Don’t support your local non-profit …

… simply because they are local.

We support many non-profits in our region (and benefit corporations – but that discussion is for another time) and the fact that they are local is a significant factor but not the only consideration. We want to feel good about not only our giving but more importantly what outcomes are being realized by the organizations we support. We want to know that our money is being well spent and not lost in a “black hole” but, as businesspersons, we also have to look at other factors to be considered.

One of the top factors for us is that who we support is a component of our brand and our brand is much more valuable than the amount on a check we might write. We feel an obligation to our clients, staff, stakeholders and community to make good decisions on our giving and take this obligation seriously. As a result we spend considerable time and effort in researching, vetting and monitoring the prospects as we would any partner, investor or associate. How?

There are a number of rating organizations out there and while we do utilize their ratings in our research we do not depend on them. As we say at ARC Impact, “Every organization has it’s own fingerprint, it’s own personality, and it’s own purpose” so how we assess an organization is by asking a simple question – WHY?

WHY are YOU the best organization for us to partner with or recommend? We don’t want to hear only about the social purpose but WHY YOU? Feeding the hungry? A wonderful purpose but many organizations engage in that cause, so WHY YOU?

What are the answers that resonate best with us? Less about the organization, the infrastructure or prominence in their field and more about the measurable outcomes. Supporting this approach we often ask “How is the world a better place after you have delivered your product or service? What are the metrics you use to determine this and how have you performed against them?” This discussion cannot be limited to the social component of the organization and we will likely also ask the question from the business side, “How are you managing the business side to assure maximum performance and sustainability? Yes, we will then be looking for the business metrics and performance. No, we do not rely solely on statistics such as an efficiency rating but yes, this is a consideration.

Essential to us is that the organization has their own brand and that the social and business standards, objectives, metrics and performance support their brand. For us, when we feel comfortable that an organization has established their own fingerprint, personality and purpose and can back up their performance with facts and data, they are much more likely to get our support and maybe even more importantly, becoming ambassadors for their organization.

Yes, we place most of our investments into organizations within the communities in which we live and serve but we do support others as well.  This is our approach and we do not promote this as the template for all to follow. However, we strongly encourage all businesses to develop their own Corporate Citizenship model and take your social investing as serious as you would any other investment in your business.

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