beyond your local community.

With some insight from Eric Bates, we share some ways that giving can positively impact the community. Plus, we're sharing tips for deciding where to give this season.

Why Philanthropy is Important

Philanthropy is an important part of a thriving community. It's about more than just donating money, time or goods; it's also about creating deeper connections with the people around you and giving back to those in need. Philanthropic activities can involve volunteering, organizing fundraisers, delivering meals, or providing charity goods and services.

Eric says, "Research has shown that giving makes you feel good. It’s been proven: spending on others makes you feel better than spending it on yourself. Its rewarding when you give to someone else who might not have the resources to help themselves."

Here are some additional reasons people and companies benefit from giving back.

Strengthens Local Connections

When your business participates in philanthropic activities, it helps create strong relationships between the business and its surrounding community. This type of connection benefits both parties – local customers have a positive view of companies that are giving back to the community, and businesses can benefit from the loyalty and positive word of mouth of their customers.

Builds a Positive Reputation

Participating in philanthropic activities can help your business build a positive reputation and gain more customers. People are drawn to businesses that care about their local community and are willing to give back.

Showcases Your Values

Philanthropy is not just about giving; it’s also about showcasing the values of your business. Donating your time, resources, and money to those in need shows that your business cares about more than just profits. This can be a great way to attract new customers with similar values.

Giving back to the community is beneficial for the people you are helping.  Many organizations help put people back on their feet or teach them valuable skills and can also have many positive impacts on your business. So this holiday season, consider how you can use philanthropy to benefit your community and your business. Giving back is a great way to show customers that you care and make a lasting positive impact on those around you.

Generates Positive PR

When you participate in philanthropic activities, it creates a positive buzz about your business. Participating in philanthropic activities can be a great way to generate positive press for your business. It also highlights your values, which can attract new customers who share similar beliefs.

Increases Employee Engagement

When employees participate in philanthropy together, it helps create deeper connections between them and increases employee engagement. Philanthropic activities are an opportunity for team members to work together and bond.  It offers employees a break from their everyday routine and can serve as an effective and individually rewarding team-building activity.

Boosts Customer Loyalty

Customers are more likely to remain loyal to companies that give back. When customers know that the business they support is doing good in the community, it helps create trust and loyalty. This can lead to increased customer retention, new clients and positive word-of-mouth.

Eric says, "a good culture in most good businesses involves others. It involves the team that works for you, the families they support, and the communities they live in."

Much like the work we do here at The Johnson Foundation, we were born and built to be a supporter of others and of other philanthropic organizations doing great work.

Frank Lloyd Wright built the historic Wingspread property for the Johnson family in 1938. The Johnsons ultimately gifted this amazing home and campus to The Johnson Foundation for philanthropic work. The core of what we do is to support non-profits and other worthy groups that want to hold meaningful meetings or discussions around topics that are important to them or important to the world.

"So philanthropy," Eric says, "kind of runs in our blood here."

Learn more about The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread >>

How to Decide Where to Give

Eric says, "one of my beliefs is that it's always much better to be in the driver's seat of your giving. It's better to drive your donation when it needs to be there, where it needs to go, or where you have a passion for it."

Check Out Charity Navigator

One great way to decide where to give is by using Charity Navigator. It offers unbiased ratings and reviews of over 195,000 charities so that you can find the best option for your philanthropic efforts.  One helpful feature they offer is their Giving Basket which helps you contribute to multiple charities of your choice from one ‘basket’ automatically every month.

Consider Your Interests

One of the best ways to choose a charity is to consider your own interests and passions. Do you care about animals? There are plenty of charities that focus on protecting wildlife or providing shelter for homeless pets. Are you passionate about education? Many organizations focus on literacy or providing scholarships for underprivileged students. By finding a charity that aligns with your interests, you can be sure your donation will go towards something you care about.  Do you have a hard to buy for person on your holiday list?  Donate in their name to a charity they are passionate about.  They will receive a nice acknowledgement of the donation made in their name and you’ll both feel great about the thoughtful gift.

Research the Charity

Once you've decided on a few charities that interest you, it's time to do some research. Fortunately, this is easier than ever, thanks to the internet. Websites like CharityNavigator.org or GivingTuesday.org offer research and helpful information.  And a simple Google search can yield a wealth of information about any given charity, including reviews, financial statements, press coverage, political or religious alignments and even tax records. By taking the time to research a charity before you donate, you can ensure that your money is going toward a reputable organization with a history of responsible spending and governance.

Think Long-Term

When deciding where to donate, it's important to think about more than just the immediate impact of your donation. Donating money to a food bank is a great way to help feed needy families now, but what happens after they've been fed? For even more impact, consider finding charities that focus on long-term solutions to hunger by helping individuals get back on their feet, gain employment and find housing. By thinking both short and long-term, we can ensure that our donations help now and have a lasting impact for the future.

Giving Beyond the Holidays

Eric says, "when to give is as important as what to give."

Local shelters, food banks, and charities often experience a ‘boom or bust’ donation cycle.  The most giving tends to happen during the holidays, but many organizations could use your support year-round. Instead of donating only at Thanksgiving and Christmas time, consider spreading your donations throughout the year to ensure that these organizations have enough resources to help those in need all year.  Plus, scheduling a monthly donation helps the organization plan programming and deliver services throughout the year.  The needs of most philanthropic organizations are just as great in May as they are in December.

Eric suggests calling your local organizations to ask what they could specifically use - and when, whether it's money, food, or volunteer hours. This allows you to make an impact in your own community and have a direct hand in helping those who could really use it.  Every charitable organization would be happy to get a call like that!

Ultimately, philanthropy is beneficial for businesses and the communities they serve. It is wonderful to think about giving at this time of year, but if we all think strategically about the ‘why’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘when’ of our giving, the impact of our giving will have a ripple effect that multiplies the goodness of our gift.

The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread champions the power of collaborative work and conversation to benefit the world around us.  Meaningful philanthropy only takes a few steps, a few dollars and a few hours, so let’s get out there and start giving!

Happy Holidays from Wingspread! 🎁🤝🎄