Leaders from small businesses to large corporations have come to realize the wisdom of proactively partnering with nonprofits to enhance their communities. These business leaders are finding that a well thought out philanthropy plan brings their company higher visibility, increased customers, and more effective branding.
It’s also a great employee retention tool, creating increased morale, pride, and higher productivity among employees. For-profit organizations routinely incorporate philanthropy into their business model as a key to success, whether their intention is to improve their community, to help boost their bottom line, or to make them feel good about giving back.
Nonprofits have proven to be the most effective means of enhancing social capital as a route to long-term societal change and sustainability. Charities rely on generous donations from businesses, individual donors, and foundations to carry out their essential services. Therefore, partnerships between businesses and nonprofits offer a mutually beneficial way of benefiting communities.
Santa Barbara is fortunate to have many businesses that generously support our local nonprofits and encourage their employees to do the same. Today I’ll tell you about a local company that is a shining example of philanthropy strategically aligned with its values and goals. They are making an impressive difference in our community.
>>Sonos teams up with Sustainable Surf to combat climate change.
I first noticed Sonos’ unique approach to charitable giving when I read that they committed to giving five percent of their sales on Giving Tuesday to Sustainable Surf, a local nonprofit. The total amount of the donation was $100,000.
Sustainable Surf believes that the ocean has the superpower to reverse climate change. They use the global appeal of surf culture to protect ocean health and reverse climate change. Sonos specifically chose to support their program, SeaTrees, which plants mangrove trees in the sea; restores kelp forests, coral reefs, seagrass meadows, and conserves coastal watersheds. This is 5-10 times more effective than rainforests at removing carbon from the air and protecting blue-carbon coastal ecosystems. To date, SeaTrees has planted 2,210,445 trees.
When I spoke with Deji Olukotun, Director of Global Affairs & Sustainability, he explained that Sonos is diligent about aligning their charitable giving with their culture and values. “Sonos is very committed to sustainability of the planet and addressing the total environmental impact of our products,” explained Olukotun. “Last year, we introduced our Climate Action Plan, with a goal of going carbon neutral in 2030 and reaching net zero by 2040. Our core objective is reducing our carbon emissions.” He went on to say, “We chose SeaTrees as a nonprofit partner because we believe they are making a significant impact on removing carbon from the air.”
>> Sound has a positive impact on our lives.
Sonos, headquartered in Santa Barbara, describes their company as “the world’s leading sound experience company.” They are driven by the belief that listening has a positive impact on our lives and that sound moves us and bring us closer to the people, cultures and communities around us. Therefore, in 2018 they launched the Soundwaves program, with an ambitious goal of providing 100,000 hours of youth music education by 2025. To date, they have invested over $1 million in music education nonprofits around the world, and they are thrilled to have achieved their target this year.
Notes for Notes is one of the many local music education organizations that have benefited from Sonos’ generosity. This Carpinteria nonprofit provides youth with free access to music instruments, instruction and recording studio environments so that music may become a profoundly positive influence in their lives.
Sonos is also supporting the Sing! program of Music Academy of the West, which provides choral instruction to kids in Title 1 schools and the Music Imagination program at the Turner Foundation, which provides music instruction to youth in affordable housing on Santa Barbara’s West Side.
>>Santa Barbara is home to many generous businesses.
Our community is so fortunate to have many civic-minded, philanthropic businesses. Each one seems to carefully align their charitable giving with their company values as well as the interests of their employees and customers.
Wendy Hawkins, executive director of the Intel Foundation, advises that corporate giving should evolve within the company culture. They favor more strategic forms of philanthropy that build the company’s reputation and extend their brand.
Sara Miller McCune, Founder of SAGE Publications and the McCune Foundation, explains that her company gives its donations to programs related to education, using employee involvement in all of their giving. The company also matches employee donations to nonprofits. McCune says that people will notice a company’s good work. She advises businesses to contribute because of the way it makes them feel inside.
Eduardo Cetlin, Director of Corporate Philanthropy of Amgen, says that Amgen established their philanthropy program by looking inward first. They built a governance structure, setting policies and procedures, and establishing clear processes for strategic philanthropy. Amgen has a high value for scientific innovation to inspire the next generation of scientists.
Montecito Bank & Trust, is another excellent example of a business that consistently works with nonprofits to make our community a better place. Janet Garufis, Chairman & CEO, explains, “Our founder, Michael Towbes, believed it was our corporate responsibility to make the communities we serve better places to live and work. He hoped we could make a lasting impact in our communities by investing a meaningful amount of our corporate profits back into local nonprofit organizations who are so critical to the vitality of our communities, enriching and enabling the lives of so many. We believe everyone has something to give and encourage our associates to give back through their time, treasure, and talent. Our associates are engaged through our volunteer programs and in our annual giving through our Anniversary Grants program and Associate Matching Grant program which enables us to double the impact of their personal donations and support the nonprofits organizations they are passionate about. It was Mr. Towbes’ hope that our example would model the way for other businesses to give back in their own way.”
>>Consider partnering with local nonprofits for your company’s charitable giving.
Many of the larger organizations have created foundations specifically for their charitable gifts. However, any size business can create a plan to align their giving with their values and goals and those of their employees and customers. Companies can work with the Santa Barbara Foundation’s donor advised funds program to create an impactful philanthropy program.
In addition, businesses should remember that they have an entire portfolio of assets at their disposal to use for the benefit of nonprofits, in addition to financial contributions. Many nonprofits depend on volunteers to help with their essential work. Specific expertise is also highly valued because many nonprofits cannot afford to hire expert services such as marketing, social media, and financial services. There is a place for every person and every company that wants to be part of enhancing our community through the vital work of our nonprofits.