Philanthropy is the “Love of Humankind” … a desire to contribute to the welfare of others and help to create a better world. Philanthropy evokes images of the Rockefellers, The Gates Foundation and those names on the PBS screen – very wealthy people sharing their millions around the globe. We are thankful for those who have plenty, and share their resources for the good of others.
ʻTis The Season
We believe philanthropy is accessible for everyone, and this time of year reminders are everywhere. Itʼs Giving Season, Giving Tuesday, Give to the Max Day and the bellringers with their red buckets are everywhere! In December, our thoughts turn to generosity and the statistics prove us right. Twenty percent of all giving occurs in the final weeks of the year, with the bulk of it happening in the last seven days! Clearly, people feel a sense of urgency while doing their last-minute shopping and entertaining, and maybe ensuring they get the tax deduction in under the wire (more about that later).
Did you know that 2020 was a record year for charitable giving? In the height of a pandemic, donations increased 20 percent, making it a record year for charities. This is part of a four-year upward trend in giving and experts believe it will continue in the future despite predictions for economic challenges next year.
Know Your Members
Credit union leaders – you know your members are givers, and you see how organizations benefit from the generosity of people in your communities. Because you know your members, they know you care about their financial wellness on a personal level. If a member is in financial straits or enduring a tough time, credit unions offer programs to help if they miss a payment commitment. Itʼs personal.
As their chosen financial institution, you play a role in what is important to them. One of the ways to do that is to connect members with nonprofit organizations in your community and actively participate in their giving campaigns. At this time of year, we focus a lot on charities like food shelves, homeless shelters and medical research. The past couple of years, we have seen a strain on our social services systems where first responders and caregivers were affected in ways we never thought possible.
People make charity decisions based on personal experiences – a family member who spent their last days in hospice or a military veteran who receives a new home. Credit unions can make it personal for their members by using data analytics to pinpoint where their members give so generously. Itʼs part of your financial wellness commitment to members so they continue to prosper during challenging times.
We alluded to tax advantages earlier and we believe the ability to take a tax deduction for donations to nonprofits is a factor in charitable giving objectives and goals. By playing a key role in educating your members about the value of charitable giving you show them how giving back to your community is part of your financial strategy, too. As always, consult a tax professional with any questions you may have about IRS rules.
Role of Social Media
In todayʼs online world, the role of social media in influencing peoplesʼ opinions and actions must be acknowledged. Nonprofits are doing an excellent job of telling their stories in a compelling way and that kind of outreach is working for them. It enhances overall awareness of their cause and makes it easy to spread the news. The likes, emojis and shares of social media posts multiplies the nonprofitʼs reach and brings new eyes to their work. Credit unions should be a part of promoting the favorite charities of their members – show them you care about the causes they care about and let them know you participate with them in giving.
New Year, New Plans
Letʼs look at how things might shape up in the new year and what you might plan to do in support of your membersʼ financial well-being. Look at your refreshed budget for 2023 and determine what portion of it you would like to designate for charitable grants in your community. Itʼs a good time to find ways to invigorate charitable giving and adding gi-matching campaigns is a sound strategy.
Gi matches are a great way to participate – and play an active role – with your members to renew income streams for the nonprofits where they give. It augments the Know Your Members philosophy because you learn their favorite causes. Itʼs personal. Matching gis also serve to remind members how community-minded you are and how much you appreciate their business.
Share the Joy Year-Round
Once youʼve established your matching campaign(s), think about the third element of the Know Your Member strategy. Giving Season is great and matching campaigns will spur giving during the winter doldrums, but sustained giving is better for nonprofits and for donors. Why save the good cheer until December? Year-round giving is better for credit unions too! It serves as a monthly reminder of the good you do in your community. Supporting nonprofit organizations and partnering with them to create recurring revenue streams is the best way to keep the good news stories going all year. They value your commitment and the shared brand recognition you bring into public view.
An ongoing partnership with a community organization benefits you, your members and nonprofits by increasing awareness, providing education and building cash flow opportunities. Your credit union can make a big impact all year round and show your members how much you love being a part of their community.