Hands On Gritty Philanthropy

More than ever, consumers demand brands live the values they espouse. Giving back to consumer groups, communities, and charitable organizations can take many forms, but most often companies (brands) assist through straightforward monetary donations. While it should not be overlooked that money is highly appreciated and a critical resource, a simple financial donation can also cause strain on organizations when it comes to planning and execution.

Therefore a new more comprehensive form of philanthropy may be more effective. A style that not only incorporates a benefactor's money but their skills and effort as well. We call this Gritty Philanthropy. It is getting directly involved, rolling your sleeves up, getting your hands dirty and getting it done!

Whatever you decide that "it" is.

So why is it so much more impactful?

Gritty Philanthropy requires the three Ts—time, talent, and treasure. Tackling issues holistically with the three Ts creates a business-based solution. By applying the acumen of the brand's team, the beneficiary also receives a strategy, timeline, and practical real-life plan for leveraging financial contributions.

In contrast, the passive donation route provides funding but puts pressure on the recipient organization to work out all the details themselves. Many organizations are capable of this task, but their focus is and should be, on executing their core mission as opposed to planning ancillary activities. So, providing a soup-to-nuts approach to helping charities removes this burden while providing solutions.

Another reason direct involvement can be more impactful than passive donation lies in the internal working of non-profit community organizations and the allocation of funds. Within every organization, there are many competing priorities for funding. With multiple competing priorities, there are often not enough funds for all ambitions and plans. In these situations, funding often gets diverted from the original projects and shared between other needs. This can dilute the visible impact for any contributing brand.

Championing a specific project by providing a vision and the human resources, know-how and funding required, keeps the task on time and budget ensuring the idea you had on paper is realized.

Let's Do What We Do Best

Finally, charities and community organizations are designed to manage their core purpose. As such, they may not have the talent or staff to do the work that needs to be done beyond their core objective. For example, running a community center is a different skill set than creating a “Maker Space” or a STEM lab, upgrading IT systems, or refurbishing a gymnasium. If people are asked to do tasks way outside of their skillset it’s likely going to require extra time or fail to be accomplished entirely.

Have you ever noticed how long it takes you to do a home project especially if you’re not especially handy? It’s the same at community organizations except 10 times more difficult with even more competing priorities!

Therefore, getting directly involved works. It takes the pressure off the organization and maximizes the direct impact. They don’t need to get bogged down with the details and heavy lifting.

Additionally, it should not be overlooked that there are many benefits for employees who can be engaged in hands-on philanthropy or volunteering. First, there are many health benefits such as decreased stress and depression that can result from helping others. Second, employees can be given the chance to demonstrate their leadership or try executing new skills. Finally, the experience of working and interacting with the recipient organization will leave a meaningful impact that can deepen their connection to their employer.

Give What They Really Need

Quite often charities and community organizations don’t get what they need. Instead, they get what they are given because anything is better than nothing.

We believe this is the wrong way to go about things. Give them what they deserve. Give them the best you can, and promptly—the speed of need!

Many times, what they really need is your advice, your time and knowledge. It might not be money. It might simply be an opportunity or a new perspective.

What does this mean for other brands and businesses which might get involved? It means to look critically at what is needed and work out how you can remove obstacles. Focus on providing what is needed as opposed to a blank passive donation leading to more work for the beneficiary.

Gritty philanthropy also means getting involved at a street level, in real life and in real-time. Rather than going top-down through a large national or multinational organization expecting a trickle-down; we go to where the actual need is and where the work needs to be done—in the community.