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Give Your Dear Mother (Earth) a Gift on Her Special Day

Earth day heart process s300x300Every day should be Earth Day.

That said, the official Earth Day celebration takes place once a year, an occasion when over a billion people in 190 countries take action, whether in the form of planting trees, cleaning up their communities, or doing anything else that says “I love you” to the environment.

This time of year, corporate philanthropy leaders often look for ways to shine a spotlight on their companies’ efforts at greening the planet.  Dayton Hudson Corporation, now better known as Target, got the ball rolling on this front by giving out free trees to its customers on the very first Earth Day in 1970.  Ever since, business leaders have increasingly fired up their entire organizations in creative ways to demonstrate concern for Mother Earth.

Earth Day 2014 is themed around the vision of “Green Cities,” with an emphasis on creating sustainable communities in increasingly crowded urban environments.  As defined by the Earth Day Network, a green city is one that derives its energy from renewable sources like solar and wind, and distributes that energy through efficient and reliable microgrids; has the cleanest and most efficient energy, transportation, ...

Give Mother Earth the Best Gift on Her Special Day

Earth day heart process s300x300Every day should be Earth Day.

That said, the official Earth Day celebration takes place once a year, an occasion when over a billion people in 190 countries take action, whether in the form of planting trees, cleaning up their communities, or doing anything else that says “I love you” to the environment.

This time of year, corporate philanthropy leaders often look for ways to shine a spotlight on their companies’ efforts at greening the universe.  Dayton Hudson Corporation, now better known as Target, got the ball rolling on this front by giving out free trees to its customers on the very first Earth Day in 1970.  Ever since, businesses have tried to get creative at honoring Mother Earth’s special day.

Earth Day 2014 is themed around the vision of “Green Cities,” with an emphasis on creating sustainable communities in increasingly crowded urban environments.  As defined by the Earth Day Network, a green city is one that derives its energy from renewable sources like solar and wind, and distributes that energy through efficient and reliable microgrids; has the cleanest and most efficient energy, transportation, and building infrastructure possible; is made up ...

Breaking Down the Benefits of Gifts In Kind

describe the imageIn kind giving is the low hanging fruit of corporate philanthropy, an excellent way for business leaders to give back by leveraging their corporate strengths and assets.  It can be an easy lift for companies, with the reward of a nice tax deduction accompanying the significant impact in one’s community or across the world (in the case of donating materials to assist with global disasters, for example).  Not to mention increased employee engagement, recruitment, retention and the plain ol’ good karma of responsible corporate citizenship.

The IRS regulations when it comes to gifts in kind can be confusing.  But they’re well worth leveraging.  As noted by Brian Mittendorf, Professor of Accounting and MIS at The Ohio State University Fisher School of Business, “The IRS rules are such that a company is likely to see greater tax benefits from donating inventory than from donating cash.”

With that in mind, here are a few rules of the road:

  • To qualify for a tax deduction, donations must go to nonprofits that are listed as 501(c)(3) organizations and be a public charity or private operating foundation.  

  • If your business is a sole ...

Magic Hour for Causes

Happy 40th, National Volunteer Week.       

Endorsed and supported by President Obama, Congress and other national and state leaders, National Volunteer Week kicked off on April 6th this year and winds down on April 12th, with thousands of volunteer projects and special events having taken place throughout the week.  The President called upon all Americans to observe this week by volunteering in service projects across our country and pledging to make service a part of their daily lives.  

Real Business Philanthropy Starts with Real Stories

storytelling here signStorytelling is a hot marketing buzzword these days, and for good reason; in the business world, it’s the newest form of smart corporate communications.  Telling your story is imperative for many aspects of business, and a particularly important practice when it comes to strategic philanthropy.

Kinds of Giving In Kind

describe the imageIn kind giving is the low hanging fruit of corporate philanthropy (check out my past blog on this point), an excellent way for business leaders to give back by leveraging their company’s strengths and assets.  It can be an easy lift for companies, with the reward of a nice tax deduction accompanying the significant impact in one’s community or across the world (in the case of donating materials to assist with global disasters, for example).  Not to mention increased employee engagement, recruitment, retention and the plain ol’ good karma of responsible corporate citizenship.

The IRS regulations when it comes to in kind donations can be confusing.  But they’re well worth leveraging.  As noted by Brian Mittendorf, Professor of Accounting and MIS at The Ohio State University Fisher School of Business, “The IRS rules are such that a company is likely to see greater tax benefits from donating inventory than from donating cash.”

With that in mind, here are a few rules of the road:

  • To qualify for a tax deduction, donations must go to nonprofits that are listed as 501(c)(3) organizations and be a public charity or private operating foundation.  

  • ...

Mind the Gap: a Tragic Waste of Talent

MindTheGapRecently, I was chatting with a close friend who holds a senior position at a Fortune 50 company.  This is someone who is utterly driven, obsessed with work and defined in large part by his professional life, rarely slowing down to catch his breath.  But a back injury had forced him to slow down.  In fact, the injury was significant enough that he’d been compelled to take a medical leave for a couple of months.  

The Power of Gifts In Kind

in kind givingEvery kind of giving is valuable when it comes to corporate philanthropy, but one kind to keep in mind is gifts in-kind.  Contributions of goods and services, as opposed to cash grants, can provide an ideal opportunity for both the contributing company and the recipient nonprofit, enabling a donating company to be more generous than it might have been otherwise.  

Whether it is delivered in the forms of goods, services or expertise, in-kind giving can be more recession-proof than cash gifts.  If your company’s philanthropy budgets are tight, in-kind gifts may offer a more accessible giving pathway that allows your organization to flourish at giving back regardless of last quarter’s numbers.  

This is because many in-kind donations are tax deductible.  Although there’s no single formula that can determine the value of donated goods, the IRS’s Publication 561 is a guide to determining the fair market value (FMV) of donated property.  The FMV is the agreed-upon price that the property would sell for on the open market between a willing buyer and seller. So, for example, technology organizations that use the nonprofit channel TechSoup to offer their ...

The Power of Giving In-Kind

in kind givingEvery kind of giving is valuable when it comes to corporate philanthropy, but one kind to keep in mind is in-kind.  Contributions of goods and services, as opposed to cash grants, can provide an ideal opportunity for both the contributing company and the recipient nonprofit, enabling a donating company to be more generous than it might have been otherwise.  

Whether it is delivered in the forms of goods, services or expertise, in-kind giving can be more recession-proof than cash gifts.  If your company’s philanthropy budgets are tight, in-kind gifts may offer a more accessible giving pathway that allows your organization to flourish at giving back regardless of last quarter’s numbers.  

This is because many in-kind donations are tax deductible.  Although there’s no single formula that can determine the value of donated goods, the IRS’s Publication 561 is a guide to determining the fair market value (FMV) of donated property.  The FMV, which is the amount that that is tax deductible, is the agreed-upon price that the property would sell for on the open market between a willing buyer and seller.  So, for example, technology organizations that ...

5 Habits of Companies that Rock at Giving Back

Heart shaped Arts   Heart shaped lights   Heart shaped architecture   Lights on a building   SkylineAs corporate volunteering and giving programs become increasingly prominent at companies across the country, best practices are shaped by the leaders of the pack.  So which companies are paving the way at community engagement right now, and what’s their secret?

A recent report unveiled a list of the 50 most community-minded corporations, as well as the common characteristics of their engagement activities.  The findings were gathered by Civic 50, a national initiative to survey and rank S&P 500 corporations on how they engage with the communities they serve and institutionalize these practices in their corporate cultures.

The report affirms the important role that companies play when it comes to generating community impact.  And it concludes that impact doesn’t come from checkbooks alone (although certainly, corporate giving helps).  Rather, companies harness their power most effectively when they contribute the expertise and resources of their businesses and employees.  And the best way to fuel this kind of company-wide involvement is by cultivating a culture of civic engagement, which comes most easily when companies carefully match their ...