Through many faiths and cultures, Spring is a season to recognize transformation and new beginnings. In front of our very eyes, the world sheds its winter coat and changes into a riot of colors. Each brightly colored blossom seems determined to outshine its neighbor, as if the whole of the outdoors was a classroom of eager young students hoping to be called upon by the teacher.
The flowers and blooming trees aren’t the only ones competing for attention these days. In our own work, we know that non-profit organizations are also competing in a crowded and transforming world for the attention of donors. The economic downturn of the past two years provided a long winter for non-profits, with total charitable giving falling by 3.6% in 2009. But, within the gloom and gray data is a hint of spring for organizations willing to embrace transformation: corporate giving as a subset of total contributions actually increased by 5.5% during the same year.
There is opportunity and challenge in transformation. While companies are giving to fewer charities overall, they are increasing their participation in organizations that can demonstrate a solid connection to the company’s values and are able to show measurable results.
I believe that, more than ever, both individuals and companies are searching for more meaning and sustainability in what they give their time and treasures to- a trend that is causing non-profit organizations to become even more accountable and focused. If you read last week’s blog posts here on the importance of measuring social media activity, you will recognize a familiar refrain this week, too. Corporate giving is becoming more mature, more intense, more soulful and more focused. The days of “carefree” giving to anything and everything are fading away, with businesses choosing to pinpoint their contributions to reflect what they truly believe in and what will generate the best return on investment for their community or cause.
This week, we’ll be focusing the Ackermann Experience on this transformation in corporate giving. I’ll post this week on the “new philanthropic reality” and how non-profits can prepare to move from the clouds of winter to a spotlight in the spring sunshine. Also, Jeff Hooper, our chief strategy officer, will share thoughts on how non-profits are using interactive tools and social media to help manage this transformation.
I look forward to the discussion.