After reaching a certain level of success, many building materials companies want to give back. But with more than 2 million nonprofits in the United States, how do you find charity partners worth your support?
Luxe Linear Drains is a great example of a building product manufacturer leading the way.
As a veteran-owned building materials business, each year the manufacturer partners with veteran hospitals, donating products that make bathrooms and kitchens more easily accessible.
I sat down with Joe Phillips, owner at Luxe, to put together these tips for finding charity partners and supporting causes that align with your business.
Remember Your CSR Goals
There are countless worthy charities vying for your support. To find a good fit, go back to your core values. A good place to start is your corporate social responsibility goals.
It’s important for a business to have several goals around corporate social responsibility and to make it part of the way you do business. What do you want to achieve? Do you want to help alleviate homelessness? Do you want to address environmental challenges?
Choosing a few causes to focus on will help guide your efforts.
Look for Charities That Align with Your Business
A good place to start your search for potential charity partners is the architecture and design space.
You can find causes that align with your goals, and it becomes an extension of your business and the message you’re trying to send customers. That kind of partnership may also ultimately help your business, too.
Instead of just thinking philanthropically, there’s an opportunity to think about nonprofits that will help you do your business better, particularly in regions that are underserved by the social safety net.
It’s also worth tapping into your staff’s knowledge and experience. Asking employees about the issues and charities they care about will increase engagement and may uncover charities you hadn’t considered.
Research Potential Charity Partners
Not all charities are created equal. You’ll spend time and money to support whatever cause you choose, so make sure the nonprofit is an effective one. It’s a great idea to do research on efficacy and governance. For example, you’ll want to question how the money is being spent. Is the nonprofit spending a lot on Christmas parties or is the money being used to deliver on the work?
A third-party perspective can be useful. Two well-known watchdog organizations. GuideStar provides nonprofits’ histories, tax filing status, assets, programs and other statistics. Charity Navigator focuses on accountability, transparency and financials.
These watchdogs help you get a sense of how the money is being spent, which is important, but don’t get hung up on the fact that nonprofits have to pay salaries and expenses. A hundred percent of the funds can’t go directly to the cause, and that shouldn’t be seen as a negative.
Effective nonprofits tend to spend about 12 to 15% percent of their budget on operations.
Reach Out to Learn More About Organizations
Many business owners choose to partner with charities that have roots in their own communities. There may not be as much third-party information about these smaller nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
If the nonprofit does not have a Charity Navigator score, that’s okay. It doesn’t mean it’s not doing good work. Look at their board of directors and determine how they’ve structured their governance. Don’t be shy about reaching out to learn more about their work.
Here are some good questions to ask nonprofits:
- How do you measure results?
- Can you share any reports on your results?
- How is your leadership evaluated?
- When and how often does your board meet?
- How do you determine if the CEO or executive director is doing his or her job appropriately?
- What are your plans for the future?
Any data point that the NGO can share on the impact they’re having is really important. It’s hard to get data on some results, so they might not have a lot to share, but it’s worth asking.
Having a conversation with each of your potential charity partners will help determine which is the right one for your building materials business to support.
What Kind of Support Will Your Business Provide?
Once you’ve chosen a nonprofit, determine what kind of support you want to provide. Making donations, offering discounted or free building materials or providing services are options. You could also donate a portion of sales on Giving Tuesday. There are many ways to express your generosity.
There’s a ton of need in terms of what a business can provide a nonprofit. They also need services, like design work and labor.
Encourage your employees volunteer their expertise for a charity partner during work hours or on a specific holiday. That way, you can be seen as a partner with the nonprofit, and that’s good for your reputation.
No matter how you choose to support charity partners, make sure you share it with your customers and on social media.
Nowadays, customers want to see businesses spending money on good and doing the right thing. Use these types of partnerships as a chance to build something out and grow it, so you can put it on marketing materials year-round.