3 Tips for the Season of Giving

As the end of 2019 comes to a close, many of us are busy making a case for supporting causes that spark our passion. Whether you serve on a board, volunteer or financially support organizations in your community, this time of year always brings opportunity to make a case for getting more resources to your cause. End of year giving and resolutions for the New Year are a chance to revisit and re-evaluate your support, but also to encourage others to join you in supporting the causes you love.

Unfortunately, there are very few people who would say they have a lot of extra time and/or money to give. The same with businesses, including mine – few would report having a lot of extra money lying around to give to charitable causes. I’m sure we have all had conversations with acquaintances, co-workers, business leaders, friends, etc., who listen politely, but share they would love to help, but they don’t have the time or money. Perhaps we aren’t making a compelling case. I would argue very few people are unable to give of their time and/or money when you apply the lens of pragmatic altruism.

Pragmatic altruism is investing resources strategically in a way that helps your community and your business. It’s not charity, which is giving for giving’s sake. (More about pragmatic altruism in a previous blog post here.)

How do you convincingly make the argument that—counterintuitively—giving up resources will bring even more resources back to their companies? I have sat on both sides of those conversations—both being asked to invest in a purpose and asking others to invest in my cause.  I have found a few simple principles that lead to successful asks – here they are:

  • Do your research. It is critically important to know about the individual you’re approaching because the most compelling asks are those that are aligned with their interests. If the person is a business leader, take it a step further and research their business – you want to know the needs of the company – what is its biggest pain point? What is its hidden passion? I can share a business leader perspective:
    • As the CEO of Loretto, every investment we make in the community must pass through a few simple filters. Does this make life better for my employees, whose hiring and retention is the number one priority in our strategic plan? Will this investment improve our patient experience?
  • Doing your research in advance is just as important as listening to the individual when you meet face-to-face. Don’t go empty-handed – prepare a shortlist of potential opportunities to support the organization. However, don’t restrict yourself to that list. Ask curious and open-ended questions and accept the fact that it’s okay to go out of the meeting at a different place than when you walked in. For example, you might discover a family foundation’s real passion isn’t a naming opportunity, but to bring the arts to the community.
  • Reconsider your role. So often, we are focused on changing the world and helping individuals leave their lasting legacies – inspiring and big goals – but regardless of how big these goals are, they also limit you. You have the opportunity to be a business enabler and community developer.

Through the exercise of pragmatic altruism, you can provide a compelling argument that doing good is good for business. Pragmatic altruism is where magic is created.