National Philanthropy Day honoree We Energies tells how

Here’s an easy multiple-choice question:  Last year, We Energies gave more than 2 percent of its net income to charity – twice the average rate for corporations nationwide.  That makes the company well positioned to:

  1. champion the community impact of corporate social responsibility
  2. advise nonprofits in how to build charitable relationships with companies
  3. accept the Wisconsin Organization Philanthropy Award being given at Milwaukee’s National Philanthropy Day celebration on November 13, or
  4. all of the above

Beth Straka, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications and Investor Relations at WEC Energies Group, acknowledged that her company’s strong philanthropy is a bit of an outlier these days.  “Companies used to target 2% giving back in the 50s and 60s, but this target often fell by the wayside as companies consolidated and grew larger,” she says.

Stratka underscored corporate giving as an essential lifeline for organizations.  She offered advice to help nonprofits expand their corporate giving:

Do your homework.  “Research our mission, focus areas and eligibility requirements, and communities we serve,” she said. “Take time to develop a relationship so we can find the best possible fit.”

Help businesses do their homework on your organization. “Demonstrate your mission impact with key performance indicators,” Straka suggests. Also, be transparent about the organization’s financial health – corporate donors want to see you have the staying power to remain impactful.

Build two-way relationships.  Creatively help corporate donors achieve their goals.  “Nonprofits can add value by engaging our people, educating our workforce, providing meaningful volunteer opportunities for our employees, and helping us solve diversity and inclusion challenges.”

What about you?  How do you think nonprofits can optimize corporate relationships?


On Philanthropy appears monthly in the Milwaukee Business Journal and is contributed by Doug Diefenbach, Jevita Brister and Ellen Wilkinson for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter.  Join us for the National Philanthropy Day luncheon on November 13.

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