Jeff Faue and his employees at Fauecast Management Consulting hear it all the time. No matter where they turn, someone, from some group or cause, is asking for money.
“They are all good causes,” Faue says. “So should a business just hand out $50 to everyone who asks, or should they try to get a little more bang for their buck?” The question is difficult enough for individuals; it’s even harder for businesses.
Whether you are a large corporation or a small business, what you give and how you give it affects your company’s reputation in the community, says Katherine Kish, a marketing expert who has recently formed a new consulting practice to help corporations decide where and when to spend their charitable dollars.
Based in Cranbury, Design for Giving (609-799-8898) is a collaborative effort by Kish, Faue, and Susan Caruso Green, a fund raising consultant. The venture is a second business for each of the three principals.
Kish is president of Market Entry, Inc., a strategic marketing and business development firm founded in 1982. Her firm’s clients include universities, professional practices, electronic and software firms, and publishing houses. Before founding Market Entry, she was a marketing, sales, and strategic planning executive in Fortune 500 broadcasting, publishing, and information service firms. In addition, she has donated her time for many years to a wide variety of not-for-profit organizations, including Einstein’s Alley, the American Conference on Diversity, the Girl Scouts, and the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Kish and Faue began to develop the concept for Design for Giving soon after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“So many people were giving, and there were so many ways to give. A company could donate corporate money, it could match money from employee contributions, it could pay employees who wanted to donate time, explains Faue. “We began to wonder just how businesses decided what they should give.”
He and Kish developed a survey that they sent to several hundred businesses, from major corporations to small firms. The answers they got back, says Faue, showed that most businesses not only had no overall strategy or philosophy to guide how they chose which organizations should receive their money, but no budget for charitable donations. The most common practice was to give a little money here and there to whomever asked.
As the survey results came in, Kish and Faue began to see a way in which they could help companies develop better corporate giving plans.
“We act as consultants who come into a company to look at the entire situation objectively and offer a prescription,” says Kish. Once a company has established goals, Design for Giving can also help to match it with appropriate not-for-profit groups. And though the company is in its infancy — “Including developing a business plan, we are only about six months old” — Design for Giving has reached out to at least four organizations it hopes to partner with on a wide variety of services, from surveys to grant writing, she says.
Why should a corporation have a plan for charitable giving?
Faue is president of Fauecast Management Consulting in New Brunswick (908-359-3686 or www.fauecast.com). The firm provides outsourced human resource management focusing on “troubled employees, work groups, sites, organizations and family owned business.” Faue holds an MSW and a PhD in social policy from Rutgers University and a master’s in divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. His firm works not only with a wide variety of for-profit companies, but with not-for-profit agencies as well.
One reason is that it gives you a polite way to refuse a donation, says Susan Green.
“More and more companies are beginning to structure their giving to be in alignment with what they do,” she explains. For example, a pharmaceutical company may choose to focus its giving on medical research, while a local bank may target agencies that help to develop local employment or improve local housing.
Green has been active in the fields of corporate philanthropy and non-profit organization fundraising for over 26 years. She is the former director of corporate contributions for Citigroup’s retail banking system and former executive director of Cityarts Workshop. She is the president of the Cranford Fund for Educational Excellence and a member of the Foundation Center’s Fundraising Consultants Network and the NonProfit Consultants Collaborative. She is president of the Resource Development Network LLC, a Cranford and New York-based fundraising consulting firm specializing in grant proposal writing, and is also CEO of Nonprofit Central NY/NJ, www.NpoCentral.net, a website that connects the leaders of nonprofit organizations with consultants.
You don’t have to be a major corporation to develop a structured giving plan, says Green. Even smaller businesses are asked regularly to support a softball team, a high school fundraising effort, or the Y.
Design for Giving suggests several ways to help a company structure its giving plans.
Look at the Past. Examine what charitable organizations your company has given to in the past year and get an idea of exactly where your current contributions are going. Is there a trend or theme to which organizations you choose to give to?
Ask Your Employees. Survey your employees about their interests and attitudes. Developing a strategy that takes their interests into account will increase employee goodwill.
“Today’s employees don’t stay with a company as long as they did in the past,” says Kish. “If an employee feels good about the company they are working for they are more likely to stay with that company longer.” After all, it takes money to train employees. Encouraging them to stay saves money in the long run.
Think About Your Image. Does your charitable giving raise the image of your company in the community? You don’t have to send out a press release every time you make a donation for it to become known in the community. In fact, the word spreads even faster about companies that don’t give to local charities, says Faue.
“We’ve all been in a meeting and when the subject comes about certain companies, the word is, ‘They just don’t give,’” he says. It may not seem like a big deal, he adds, but that type of word of mouth hurts a company.
Once you have criteria in place you not only have guidelines for where to give, but a polite and reasonable way to say no. “If someone is asking for a donation that is not in line with your guidelines,” says Green, “you have an objective way to say no.”
—Karen Hodges Miller
Stone’s Throw is a company that has done more than focus on a charitable giving plan. Its founders, Deanne Napurano and Janice Mondoker, have created a special fundraising project to both raise money and bring more awareness to their own special cause: helping homeless and abandoned animals.
Napurano and Mondoker have a passion for animals. In the more than 20 years they have known each other they have both donated time, money, and support to local and national animal shelters and humane societies. They have also adopted their share of homeless pets.
“Our interest in reducing pet homelessness often showed up in the studio — literally,” says Mondoker, who is the designer half of the pair’s Cranbury-based marketing company, Stone’s Throw (www.stonesthrowaway.com, or 609-395-0650). “We sometimes had abandoned feral kittens underfoot while we worked, handling them, nurturing them, finding them permanent homes.”
Stone’s Throw specializes in problem-solving creativity for a company’s communications, and Mondoker and Napurano have used their creative skills to focus their own company’s charitable giving on homeless pets.
The process has been several years in development, says Mondoker. A few years ago they began to feature a photograph of a rescued pet on the custom holiday greeting cards they sent to their clients, and instead of giving gifts, they gave donations to national pet rescue and human organizations in their clients’ names.
But this year they decided to do more, and created a special project, Morgan Cards, that they hope will raise additional funds for animal shelters as well as create more public awareness of the problem.
“We’ve been dreaming about Morgan Cards for most of our lives,” says Mondoker. Before co-founding Stone’s Throw, she worked as a graphic designer for several large advertising and marketing companies, including MED Communications, QLM Associates, Princeton Direct, JK Design, and the Gillespie Group. She holds a degree in marketing art and design from Middlesex County College and has studied at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and at Rutgers.
While the plan to create a special fundraising effort for homeless animals has been in the back of their minds for years, it took a life-changing event to bring that dream to reality. Mondoker’s partner, Napurano, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. Coming up with a concrete plan was the perfect thing for her to focus on while she was recovering, says Mondoker.
Napurano was a senior copywriter for CIBA-GEIGY’s in-house advertising agency before co-founding Stone’s Throw. She received her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from Drew University. The cards seemed an obvious choice given the partners’ background in design and marketing. And they had the perfect candidate for their first card: Morgan, a dog that Napurano had adopted following 9/11.
Morgan, a terrier mix, had suffered abuse even before the events of 9/11, when he was found on the streets of New York City. “He was missing two vertebrae and his tail and had a spinal cord injury that left him incontinent,” says Mondoker. He needed “doggie diapers,” but his endearing personality won their hearts.
“The shelters were overflowing with abandoned, lost, and disconnected pets in the weeks following September 11,” says Mondoker. Because of his incontinence, Morgan was considered unadoptable and been placed on the short list for euthanasia when a small New Jersey rescue group found him.
When Napurano adopted him, “he became our company mascot. We featured him on our holiday card and website with a short note about reducing pet homelessness,” says Mondoker. “Client reaction was wonderful. Clients began calling and E-mailing to say they loved the card. They asked about how they could catch the stray cat that was having kittens in their backyard. They asked where they could find rescued animals.”
Morgan only lived for a little over a year after he was adopted, “but he taught us both a lot about compassion and tolerance,” says Mondoker. Morgan’s photo is on the first of a series of four “Morgan Cards” the pair has produced. The cards are available at www.morgancards.com. All proceeds will be donated to organizations devoted to homeless animals.
Organizing the Effort. Mondoker and Napurano have kept the structure of their fundraising as simple as possible. Rather than organizing as a not-for-profit, “right now we just call it a fundraising effort,” says Mondoker. But they are in the process of obtaining a trademark for the name.
Funding the Project. The partners printed 2,500 sets of four cards each, along with envelopes. They’ve kept the project small and the only other major expense has been the cost of their website. “Altogether we’ve spent about $4,000 on the project so far,” says Mondoker.
Making a Profit. It takes time to make a profit, and so far, Mondoker and Napurano have yet to meet their initial expenses. The cards only became available in August, and so far have been sold strictly through the website or at local festivals. They’ve made about $2,000 so far. But they say they feel they have already been well-paid in the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping a cause they believe in and plan to donate about $1,000 this year to local pet shelters and humane societies. — Karen Hodges Miller
Next Gen eration Philanthropists
Take a kid and a sport and a unit of time, quantity, or distance. Add the kid’s desire to raise money for a charity, and parents who are ready to support him. What you get, says Robert Frank of Frank Advertising on Route 571, is a template for how non-profit organizations can tap the energies of school-age children and groom them to be non-profit entrepreneurs.
Last year Frank and his wife, Mindy, challenged their 10-year-old son Brandon.
“Just prior to the holidays, we decided we wanted to instill values of helping others and helping people in the community,” says Frank. “We wanted him to know that everyone needs to do their part, and it’s never too young to start.”
Charity-sponsored walk-a-thons and dance-a-thons — where the participants solicit pledges from friends, family, and businesses for miles walked and hours danced — are nothing new. But in this case, Frank helped his son create his own event based on his two chief interests: swimming and building things.
In 2006, Brandon rounded up pledges for how many laps he could swim in a week and used the money to buy books for HomeFront (he did 102 laps and bought 120 books). This year the fifth-grader at Princeton Montessori School has gone corporate. He enlisted a teammate, Joey Jingoli, whose father, Michael Jingoli, is involved in the family construction business on Princeton Pike. The boys swam a combined 400 laps over five days and raised $2,500. They will be purchasing 350 to 400 books. Their original goals were $1,500 and 250 books. They will be purchasing the books at Barnes & Noble this Thursday, December 13, at 4:30p.m.
It helps that Brandon’s parents are in the marketing business. Frank Advertising (formerly Thacker & Frank) designed the logo (HomeFront BookSplash 07) for the T-shirts, and it was Brandon’s idea to get that made into a stamp to put in each book.
Frank Gambatese, general manager at Lowe’s, donated the paint, the wood, and the space. Under supervision at Lowe’s, the boys built the bookcase and attracted additional donations by raffling off gift certificates from Panera Bread and Wegman’s.
Cash donations for books came from JM Group, owner of Witherspoon Grill and Nassau Seafood, Small World Coffee, Light Gallery, Coldwell Banker, Mayflower Cleaners, among others.
Though the parents provide the transportation, the child must be the point person. “I have not called up one company for a donation,” says Frank. “It is important that he is the one to do the asking.”
It’s also more effective. Who can resist the asking child? The school groups and scouting groups know that. Here is a chance for charities to encourage children to learn business skills as well.