Unconventional Thoughts | Nov 2021

Community Matters: Making an Impact by Giving Back as a Business

By: Amalie Zinsser | community director

On this Giving Tuesday the start of what some call the “Giving Season.” During this quarter’s Uncommon Conversation discussion, we challenged the idea of the “Giving Season” as giving lip service to community when our communities need – and deserve – our support all year long. I was joined by Joy Hoover, founder and former CEO of The Cupcake Girls, founder of soon-to-launch enterprise, Esōes Cosmetics, and Jen Taler, co-founder and creative strategist of Fergusons Downtown. We talked about how to decide what to support, why giving should happen year-round, how nonprofits can keep donors engaged, and how UnCommons bucks the trend of a single season of giving.

When setting up a corporate giving plan, it’s important to include your team in the planning. Start a conversation! What causes matter to employees? Are there current organizations that team members already donate their time and/or treasure to? Not everyone has the resources to have a building named after them or a fund in their name, but Hoover believes that everyone has a way to contribute. She lives by the motto: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do want you can.”

We urged attendees to expand the Giving Season to something that lasts throughout the year. Taler challenged the idea of the Giving Season by reminding attendees that the “why” a company wants to support a cause doesn’t change, so the level of support should remain consistent. As Hoover stated, many organizations and businesses would prefer to receive $100 each month than a one-time donation of $1,500 at the end of the year. The same goes for supporting local, small businesses. Many highlight Small Business Saturday two days after Thanksgiving but it’s important that we support these small and local businesses throughout the year.

One way Hoover suggested that nonprofits can engage supporters to contribute throughout the year is by showing the results. Many of us have received goodie bags, swag and T-shirts from causes that we support. At best, we wear these shirts to bed or reuse as rags around the house. At worst, they end up in a landfill. Hoover encourages nonprofits to engage donors by showcasing the work that’s being done and what their dollars are being used for, rather than spend funds on tchotchkes. Inviting donors to volunteer their time with the organization helps donors see the firsthand impact of their contribution and results in donation that are bigger or made more frequently.

We have taken Hoover’s motto to heart  at UnCommons, where we are now bringing together thought leaders to share ways we can all spread giving throughout the year. As an example, we give all team members one paid day off each month for a day of volunteerism.

We look forward to what we’ll learn during our next panel. Uncommon Conversations is a free-to-attend recurring panel discussion that encourages ambiguous, vulnerable and open dialogue celebrating differences and cultivating a shared human connection. If you missed the conversation and want to watch, see the full recording here, previous discussions on UnCommons’ blog here and be sure to stay tuned our social channels and monthly newsletter for our next Uncommon Conversation.