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Thanks to Cascade Business News for covering the important topic of community giving through an article written by our own principle broker, Sara LaFaver. We thought this article was worth sharing again here!

“The holidays have come and gone and so has the strong focus on charitable giving. In fact, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, more than half of all nonprofit organizations say that they receive the majority of their annual donations in the fourth quarter of the year. But we all know that the need for donations doesn’t go away just because the season changes.

Many large companies have ongoing giving strategies in place – parameters are set and a process is set in order to manage charitable activities. For smaller firms and startups, this approach is just as important, but often not as simple as it may seem at first glance. There are so many other (seemingly more urgent) balls in the air when leaders at smaller companies wear multiple hats.

At our firm, founder Sandy Garner certainly found this to be the case when she started what is now Harcourts The Garner Group Real Estate after spending several years in the Central Oregon real estate field. As a third generation resident of the region, her roots run deep and community involvement has always been a priority.

“Volunteering and supporting charities in my hometown is a natural for me,” said Garner. “I feel strongly about many of the causes and charitable work that organizations are doing in our region, and so do the people who work here.”

In fact, one of the challenges for creating a community giving strategy for us has been accommodating the many passions of the staff and agents who work here.

Sandy continued, “We’re like family –literally– so we have felt that supporting the causes that are near and dear to each person’s heart is vital to morale and team building. It’s also just something we want to do.” (Three generations of Garner’s family work at our office, both on staff and as real estate agents.)

Many locally owned, small companies likely face a similar problem – there are so many great causes and they want to give to them all. This kind of “shotgun” approach isn’t sustainable and doesn’t have the level of impact that a concerted approach can accomplish. After some trial and error, we’re in the process of revamping its own community giving strategy and has some great advice to others who want to make a difference, but need a plan to get there.

  • Dedicate hours to community giving. Our firm actually hired a staff member who manages the giving strategy for the company, among other tasks. She has experience working in the nonprofit space and has real time carved out to strategize community sponsorships, donations and volunteer opportunities.
  • Follow your/their passion. The passion points among our staff and agents run the gamut – causes from children and family services to cancer research and from animal welfare to the arts. Find out where the true passions within your office lie and then identify the organizations that have the largest impact. It’s important to support your fellow workers and your staff, so be sensitive to their wants and needs when it comes to philanthropy.
  • Set a budget and a plan. Create a budget that is set aside for community giving – it will give you some parameters to set up your donation stream for the year. Identify the passion points (above) and create a giving statement. For example, ShopKo’s statement clearly states that it will “focus on areas of giving that support the health of Shopko customers, teammates and communities.” Do a quick Google search for corporate giving strategies and get some ideas of how to formulate a statement to act as a guide.
  • Encourage volunteerism. Whether it is a group effort where a team goes out and helps work on a Habitat for Humanity house or an individual spends time with a child through Big Brothers Big Sisters – create a company culture that makes it easy to volunteer. Offer paid time off and employer matching donations. You’ll reap the benefits now and later.

It’s not impossible to make community giving a part of your business strategy – just like your digital presence or your employee benefits. Make it a priority, devote time and energy up front to getting a plan in place and make sure you’re following the passions that matter most. As Mother Teresa said, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving” – and for businesses today – love means time. Make a difference in your community! It’s worth every minute.”