Non-Profit Tech Insight: IT Support for Social Impact

Discover the intersection of technology and social impact in our exclusive category, "Non-Profit Tech Insight: IT Support for Social Impact." Dive into articles illuminating IT's role in driving social change, a valuable resource for nonprofits, IT professionals, and advocates of technology for social good.

Case Studies in CSR: Wells Fargo Donates $500,000 in Grants to Help the Homeless

Wells Fargo Logo

Wells Fargo & Company announced earlier this year that they will be providing a sum of $500,000 to two nonprofit organizations, The Road Home and The Community Foundation of Utah. Both of these nonprofits are dedicated to assisting the homeless in Salt Lake City.

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B Labs: B the Change

B Lab Logo

B Lab, the nonprofit behind B Corps, believes there is a different framework for success in business—the organization encourages businesses to be the best for the world, rather than merely the best in their respective industries. The nonprofit created the B Corporation certification, and awards for-profits this title if they demonstrate committed vows to transparency, accountability, sustainability, and performance.

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Verizon Hosts Challenge to Inspire Students to Change Lives Through App Building

The Verizon Innovative Challenge

For the fourth year in a row, Verizon will be holding The Verizon Innovative Challenge, a contest for students interested in creating their very own problem-solving apps. For this challenge, middle and high school students living in the U.S. will join collaborative teams, generate innovative ideas, and build concepts for mobile apps. Their ideas for these apps must attempt to solve real world issues their schools and communities face. Absolutely no coding experience is necessary to participate.

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TED Talks CSR Inspiration: “The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong” by Dan Pallotta

TED Logo

Dan Pallotta's informative TED Talk, "The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong," illuminates how everything people have been taught about charitable giving is dysfunctional.

Whereas for-profit sectors are applauded for risk-taking, aggressive marketing, and capital and financial incentives, the nonprofit sector is "stuck" begging for money and handouts. Too many nonprofits, he argues, are rewarded for how little they spend—not for what they accomplish.

"We have two rulebooks," Pallota says. "We have one for the nonprofit sector and one for the rest of the economic world."

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The Giva Challenge: Giva Customers are Talking! Saint Elizabeth Health Care

With today's mobile workforce, the ability to access answers to important questions quickly is a must. Meghan M. Biro at Forbes says there is a "need to maintain a corporate culture supportive of - and with technical and communications systems in place - to enable remote employees to be successful."

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The Giva Challenge: Giva Customers are Talking! Miles & Stockbridge

Working around-the-clock to meet a client's needs is what a great attorney does. If that clock is slowed down in any way it costs extra money. Miles & Stockbridge P.C. has enjoyed a rich history of well-planned growth, enduring client relationships and loyal community leadership for over 80 years. They support approximately 500 employees in 8 offices across the east coast of the USA. "Since we are providing IT technical support to attorneys that work around-the-clock, we needed a solution that could be accessible anywhere and anytime by our staff. Our attorneys' time is our 'stock in trade', so we must keep the firm up and running and highly productive on a large number of applications and various hardware platforms in order to generate revenue." (Ken Adams, Chief Information Officer) They were spending a lot of time and money on managing and maintaining servers and software to host their previous application.

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The Giva Challenge: Customers are Talking! Santé Health System

Bedside doctors of old were sure to have a reputation in the local community. That reputation was determined by qualities that still exist in our current fast-paced world. Today, delivering the highest quality health care is as important now as it has ever been. According to Leonard S. Feldman, assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, "Basic things make a difference in patient outcomes and they're not being done to the extent they should be." Just as it is for doctors, great customer service should be top priority for businesses. Giva customer Santé Health System understands this and endeavors to make certain that their customers in the medical field are satisfied.

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Context-Focused Giving, Part 2

Business & Communities Philanthropic Partners

In part 1, we introduced context-focused giving as corporate philanthropy and strategy combining to achieve both social and economic gains, examining how this can be done by analyzing various factors, based on the Harvard Business Review publication, "The Competitive Advantage of Corporate Philanthropy," by Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer, last time including factor conditions and demand conditions. Here, we continue on with the other two elements: context for strategy and rivalry and related and supporting industries.

Context for strategy and rivalry has to do with the rules of business engagement in which a company operates. A context-focused giving strategy that works to open local markets to trade, that is governed by policies that reward fair competition and deter corruption, has a clear and widespread social impact that benefits communities and citizens as well as the economic benefit of operating in an amenable business environment. Twenty-six U.S. corporations have engaged in giving targeted toward improving their context for strategy and rivalry by joining forces with Transparency International in their fight to end corruption and create an intersection of business, government and society that places a high value on transparency and accountability. Their work and corporate partnerships has a significant and far-reaching impact on society and the economy.

Companies rely on other related and supporting industries to operate. Philanthropy that is focused on generating benefits and improvements for related businesses or local suppliers allows for corporate growth and partnership opportunities, along with a better use of time and resources: "Proximity enhances responsiveness, exchange of information, and innovation, in addition to lowering transportation and inventory costs" (Porter and Kramer, 5). American Express has used context-focused giving to identify the travel industry as an important related industry where efforts and resources could be used to generate social benefits and economic gains for American Express. They have provided significant funding to Travel and Tourism Academies that train students for careers with travel-related companies such as airlines, hotels, and restaurants. Their program has improved educational and job opportunities for people in communities served, as well as a competitive advantage for local travel clusters. Because American Express relies heavily on travel-spending, their global brand is also a part of local travel clusters, and they have a stake in these clusters' success.

Shifting your corporate giving strategy to context-focused giving is a rigorous process that should seek and consider input from management throughout your company in identifying a corporate giving strategy aimed toward improving competitive context. One question to ask when examining your company's competitive context is, "What constraints, tangible or intangible, prevent or limit our productivity and growth?" The more specific you can get when identifying areas for improved context, the better foundation you will have for beginning to research, plan and implement a successful context-focused giving strategy. Porter and Kramer stress the importance of rigorously tracking and recording the results of your initiative, both socially and economically, to provide a framework for creating evidence-based improvements and modifications in your initiative. They also encourage forming partnerships with other stakeholders, the benefits of collective action being enhanced efficacy and shared costs.

Businesses thrive from good strategy; there is no reason why the extensive research and planning that goes into other areas of corporate strategy should not be applied to corporate philanthropy. Corporations have more financial and intellectual resources than most non-profits that can provide unique perspectives and solutions to societal issues. Corporate Social Responsibility does not have to be separate from Corporate Strategy; context-focused giving is a framework for developing philanthropic initiatives with clear social and economic benefits.

Context-Focused Giving, Part 1

Business & Communities Philanthropic Partners

Context-focused giving is a method through which corporate philanthropy and strategy are combined to achieve both social and economic gains. The basic idea behind context-focused giving is giving that benefits the environment in which a company operates and, thus, that company's competitive advantage. More specifically, context-focused giving considers the contextual conditions most important to a company’s strategies and industry, and targets their philanthropy toward improving one of these contexts so that the community and the company both reap rewards from the efforts. When companies are able to clearly identify how their philanthropic initiatives are not only creating good for society, but also for the company, charitable expenditures will not suffer from lack of justification in terms of bottom-line benefit.

In their Harvard Business Review publication, "The Competitive Advantage of Corporate Philanthropy," Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer dispel the "myth of strategic philanthropy" in cause-related marketing efforts. Cause-related marketing, or corporate giving campaigns that often include a vague link between a corporation and a non-profit campaign, are largely intended to benefit the corporation's public image, acting as forms of publicity and marketing to generate goodwill. They argue that most corporate giving programs lack any solid connection to a company's strategy, and that "the acid test of good corporate philanthropy is whether the desired social change is so beneficial to the company that the organization would pursue the change even if no one ever knew about it" (Porter and Kramer 8).

Context-focused giving involves careful research and analysis as to how Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives dually create social benefits and benefits to one or more areas of their competitive context: factor conditions, demand conditions, context for strategy and rivalry, and related and supporting industries. Company's can engage in successful context-focused giving by identifying contextual conditions most important to their strategy and the health of their industry, and developing a giving program that improves the nature of this context, creating social and economic benefits. Just as individuals are impacted and shaped by their environment, the same is true for corporations. Context-focused giving provides an avenue for which to benefit both the individual and the company.

Factor Conditions refers to the size, quality and nature of the specialized inputs necessary for a company to operate. This includes a company's capital resources, its physical, administrative, information, scientific and technological infrastructure, and the availability of adequately trained employees along with natural resources. DreamWorks SKG implemented a successful context-focused giving strategy geared toward improving education and training for low-income students in Los Angeles. Partnering with Los Angeles Community College District and local schools, DreamWorks created a multifaceted program that combined classroom learning, mentoring and internships to provide low-income students in the area with the knowledge and skills necessary to work in the entertainment industry. The program had the social benefit of improved education and better employment opportunities in the community (context), as well as the economic benefit of expanding DreamWorks' availability of specially trained workers. Even for the specially trained graduates who did not go on to work for DreamWorks and instead worked for other companies, including competitors, DreamWorks could still count on the benefit of their project in improving the entertainment industry as a whole. DreamWorks is a part of an entertainment cluster, or "a geographic concentration of interconnected companies, suppliers, related industries, and specialized institutions in a particular field..." (Porter and Kramer, 4).

Corporations may choose to focus on the context of demand conditions when developing corporate strategic philanthropy, or conditions related to the size of the local market, customer sophistication, and potential areas of growth and change in regard to customer demands and needs, both locally and globally. One area that corporations have targeted is improving the sophistication of customers, and thus their demand for more sophisticated products and services. Apple Computer has targeted customer sophistication as a part of a long-standing context-focused corporate giving program that provides schools with Apple products. This creates social benefit of improved education and access to learning products in low-income areas while also expanding Apple's customer base.

Stay tuned for part 2!

8 Tips on How to Run a Successful End-of-Year Fundraising Campaign


The Holidays are the busiest time of the year for the fundraising teams at non-profits, with roughly 33% of annual giving occurring in December. While older, traditional methods of giving (e.g. the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign) are still important mainstays in collecting donations, innovative internet giving campaigns are an important part of any non-profit's fundraising strategy. In order to capitalize off of this exceptional period of giving, here are some useful tips, ideas and insights for running a successful end-of-year giving campaign using email.

Sending out a series of emails thanking and asking your donors to give should be a part of your year-end fundraising strategy. If someone has donated previously, you know they are already committed to your cause. Here are some keys to emails that successfully generate donations:

  1. Send out a series of emails: People are more likely to donate when they are given reminders and a series of opportunities to give. One email is more likely to be missed or ignored than three. A series of emails can also play off of the theme: "12 Days of ___," (e.g. 12 Days of Giving)
  2. Thank donors: It is important to thank donors for the gifts they have already given; it helps them feel appreciated and also gives your non-profit an opportunity to explain how their gifts haves been used.
  3. Be specific about the importance of donations: Stress how donations are an integral part of your non-profit's ability to have a social/environmental impact.
  4. Explain where donations go: People are more likely to give when they know what programs, grants, etc. their money is helping to fund, and furthermore, how their money is creating social value. Use examples that also show the impact/value of donations. When people can attach a face or name/identity to a story, it makes that story more real. Including examples with pictures of beneficiaries or field staff can be very effective.
  5. Encourage donors to share: Ask supporters to share your email with friends and family. You can also include widgets for sharing via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. Another great way for donors to share is through their blogs. Encourage donors with blogs to write a post about your giving campaign. Provide bloggers with a prompt or phrase to include that touches on giving and the holiday season, and of course, your non-profit's work. Provide them with a link to your donation page.
  6. Optimize emails for mobile: Many people check their email frequently from their mobile devices. If donors cannot open up your emails, how will they know to donate?
  7. Streamline your donation page: Given that so many donations come in during the last weeks of the year, it is important to make sure that people can easily donate, and that your webpage will not crash! Test how user-friendly your donation page is before you start your email campaign. Get several volunteers to do a "dry-run" through the donation page and get their feedback on the process. Make any necessary tweaks so donors do not hit a roadblock once they have decided to give.
  8. Report back: Let old and new donors know about your fundraising success, and thank them! Some things to consider noting in your wrap-up emails include total amount raised, total supporters who gave, reminders about where the money will go/how it will benefit, plans and goals for the year ahead.

'Tis the season for giving, and we hope this guide will help and inspire your team to run a successful email campaign during this spectacular season for giving, and receiving, donations!


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