Non-profits in our community are one of the reasons Nebraska is a great place to live, work and raise a family.  Whether they are providing food for the homeless, comforting grieving children, helping businesses be more environmentally friendly or providing other valuable services, non-profits play a vital role in our city.  However, they cannot do it alone.  Non-profits rely on the support of the individuals and businesses in our community to help them continue their mission.  Some of them need donated supplies, while others may need volunteers to help them work with those who need help or to assist them at fundraising events.

Those who are in business have a special opportunity to help out non-profits.  By getting the entire company involved, you can make a huge difference in how a non-profit is able to help those they serve.  Most business owners and executives are willing to give to non-profits as they know it’s part of being a good community partner and because they truly want to help their city be a better place.  The problem comes when they get confused about which non-profit might be the best match for them.  No matter how much they might like to give to every charity, it’s simply not possible and choices need to be made.  A successful match can lead to a fulfilling partnership and helping others, which is what every business (and non-profit) hopes for.  Other than being good community partners and knowing they are helping (which are in and of themselves excellent reasons to support non profits), businesses can often build stronger relationships with their stakeholders through their charitable endeavors (for larger companies) and can also help them establish a more recognizable name for themselves in the community.

So the question becomes, how do you choose the best non-profit or non-profits to support that will result in a satisfying relationship on both ends?  Here are some tips:

Make sure you know your business values.  Make sure you have a mission statement that guides your daily operations.  Often, when you have a clear mission
statement or philosophy, you will see a natural connection between your business and a potential non-profit.

Find out what non-profits your clients support.  Take a survey of your customers or clients and try to identify which causes or non-profits they support.  When you identify what is important to them, you may not only find a fit for your company, but you’ll also have more insight into your valuable clients and what they care about, which is never a bad thing!  Choosing a cause that resonates with your customers also shows them that you care about what is important to them.

Keep your employees in mind.  Of course, you should always take your employees’ concerns into consideration when you are deciding on which non-profit to partner with.  Identify if there is a need coming from within your company (perhaps one of your employees is fighting cancer or has an autistic child).  Choosing a cause that your employees will care about will get everyone excited and will result in better participation.

Determine the guidelines for choosing a charity.  Are there some criteria you’d like to adhere to, such as the size of the non-profit, how long it’s been in the community or whether it will do its work locally or nationally?

Pare down the list.  Once you have done the above, you should have the list narrowed down to a manageable number.  If you don’t, you might want to consider enlisting the help of someone within your company who can do a little more research into the non-profits to help with the selection process and get the list down to five or six.

Identify the non-profits who have similar mission statements.  Choosing an organization whose mission statement and philosophy resembles or complements your own is important.  Organizations that share the same ideals will likely work well with you toward a common goal.

Make sure you are comfortable with the organization.  You shouldn’t just do internet research or read reports.  You should actually meet with those who run the organization as well as some of those they help and some of their volunteers.  If you are not comfortable with those you will be working with or helping, it’s likely that the partnership will not be a successful or satisfying one.

Test out the partnership.  Before you do a full-blown campaign or commit a huge amount of money or time to a non-profit, donate to a small project with money, products or time and observe how the organization works during the process.  You will get a sense of how well your organizations work together
without a large commitment up front.

Now that you have a good idea of how to choose the best non-profits to complement your company, learn more about some of the wonderful organizations who are doing good right here in our community!