A growing body of research shows that when companies turn their focus from short-term margins to investing in environmental, social and governance issues, they not only do good for society but also improve their financial performance. Boston Consulting Group, a management consultancy, has found that companies that do well in addressing societal problems have higher margins and valuations.
Daryl Brewster, CEO of the Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP) in New York, a CEO-led coalition that promotes corporate responsibility, said in a recent blog post that employee programs have gained importance as the national unemployment rate has dropped below 4% from 10% in 2009-10, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“If a company wants to attract and retain the best talent, it must put a focus on their needs,” Brewster said.
“Companies are doubling down on support and protection for employees in ways such as education, nonprofit fellowships, healthcare, pro bono sabbaticals, and more,” he wrote. Some like Google, the California-based technology giant, are taking it further, he added, by providing employees with the tools and support “to make a difference in the world.”
Building a Foundation by Finding the Talent
Building and maintaining a well functioning board of directors is critical to a nonprofit’s success. The board works collaboratively to fulfill fiduciary responsibilities for the organization–ensuring the organization’s mission is carried out in compliance with state and federal regulations, and the organization’s bylaws.
In addition, individuals serving on the board provide specific skill sets, such as finance or communications expertise, to match the needs of the organization. They are also often called upon to help the organization build relationships and facilitate solicitations.
The chair of the board leads the group. She or he sets goals and objectives for the board, ensures targets are met, and that all of the directors are assigned to a committee. Additionally, she or he typically works most closely with the executive director or chief executive operating officer.
BoardSource, a globally recognized nonprofit board leadership resource tool notes the collaborative relationship between a board chair and the executive director or CEO is an important component of establishing consistent governance for an organization with a shared, mission-driven purpose.
That model of collaboration has been a success for retired principal and educator Judi Winch, who followed her passion for helping children and now serves as the executive director for Food Brings Hope.
The Volusia-based nonprofit reaches 37 schools in Volusia and Flagler counties with food, tutoring, mentoring, after-school and cultural activities.
Recruited nearly five years ago by the organization’s founder and board chair, Forough Hosseini, Executive Vice President of Information Systems for ICI Homes, Winch works closely with Hosseini to carry out the vision and mission of helping children.
“I needed to learn what her mission was and what direction she wanted to go,” said Winch. “It’s amazing because she is such a giving person, and such a business person, that she can make it work. She’s a phenomenal woman who wants to help.”
Supporting the mission and vision is the responsibility of the board of directors, and Winch says board members have discovered more than an interest but a passion for the nonprofit while sharing their resources and talent with the organization.
“They’re not all business owners but they’re in a position that they offer opportunities for our children,” she said. “Everybody comes with a different talent that’s necessary to make an organization, especially a non-profit organization, work.”
Creating that perfect mix of synergy has been of great benefit to Volusia-based nonprofit Duvall Homes according to Lisa Habermehl, Director of Marketing and Special Projects. Their organization has provided residential supportive care and day training for people with developmental disabilities since 1945, and Habermehl gave insight to their operations and the success of their fundraising.
“Every member of the Duvall team, from our support staff to our executive team and board of regents, are community advocates and key players to our longevity and success. We couldn’t attract competent board members and committed sponsors if we weren’t good stewards of their time and financial support,” she said.
Habermehl gives credit to Duvall’s Chief Executive Officer, Steven DeVane, and Chief Marketing & Development Officer, Elizabeth Bhimjee, for recognizing talented individuals who will help serve and strengthen their mission.
“Both appreciate how board members facilitate introductions to help build new relationships and new partnerships. And when your work and messaging is consistent, authentic and sincere, the work of finding effective board members comes easier, whether they’re retired professionals, active executives or just passionate citizens.”
Branching Out – Volunteers with Time
Sustaining a non-profit requires people willing to step up and step in when needed, with no monetary compensation, simply because they feel connected to a specific cause.
The Halifax Humane Society is one of the organizations that tug at the heartstrings of the community and appreciates the support of volunteers to help with projects. They get a helping hand from teams representing businesses around Volusia County who are looking to engage and provide a community service. In fact, in 2018 volunteers provided over 85,000 service hours to the organization. When multiplied by the IRS volunteer rate of $25.43, it represents $2,161,550 in savings.
Barry Kukes, community outreach director for the Halifax Humane Society says the animal shelter is grateful for the teams of volunteers from CarMax that come to help with chores like installing posts in the dog run area to create canopied shade or helping with outdoor work. The shelter is also thankful for the Teledyne Marine volunteers who walk the smaller dogs, with supervision, and help collect food for the animals.
“They’re pretty open about doing anything we have available, and they’re always a big help,” said Kukes.
“It’s something new and fresh, so they enjoy doing it, and always do it with a smile on their face,” said Kukes.
Tiffany Jolley, human resources generalist at Teledyne says employees enjoy helping when the Halifax Humane Society asks, springing into action to provide needed supplies and foster care for animals at the shelter, creating a win-win situation.
“Here at Teledyne we make great efforts to be involved with our local community,” said Jolley. “Over the years, we have built a very strong relationship with the Halifax Humane Society with donations as well as supporting their goals of helping animals in need.”
“Providing the necessary resources to the Humane Society allows them to make benefits available to our community with pet adoptions, obedience classes, spay/neutering of pets that may not have been adopted at their facility.”
“We believe that it is our corporate social responsibility to be an advocate for local non-profit organizations, especially supporting the Humane Society’s goals of helping each and every healthy, adoptable pet find a fur-ever home,” she said.
The Big Ask – Share Your Treasure
The final piece of the puzzle is funding – which may come in the form of grants, donations or in-kind contributions from a variety of sources, including the business community. They are an important part of a non-profit’s ability to fund operations, take on capital projects, start a needed program or create an awareness campaign for their mission.
Halifax Humane Society recently unveiled their three year, $3.6 million renovation to the main campus and shares how important “The Big Ask” is to success.
Major donors, such as PetSmart Charities, PetCo Foundation, the Lohman family, Cunningham Oil, and Florida Power & Light, have contributed to the building’s capital campaign, and Barry Kukes says that while it can be intimidating to ask, when the pitch and goals are clear, donors are willing to contribute.
“You lay out the plan of what you want to do and you present it to your donors and supporters,” said Kukes. “They look at it and if it makes sense, they’ll step up. That’s the reason people are generous in donating, because they see results,” he said.
Did You Know?
According to BoardSource.org, there is no difference between a board of governors, a board of directors and a board of trustees.
Legally and in practice, all of these definitions describe the same governing body of a nonprofit. The term “trustee” originally referred to the person who has the fiduciary duty for a charitable trust or a foundation. By tradition, higher education institutions also tend to refer to their board members as trustees.