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Philanthropy for family-owned firms: 10 rules of the road

In celebration of National Giving Day on Sept. 18, Community  Foundation of North Texas provided the following: 

Philanthropy for Family-Owned Firms: 10 Rules of the Road

1. Be selective and realistic. Consider your location, mission, and what you have to offer the community. Think about your customers and supporting the causes they care about most.  4-H, Scouts; Little League, school athletic team, community arts program 2. Stay local. Focusing on community-based efforts ensures the community in which you have invested your time, energy and money is healthy, safe and vibrant. It gives you a better opportunity to raise your profile and make a positive impression in the community.  Civic Booster Club; Police Activity League, YWCA; Open Space Initiative; Food Pantry 3. Involve your employees. Many companies create committees to make decisions about contributions or volunteer activities. Everyone in your business is your ambassador. Giving back starts at the top, but everyone in the company should be involved.  Community Engagement Teams; Matching Gifts Program; Dollars for Doers 4. Consider volunteerism. Allowing employees to volunteer in the community can be a win-win/win for your business. The nonprofit organizations win by getting the extra hands they need. Employees win by being able to spend time giving back to their community. Your business will enjoy the fruits of increased employee morale and higher retention rates.  Hands On Network for Corporate Volunteers, local Volunteer Councils, Big Brothers/Big Sisters; Habitat for Humanity; Community Gardens; Tutoring 5. Build for the future. One way to ensure the permanence of your corporate philanthropic presence in the community is by establishing an endowed corporate advised fund at your local Community Foundation. Through these funds, you can be assured that the community will be supported by your business forever.  Community Foundation of North Texas 6. Tell your stories. Let your customers and the community know about your charitable efforts. It helps your business and spreads the word about the causes important to you.  Highlight commitments in company communications vehicles (speeches, website, annual report, newsletter). Arrange Check Presentations and Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies to promote visibility, garner third-party endorsements. 7. Celebrate with your team. Everyone has worked hard to make a difference. Take time to celebrate.  Helps team bond over work accomplished, obstacles overcome, and brainstorm solutions for problems encountered. Provides connective tissue between community and work. Maintains momentum and increases likelihood of future engagement. 8. Have a plan. Once you have determined the type and structure for your corporate philanthropy, put your plan in writing and make it accessible to everyone in the company. 9. Join Forces. Maximize your impact by working collaboratively with like-minded businesses. 10. Talk to the kids. The latest research finds that when it comes to your kids and philanthropy, words are even more powerful than action. Talk to your family members about your investment in the community and why it matters. Provide opportunities for them to connect and contribute. This solidifies the legacy of your philanthropy in the business as well as your family.


For more information on National Giving Day:  

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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