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Inspired by Meatballs

May 29, 2017


I recently had the pleasure of rolling meatballs alongside Hamilton donor, volunteer and champion Peter J. Van Dyk and a group of amazing corporate citizens at the YWCA for their “Be the Recipe for Change” meal program.


Peter asked me to join, gave me the details and I arrived on site with my cash donation in hand, put on my apron and went straight to meal prep. We laughed, we learned and then we served YWCA clients dinner. I walked away having made new friends, feeling inspired, motivated and grateful.


My question to our corporate partners is this: Do the experiences you have with charities leave you feeling that way?


And my question to our charitable partners & clients is this: What experiences are you offering to your stakeholders which leave them feeling this way?


Share with us, let us know what you do to create community; to inspire giving – giving of both time and financial support.


In a recent survey with our charitable partners we asked in which ways do they wish corporate partners supported them:


A. Cash Donations

B. Attending Events / Being Event Sponsors

C. Volunteering Time

D. All of the Above


The unanimous results came in with D – All of the Above. But what we know is this rarely happens.



Instead, corporations sponsor a hole at a golf tournament, donate a gift basket to the silent auction (sigh), maybe even buy a table to a gala and perhaps they sit on the planning committee or board and that’s that. To top it off corporations tend to do this, with so many charities they don’t have a chance to make a major impact.


As a fundraising event professional, I know fundraising events have value and those who support are appreciated; but I also understand these events are ONE fundraising and stewardship tool for organizations.


What corporations need to know and understand – like my friend Peter J. Van Dyk understands – is this:


A successful philanthropic relationship has a 3-prong approach.

Its one thing to buy a table to a fundraising gala (and don’t get me wrong this is an important piece for many organizations), but don’t stop there. We encourage you to support with philanthropic gifts (that’s cash with no marketing benefits), give your time and get involved.


Don’t Make Work

I should caution corporations on making work for charities – don’t come up with a program or volunteer project which the charity needs to create, rather ask them what you and your friends/co-workers can do for them.



Consider evaluating your charitable partnerships and limit the number you support. Instead of spreading your donations/time thin, chose to support a few (or even one) in a larger way. Do you want to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond? What impact do you want to have?


The Charities Role – Communication, Collaboration and Time (yikes)

It isn’t all on the corporate partner to figure this out. Charities we beg of you: Communicate your needs – in person I may add. Take the time (yes time) to understand what capacity a corporate partner has. Collaborate, identify a champion(s), and communicate how they can best support your organization.


If you need them to help you leverage their corporate contacts for financial support – say so. If you need them to pull their employees together to cook and serve food to your clients – let them know. If you need them to gather their friends and attend your fundraising event – ask.


The Infamous “Right Fit”

We know “The Right Fit” is a hard one to nail down. As a rule, we stress collaboration over control. Charities should not be at the mercy of the volunteer, donor, sponsor or overall partner.


Charities need to set better boundaries and invest the time in finding the right partners. Just like the YWCA has done with Peter J. Van Dyk – they found one of their champions and he is passionately working for them, exactly how they need him. And personally, I’m hooked. I loved my experience at the YWCA. I happily donated money (yes, they even asked for it), I rolled up my sleeves, I spent time away from my family, I gave back and it was worth it!


Are you Ready?

If your company is ready to evaluate your philanthropic partnerships we’d love to hear from you. Working with corporations to help them find the right charity partner(s), with fulfilling programs, creating the most impact in the community is an amazing part of our jobs!

And if your charity isn’t offering opportunities to give both time and money, call us so we can help get you on the right track, raising more money with an inspired group of corporate champions.


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