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Community Health Charities doesn’t just help our corporate partners build stronger, healthier employees—we help our employees give back to the causes they’re passionate about as well.

From Thursday, August 2 to Friday, August 10, Community Health Charities employees participated in the #CauseAnImpact Employee Engagement and Giving campaign. Employees practiced work-life balance by cooking healthy meals with their families, took mental health breaks throughout the day, and prioritized their wellbeing.

The campaign began and ended with Mission Moments: Two charity partners, Jessie Rees Foundation and Pet Partners, spoke with Community Health Charities and shared the impact employees could have through charitable giving.

“Our culture of giving is changing dramatically. In order to feel compelled to give back, the employees should feel more involved. Listening to the stories of our charity partners connects them back to the reasons why we give and how that support changes our community in such a positive and helpful way,” said Amanda Williams, Development Operations Specialist.

The campaign ended with a potluck celebration, where employees shared the healthy meals they learned to make during the campaign.

Looking to establish your own workplace giving campaign? Contact us and utilize our campaign resources for guidelines from start to finish, including engagement ideas, goal setting, and volunteering-in office.

 

  

Play ball! Community Health Charities is teaming up with the Oklahoma City Dodgers and the Southern Plains Tribal Health Board to support American Indian health.

The three organizations are hosting the American Indian Health Fund Night at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark on Friday, August 17. Tickets for the baseball game are a special rate of $16, with $2 of each ticket supporting the American Indian Health Fund.  The American Indian Health Fund is a program founded by Community Health Charities and the Southern Plains Tribal Health Board that supports and improves American Indian’s health.

Read the full article.

After 60 years, Community Health Charities recognized that we stood at a vital crossroads: evolve or become irrelevant.

The landscape of philanthropy has changed. Technology has advanced the transactional aspect of giving, as mobile, digital, social and online giving platforms replaced most in-person asks and paper pledge forms — and supplanted a large portion of our role as a workplace giving-centered organization.

As technology and donor demands continue to evolve, many nonprofits that were strong and successful in the past are now struggling and left with a particularly daunting decision: adapt or die.

Here are my top recommendations for how to make the switch from transactional to collaborative, helping your nonprofit remain relevant and increasing your impact into the future.

Avoid mission creep while making a mission shift.

 

Read the full article on Forbes.

 

If you’re measuring volunteer programs by their participation rate, you could actually be hurting company culture.

Reporting by Realized Worth shows volunteer programs that pressure employees to participate often backfire, leading to employees feeling coerced and obligated to participate.  This results in a company culture embedded in resentment.

The solution? Encourage employee volunteering and giving by finding leaders in your organization to model engagement: “When people see others, especially leaders, engage in [organizational citizenship behavior], they are likely to find voluntary expressions of mimicking such behavior.”

Read the full article on Realized Worth. Utilize our campaign resources to recognize employee champions in your workplace to model employee engagement. Check out our Volunteer On The Spot Guide for volunteer activities employees can get involved in right in the office.

If your small business is looking to incorporate workplace giving into your company’s culture, consider the following guidelines from BBB Wise Giving Alliance:

  • Verify the charities’ tax-exempt status.
  • Keep in mind state registration requirements for charities.
  • Be wary of excessive pressure.
  • Confirm the amount donated from benefit dinners and performance tickets.
  • Confirm with charities before establishing clothing bins and coin collection boxes.
  • Receive cause-related marketing disclosures before using a charities’ name in promotions.
  • See if the charity meets BBB Charity Standards.

Read the BBB Wise Giving Alliance article.

All of Community Health Charities’ more than 2,000 nonprofit partners have been approved by BBB Wise Giving Alliance and meet high standards of transparency and conduct, especially in workplace giving campaigns.  We work with many small and mid-size businesses establishing workplace giving campaigns, offering giving options, causes, volunteer opportunities, health resources, strategic partnerships, campaign resources, and more to help you engage your employees and customers while impacting communities. Contact us to learn more.

Jerome Tennille, an employee engagement professional who specializes in volunteer management, recently presented “Corporate Social Responsibility – Making it Work for your Organization’s Volunteer Program” with candid recommendations for how companies and nonprofits can best align for mutual benefit.

5 Takeaways:

  1. Do your research first. Due diligence is critically important in understanding a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Some companies have specific causes they focus on, and others may more broadly support the community and giving back. Before asking for money or seeking volunteers, nonprofits must align with those corporate goals.  Doing research offers useful insights into a company’s core focus areas and demonstrates alignment (or not) with a nonprofit’s mission. “I get solicitations all the time from people who clearly have not done their research,” said Jerome. “Unfortunately, that is a waste of time for both sides.”2
  2. Focus on impact and authenticity. This applies to both sides of the partnership. It’s not authentic when a company comes at the last minute asking for large-scale employee engagement activities that a nonprofit has to create in a rush, diverting resources from their mission. It’s also not authentic when a nonprofit treats a company like an ATM machine and is only interested in money. “Don’t go for short-term gain and risk the long-term relationship,” cautioned Jerome. “A company is a business and has to be successful and make money before it can give it away.” The best corporate-nonprofit partnerships focus on building long-term relationships to achieve real impact, aligned with the company’s business goals and the nonprofit’s mission. Ultimately, the goal for both partners is to serve the community.
  3. Get creative. In his experience, 90% of companies are looking for a turnkey, single day of service for employee engagement. Rather than put pressure on nonprofits to provide volunteer activities for hundreds or thousands of employees on one day, Jerome suggests companies and nonprofits look for new and more meaningful ways to work together. Ensure any project meets a real community need and is mission-driven, not sacrificing program integrity. While at The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), when large companies with thousands of employees kept approaching him for ready-to-go volunteer projects, Jerome worked jointly with program managers to solve the challenge. They stayed true to TAPS’ core services and developed “Thousands of Thanks,” a volunteer program for employees to write or draw leaves and create beautiful thank you trees—a “forest of thanks”—that encouraged visiting families who were grieving the loss of a military loved one. This program has now expanded to custom quilts as well. “It took a lot of brainpower to get to that point,” Jerome said.
  4. Understand motivations: Employees might volunteer to help the cause, or to enhance their résumés, boost business reputation, or fulfill a company mandate. Nonprofits need to take the time to listen to a company and its employees’ motivations. Equally, nonprofits can work to educate companies, especially key leaders, on community needs and the costs involved in mission work and meaningful impact. For example, although most companies want to volunteer at a food bank during the holidays, the real need is during the off-months.
  5. Make it about mutual benefit. A company’s business goals and philanthropic strategy can align seamlessly with a nonprofit’s mission and work for both sides. For example, Jerome recommends nonprofits position volunteering as a solution to a business challenge—not just unpaid work that takes away company revenue. “Find a mutual benefit and position yourself to solve their problems,” Jerome advised “Help them reach their goals while not sacrificing yours.”

 

Jerome shared two examples that demonstrate how mutual benefit in corporate-nonprofit partnerships works.

  • The hospitality industry at large is working to eliminate food waste while serving communities in need. Similarly, many food banks, pantries, and distribution centers want to eliminate food waste and serve communities too. So, it’s not uncommon that companies that source high volumes of food want to donate what’s not used, plus, company volunteer can help sort this food in the food pantry’s warehouse, while also sourcing unique skills from their employees to develop best-in-class processes to more efficiently receive and distribute the food.
  • The entire hospitality industry is experiencing a staffing shortage. Volunteering can be a solution. Some companies in this industry provide job training, résumé writing, interview practice, mentorship, and more with a special focus on youth, diverse populations, women, people with disabilities, veterans, and refugees. Employees volunteer with these communities to provide employment skills, helping eliminate stereotypes and providing hope and a future for underserved groups. “Youth are four times more likely to choose a job if they are exposed to it early,” said Jerome. And by developing a talent pipeline for the hospitality industry, companies engaged in this type of volunteering position themselves to better meet a business need.

 

In the end, creating partnerships for mutual benefit is the only way to build long-term, sustainable relationships with maximum community impact.

 

 

Jerome Tennille is the Manager of Volunteerism for Marriott International, where he leads the company’s traditional and skills-based volunteer programs, ensuring they reflect the latest innovations, technologies, and best practices. This includes Marriott’s  global week and month of community service, providing the framework, resources, and support needed for volunteerism efforts to be executed both globally and locally.  Prior to joining Marriott International, Jerome held the position of Senior Manager of Impact Analysis and Assessment for Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), a national organization that offers help, hope, and healing to all those grieving the death of a loved one serving in America’s armed forces. Jerome currently serves as a board of directors member of Peace Through Action USA and on the PsychArmor Institute Advisory Committee for the School of Volunteers & Nonprofits. Jerome holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in operations management and a Master of Sustainability Leadership (MSL) from Arizona State University. Jerome is designated as Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA) and is also a veteran of the US Navy.

 

Liberty Diversified International (LDI), a Community Health Charities corporate partner, celebrated their 100 year anniversary celebration this July. The celebration consisted of a 19 day “Great Gratitude Tour,” where the organization gave back to 17 cities and boasted millions of dollars in giving. The bus tour began in New York, went as far as California, and concluded with a Grand Finale in Minnesota.

On Friday, July 20 the tour concluded with a Grand Finale that presented 15 LDI nonprofit partners with gratitude grants, including Community Health Charities and four of our nonprofit partners.  Beginning at 10:18 AM, LDI gave gratitude grants to each of the nonprofit partners every hour at the 18th minute; 18 signifies life in the Jewish faith.

We’re proud to be partners with an organization so focused on building stronger, healthier communities across the country.

Contact us and access our campaign resources to organize opportunities for your employees to support their communities.

 

Employee engagement has never been more critical. Engaged employees are happier and 22% more productive (Harvard Business Review), yet most companies find employee engagement challenging. In fact, Gallup studies show 70% of U.S. workers are not engaged at work.

Every company has three types of employees: engaged, not engaged, or actively disengaged.

Engaged employees have a passion for the company and drive it forward, while actively disengaged staff often cost the company. For simple ways to enhance employee engagement and reduce turnover, including suggested communication methods, valuable tools, and company resources, check out “Engaging and Communicating with Employees: Empower, Communicate, and Engage Your Employees with Access to Resources.” This e-book was authored by Community Health Charities Board Member and Continuwell President & CEO Charu Raheja.

For more employee engagement resources, take a look at Community Health Charities’ Tools For Engagement GuideHealth and Wellness Guide, and Year-Round Employee Engagement Calendar.

 

Charu Raheja, PhD is the CEO of Continuwell & TriageLogic Group and has served on the Community Health Charities’ Board of Directors since 2015. Charu graduated with a PhD in Finance from New York University and her award-winning research and publications have influenced corporate governance policy and regulation.

Charitable giving is thriving at first glance—charities raised $410 billion in 2017. However, Chronicle’s reporting indicates that this may be philanthropy’s peak due to limiting trends:

  1. The share of Americans who give to charity is declining.
  2. Giving has declined in all age groups—not only millennials.
  3. Nonprofits are increasingly relying on the wealthy.

Read the full Chronicle article.

Community Health Charities is working hard to support our nonprofit partners and make it easy for companies and their employees to build stronger, healthier communities. Check out our resources: workplace giving campaigns, on-site volunteering events, and engagement activities.

I’ll never forget when my doctor started our conversation with “Man, you have a lot of cancer in there!”

I had considered myself healthy for a man over the age of 50. My diet was light on sugar and carbs, I had a regular exercise routine at the gym every week, I did not smoke, and my alcohol consumption was minimal—I thought I was on track to live to be 100! I even had my PSA (prostate specific antigen) tested every couple of years, but had been complacent and unworried about my own risk of cancer.

All of that complacency was shattered when I had the life-altering diagnosis of prostate cancer—a lot of prostate cancer. My life was suddenly consumed with appointments with urologists and radiologists; countless hours were spent on internet searches that yielded highly generic, and sometimes conflicting, information. I finally realized I needed to approach this as “my cancer.” I needed to make decisions based on my age, my lifestyle, my family, and, most importantly, the impact on my wife.

The good news is, prostate cancer is a treatable and manageable disease. Regardless of the stage of your disease, you have options for treatment. There are more than 2.9 million prostate cancer survivors in the U.S. The prognosis for survival is excellent, even if the cancer reoccurs. In my case, the cancer reoccurred three years after my prostatectomy (surgical removal of the prostate and surrounding affected tissues). Radiation treatments took care of the remaining metastatic disease and I am now almost at the coveted five-year survival rate with no signs of re-occurrence.

My message to men is that the opportunity for a long and productive life exists only when a man is proactive, prioritizes his health, and is vigilant on taking preventive measures.

June is Men’s Health Month, and Sunday, June 17 is Father’s Day. There is no better time of the year to focus on men’s health.

As a father and husband, let me suggest to spouses and family members that you skip buying dad another tie or grill mitt this Father’s Day. Instead, let him know you want him to be here for many more Father’s Days.

Here are 7 ways to give your dad the gift of health:

1) Ask dad to get the PSA test. The greatest risk factors for developing prostate cancer are increasing age, family history, ethnicity, and diet. If you can answer yes to any of these factors, get the test today. Don’t wait: I am older than 50, I have a family history of prostate cancer, or I am African-American.

2) Send dad a note, an e-card or a text encouraging him to schedule an annual check-up.

3) Commit to a healthier lifestyle. Keep each other accountable, and get the whole family involved.

4) Get your heart rates up. Take walks together; hike, play a friendly game of basketball, football or Frisbee; go golfing; or invite the grandkids to the park.

5) Eat dinner together. Find healthy alternatives at your favorite restaurants.

6) Give healthy gifts. If you do get dad a gift for Father’s Day, consider a game you can play together; a FitBit, health monitor, health app, or step counter; or a healthy treat or meal.

7) Support Men’s Health. Donate your time or money. Recently, I was elected to serve on the national board of directors for ZERO: The End of Prostate Cancer, the leading national nonprofit with the mission to end prostate cancer. I am joining with them to help end prostate cancer. Find a nonprofit that works for a men’s health cause you’re passionate about.

There is nothing wrong with growing mustaches and raising awareness of men’s health issues for Movember. We need that ― but we also need men to take actionI did, and it has saved my life thus far. One in every nine men will have to face prostate cancer in their lifetime. That can be changed. The best way for any man to say, “I love you,” to his family and loved ones is to do his best to ensure that he is here for many Father’s Days to come.

What’s your organization’s purpose?

No, not profitability or outcomes, but the social or environmental impact your organization prioritizes. Consumers no longer are solely focusing on products and services—they’re focusing on the intentions and actions of organizations as well. A 2018 Cone Communications Study found that “companies that lead with Purpose will stand to build deeper bonds with existing consumers, expand the consumer base and enlist those brand advocates to share the brand message.”

The study found that:

  • 78% of Americans believe that companies must positively impact society
  • 77% feel a stronger emotional bond to purpose-driven companies
  • 66% would use products from a purpose-driven company than a non-purpose driven companies

Read Cone Communication’s full purpose study: How To Build Deeper Bonds, Amplify Your Message And Expand Customer Base.

When you’re looking to add purpose to your organization, utilize Community Health Charities’ extensive resource library, engagement tools to get your full team on board, and cause marketing solutions to involve your community.

Each year, more than 14 million children attend summer camp in the US. It’s a rite of passage for many, providing independence and personal growth. For children facing long-term health challenges, this life-changing opportunity builds confidence and helps children see beyond their limits rather than be defined by them.

BBB Wise Giving Alliance has provided four guidelines for supporting philanthropy camps—ensuring that your support is giving kids the chance to be kids, despite health challenges:

  • Search for specialization
  • Find qualifications
  • Ensure camps are licensed
  • See if they are trustworthy

Community Health Charities’ Camps For Kids cause supports BBB-accredited nonprofit partners working to give children in need a happy, healthy summer.

Whether you’re improving an existing employee engagement program or developing a new one, you know that there are countless “proven” strategies out there—Realized Worth makes it easy to know which ones are effective.

Realized Worth has compiled the top trends and mechanisms in employee engagement and corporate social responsibility. Utilize them when improving your company’s culture, and reference our Year-Round Employee Engagement Calendar and Tools For Engagement Guide when implementing.

Read the full Realized Worth article.

 

 

There are 20.4 million veterans in the United States as of 2016—how many of them are in your community?

This Memorial Day, support the members of your community that fought for you, your family, and all of us.

  • Volunteer your time. Host an at-home volunteer event using our Volunteer On The Spot Guide. Whether your team is assembling care packages or writing thank you cards, they will be making an impact on local veterans. Or, use the volunteer opportunity locator to find existing projects in your area.
  • Support Hero’s Health. After sacrificing and serving our country, our military veterans often need to recover from both physical and mental wounds. Nearly 1 of every 4 active duty military members show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or other mental health conditions. Support Hero’s Health to provide comprehensive health services for our nation’s military, veterans, and first responders.
  • Thank veterans and their families. Stop and say thank you to any veterans you know, whether they’re family or community members.

Should Starbucks have an open bathroom policy? Should Amazon support DACA? How should businesses respond to #MeToo?In today’s world, social issues matter. They are on the front page of every newspaper and social media site. Your employees are taking action and expect their company to as well.

  • 75% of US workers between the ages of 18 and 34 expect their employer to take positions on social issues affecting the country, such as civil rights, immigration, and climate change.
  • 84% of US workers believe companies have an important voice in proposed legislation, regulation, and executive orders that could affect the employer’s business or the lives of employees.
  • 75% of US workers expect their employer to support groups and individuals and need in their respective communities, either through donations and/or volunteer efforts.

If employee activism is a hot topic for you, then you won’t want to miss this year’s Employee Engagement Summit in NYC. Andrew Davis, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Coca-Cola, will talk about Tackling Today’s Social Issues and Igniting Employee Activism. A hands-on workshop Connecting Social Issues and Employee Activism with your Brand hosted by Best Buy will follow.

Register now for the 17th Annual Employee Engagement Summit June 27-28, 2018 to leverage employee activism in your business goals.

It has been more than one hundred years since President Woodward Wilson proclaimed Mother’s Day as a national celebration. Long before that, however, President Abraham Lincoln said, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

Like the lengthening and warmer days of spring, another Mother’s Day is fast approaching. Serving breakfast in bed is truly a Mother’s Day classic. A bright bouquet of flowers and the expected card from the family are other time-honored traditions. There are countless other ways to convey the love and appreciation deserved by all mothers everywhere.

This year, however, I would like to suggest a new tradition, one that will be much more meaningful and long lasting: The gift of health and wellness. Heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases are among the leading causes of death for women in the United States—and the most preventable.

Make health something you and mom do together with a few easy ideas you can start, just in time for the big day this Sunday.

· Take morning walks through the neighborhood. On Mother’s Day and at other gatherings, take a family walk to the park or playground.

· Make meals healthy. Grocery shop together and prepare healthy meals with seasonal fruits and vegetables. Consider creating healthier versions of your family’s favorite recipes or having the kids cook a special meal for mom. Start a small family garden.

· Give healthy gifts. If you do get Mom a gift, try a bowl or basket of fresh fruit, a fruit bouquet, or step counters for her and the whole family.

· Get regular check-ups, and keep each other accountable.

· Support women’s health. Donate to a nonprofit to support mothers and children, especially those disproportionately affected due to their economic status, race or ethnicity, and other factors outside their control—check our cause list for ideas. Volunteer your time. Donate your gently used clothing and household items to local organizations. Your whole family can participate (Mom included), or you can let Mom know you are taking action in her honor.

These simple tips can help make health and wellness a natural part of your family’s routine. Best of all, getting active and giving back increase happiness and boost mental health, so you can help others while improving your own health too.

Celebrate Mother’s Day this year by giving Mom—and the whole family—a gift that will last a lifetime: better health for all.

Utilize our health resources, opportunities to support women’s health, women’s health information, volunteer opportunities, and more to give mom the gift of health this Mother’s Day. 

This blog was originally published on BBB Wise Giving Alliance, our partner.When considering the value of implementing a volunteer program into your employee engagement and corporate social responsibility strategies, keep in mind the monetary value of volunteering. 

The history of volunteering in the U.S. is a long and generous one from helping out neighbors in barn raising two centuries ago to Habitat for Humanity and similar charities building homes today. And, of course, volunteering is not just about building structures but can address everything from delivering meals to the elderly to educating children. While the personal benefits and joys of providing this assistance are very real for participants, it can be difficult to quantify. There is, however, an estimated dollar value of a volunteer hour. This past week, Independent Sector, the national nonprofit membership organization, in conjunction with IMPLAN, a provider of economic impact analysis software, announced that the value of the volunteer hour in the United States is $24.69 per hour which is up 2.2 percent from the previous year.

As further noted by Independent Sector, 63 million Americans volunteer about 8 billion hours to a variety of charitable organizations. IS also produced a state-by-state chart of volunteer data that is available here.

BBB Wise Giving Alliance encourages potential volunteers to find out more about the charity before volunteering and visit Give.org to verify if the subject charity meets the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. In addition, we offer the following tips:

  • Consider what the charity expects of its volunteers.
  • Are you seeking a one-day offer of assistance or a continuing arrangement with the subject organization?
  • Keep in mind that the IRS does not allow you to deduct the value of your time as a donation, but travel expense such as gas and other incidental expenses might be deductible.
  • Charities can use volunteers in a variety of ways depending on the skills of the individuals providing assistance. Be aware that many charities need help with office work so don’t expect all volunteering is about delivering services to the needy.

Volunteers are usually welcomed throughout the year, so don’t wait until the holiday giving season before offering a helping hand.

When planning your organization’s volunteer program, check out our volunteer opportunity locator to find opportunities by keyword and zip code and our Volunteer On The Spot Guide to organize in-office volunteer events. 

If you aren’t measuring employee engagement, you should be. Skeptics complain that the data from employee engagement surveys isn’t fully trustworthy; any time you survey people, you have to look with a very cynical eye at the wording of the questions and whether the people surveyed believe their answers are truly confidential.

If you run employee-focused programs, however, it’s worth the effort to get to a trustworthy data set for employee engagement.

When I was at Wells Fargo, I worked with HR to correlate my volunteer and giving program usage with employee engagement data, which at that time was considered trustworthy. Through this, I learned a number of interesting things that helped me make a business case for investment in my programs. Among the things we learned:

  • Employees who donate or volunteer consistently return higher engagement scores.
  • Employees who volunteer with company-run events feel more a part of the team and think more highly of their coworkers.
  • Usage of the matching gift program did not correlate with higher or lower engagement, and in fact
  • Employees who were perpetually disengaged (low scores over a three year period) got the highest average donation match.

Furthermore, we went beyond combining basic program usage with engagement data; we cross-referenced program satisfaction surveys, and, in some business areas where management agreed to the research, we included productivity and profitability measures. We learned a number of important things from that research, but two things stood out to me:

  • Employees tend to follow their leader—if their leader volunteers and donates, employees in the workgroup tend to do so as well, and
  • Workgroups with high volunteerism and donor rates on average showed slightly lower short term profitability but had higher engagement, lower turnover, and better retention over time.

Obviously, your success may vary because every organization is different. It’s important to measure engagement, however, because until you have data that supports or refutes your beliefs, you’re just another person with an opinion. Once you have the data, you can investigate its meaning and decide whether you need to adjust your programs, change your approach, or keep your course steady.

 

Have you uncovered interesting or unexpected trends in your engagement and community involvement data? You can tell me, and pick up tips from leading practitioners, at the Charities@Work conference in New York, June 27-28.

Peter Dudley is an author and nationally recognized expert in corporate social responsibility, marketing, and employee engagement. He’s worked the last 17 years in CSR running employee giving and volunteerism for Wells Fargo, where his workplace campaign was ranked #1 nine years in a row by United Way Worldwide. Before joining Wells Fargo, Peter held various roles in high tech startups, from Marketing Director to software development to community management.

Peter is honored to serve on the Community Health Charities national board of directors as well as the Charities@Work Corporate Advisory Council, which he chaired in 2015 and 2016. He has also served on and chaired United Way Worldwide’s Global Corporate Leadership Council.

Peter lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is the proud father of both an Eagle Scout and a transgender daughter. 

The NFL Draft is upon this month. NFL teams will carefully hand-pick college football standouts to join their rosters. The options are endless: bulldozing offensive linemen, polished quarterback, speedy wide receiver, etc. The teams will choose the player that best fits into their organizations.

Similarly, with Community Health Charities, YOU choose the causes YOU care about. Support children, women, veterans, or crisis response, and more. Or create your own unique cause with our Custom Cause tool.

Don’t fumble—the giving options are in your hands.

With a career of more than 25 years spanning tiny startups and Fortune 25 behemoths, I’ve seen the power of community involvement in unifying employees, workgroups, and even entire business lines.

 

Beyond the camaraderie and warm fuzzies people get from doing good, corporate volunteer events and workplace giving campaigns provide other hidden, difficult-to-measure value to a company–business gets done at workplace giving campaign events.

 

A lot of things can split up employees and business units, making people feel disconnected. Project teams competing for internal resources (technology, budget, etc.) may distance themselves from each other. The natural skepticism immediately following a big merger or during a cost-cutting consolidation, when people are uncertain of their role going forward, creates division. And simple focus on the day-to-day work have can get employees stuck in ruts that end up as missed opportunities for collaboration and innovation. A good workplace giving campaign can help overcome these divisions.

 

I saw this at Wells Fargo, where every year the campaign brought team members together, outside their normal day-to-day context. For many, it was the only time they got to reach across departments to talk about collaboration. I saw more than one idea sparked at a campaign function, which led to meetings and new collaborations between departments that had otherwise not been in contact with each other.

 

The campaign’s unifying effect also affects morale. It was a powerful lesson to watch Wells Fargo and Wachovia employees during a difficult merger period come together to common purpose of doing good in the community. Campaign events helped to break down growing barriers of distrust as employees from both sides collaborated and came to know each other as more than just company human resources.

 

My friend Rebecca Wang, a Corporate Social Responsibility thought leader with over 17 years community engagement experience at Cisco and Hewlett Packard, has seen a similar effect in engaging teams. She told me, “In my role leading our global employee giving and volunteering programs, I helped managers leverage my program’s tools and resources to meet their specific employee engagement and team-building goals.” She further noted that about two-thirds of HP/HPE employees said the company’s culture of community engagement played an important role in their decision to join the company. I saw similarly strong numbers in my role at Wells Fargo.

 

I think that many of today’s managers inherently have an idea that community involvement plays a role in employee morale and corporate reputation, but I doubt many truly understand the depths to which an employee giving campaign helps to unify employees and achieve business goals.

 

Have you found surprising ways in which your workplace campaign has unified your workforce or helped your business? You can tell me, and pick up tips from leading practitioners, at the Charities@Work conference in New York, June 28-29.

Peter Dudley is an author and nationally recognized expert in corporate social responsibility, marketing, and employee engagement. He’s worked the last 17 years in CSR running employee giving and volunteerism for Wells Fargo, where his workplace campaign was ranked #1 nine years in a row by United Way Worldwide. Before joining Wells Fargo, Peter held various roles in high tech startups, from Marketing Director to software development to community management.

Peter is honored to serve on the Community Health Charities national board of directors as well as the Charities@Work Corporate Advisory Council, which he chaired in 2015 and 2016. He has also served on and chaired United Way Worldwide’s Global Corporate Leadership Council.

Peter lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is the proud father of both an Eagle Scout and a transgender daughter. 

This article was originally posted on SparkVision. 

We all have those moments where we feel like we’re taking crazy pills,  drowning in plain sight and out of control. These are moments where we’re experiencing the negative impact of stress.

By definition, “stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you sense danger–whether real or imagined–the body’s defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as fight or flight reaction or the stress response.”

Given that April is National Stress Awareness Month, it seemed like the perfect time to touch on this heavy topic.

And, before we get too far, I must put out a disclaimer…Stress has a valid role in our lives. It’s one of our most human expressions when we process strain. There are times where stress can be the emotional trigger we need to get to higher ground. However, the stress I’m referring to in this article is the counter-productive kind. The kind that creates unnecessary burden because of the false emergency alarm that’s going off in our brain.

The majority of stress that I’ve personally experienced has been an inaccurate and inappropriate interpretation of someone else’s demands which triggered me into my fight or flight state. I used to be Rocky when it comes to stress. Fighting with and for the most important things that HAD to be done ASAP. You know that kind?

It wasn’t until I started an active mindfulness-based practice, set intentional boundaries and ignited regular self-care, that I was able to reclaim what elicited stress in my life and what was just part of being alive and getting my work done.

So enough about what stress is and how sh!tty it feels. Let’s talk about the best ways to de-stress and ignite self care. Let’s get off the stress-filled emotional roller coaster and instead go for a peaceful walk on the beach (or in the park, in the city, etc.)

Every single one of these recommendations is something I’ve done personally, is at least semi-backed by research, and has worked for others I’ve known, also. I’ve even put it all together in a calendar so you can easily map out your official Month of Stress Reduction!

  1. Define + Live in your Values: Many people talk about their values, but they don’t take time to define them for themselves. So how can you live in alignment with your values if you don’t know what they are? Take a pen to paper and start writing out what you believe in and how you can live in those beliefs each day. Need a jump start? Check out my Values Policy article.
  2. Determine what is in and out of your control: We often stress about things we have no power over. Is it going to rain during our party? Will my boss be a jerk to me today? If we parse out what we have power over and what we don’t, we can lean into the things that we can control and let go of the things we cannot.
  3. Spend time in nature: Reconnect to the universe through nature. When you connect to the environment around you, it’s a solid reminder of how much bigger life is than your immediate issue.
  4. Remove yourself from a toxic environment: In the middle of a nasty conversation? Can’t stand the people you work with? Physically remove yourself from the toxic space that’s leaking its negativity onto your spirit. Not sure if you’re in a toxic workplace? Check out these 5 warning signs.
  5. Set Boundaries: People learn how to treat you by the boundaries you create. If you leave it up to others to decide, you’ll likely get the short end of the stick. Phrases like, “I have another commitment at that time,” or “What would you like me to take off my to-do list in order to accomplish this new task on time?”can be very helpful.
  6. Take yourself on a date: Haven’t gone to your favorite spot in a while? No need to wait for a date to make it happen! Take yourself where you’d like to go. Personally, I love going to the movies alone.
  7. Listen to music: The soothing power of music is no secret. It has a unique link to our emotions, so it can be an extremely effective stress management tool. Listening to music that brings us a sense of calmness can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies.
  8. Get a manicure or pedicure: The circulation created when a technician is massaging your hands/legs/feet actually releases pent-up stress that your body is physically holding on to.
  9. Take a nap: Sleep can be one of the first things to go when we’re stressed out. Racing thoughts keep us up and we need to catch our Zzz’s in elsewhere. If you’re not getting 6 to 8 hours of sleep at night, a nap can be a great way to recharge until you’re back in a healthy routine.
  10. Get a massage: Massage can help relax tight and painful muscles, improve range of motion in the joints, enhance circulation and lower stress levels. It may feel like a luxury experience, but it’s worth every penny if it can physically release some of your tension.
  11. Listen to a podcast: Let’s make sure it’s an episode on a topic that you love and also brings you joy when you learn more about it.
  12. Repeat a mantra: Try one of these mantra’s to play on repeat when you need the healthy reminder: “All situations are temporary.” “There is no wrong decision.” “I’ve survived all the difficult moments in my past.” “I am on the right path.”
  13. Meditate: If practiced for as few as 10 minutes each day, meditation can help you control stress, decrease anxiety, improve cardiovascular health, and achieve a greater capacity for relaxation. Need a guide? Check out the Headspace app.
  14. Move your body: Physical activity produces endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers–and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
  15. Drink tea: Green tea contains an amino acid that produces a calming effect, and the act of drinking tea can be a relaxing ritual. Pick out some that make your taste buds dance and brew yourself a little relaxing treat each day.
  16. Give someone a hug: Physical acts of touch increase oxytocin levels. This chemical reaction can help to reduce blood pressure, which in turn reduces the risk of heart disease. It can also help to reduce stress and anxiety.
  17. Cook a favorite dish: Cooking can help relieve stress, enhance creativity, and build connection with others. Make sure you set aside blocks of time that are only for cooking. This will make cooking more enjoyable and allow you to focus your energy on the task at hand.
  18. Take a long shower or bath: The heat of the bath mixed with Epsom salt increases the temperature of the aching muscles, helping them to relax, and blocks pain sensors which provide pain relief. Don’t have a tub? Take a shower with Epsom Salt scrubs!
  19. Read a book: The written word can literally take us to other worlds in our mind. A book can feel like a vacation if it’s the right fit for you.
  20. Dance to music that makes you happy: When the body feels good, the mind does, too. Any type of physical activity releases neurotransmitters and endorphins, which serve to alleviate stress.
  21. Take a walk: You can use this as a way to remove yourself from a toxic environment, connect with nature AND talk to a friend!
  22. Sit outside: Getting outside (especially if you’re in an office all day) can be an instant state change. Particularly when the sun is shining and you can soak in the Vitamin D.
  23. Do something creative: Scientists discovered that no matter the artistic experience, about 75 percent of people experience a decrease in their levels of cortisol, a hormone that the body secretes to respond to stress. Go express yourself!
  24. Watch a movie you enjoy: This can be one of the best nostalgic experiences. I always watch Alice in Wonderland when I need a pick me up.
  25. Practice yoga: Yoga is proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and lower your heart rate. Namaste, anyone?
  26. Indulge in a favorite treat: Go treat yo’self to something that makes you feel warm and fuzzy when you take it in.
  27. Spend time with pets: Studies show that interactions with animals can decrease stress in humans. Playing with an animal can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease the production of the stress hormone cortisol.
  28. Practice gratitude: Studies have shown that practicing gratitude on a daily basis can make you happier, lower stress, protect you from depression, help you sleep better, boost your immune system and improve your relationships.
  29. Journal: It’s simply writing down your thoughts and feelings to understand them more clearly. Keeping a journal can help you gain control of your emotions and improve your mental health.
  30. Talk to a friend: Don’t go at it alone. Often the simple act of making people aware of your stress can ignite empathy and support from others. We’ve all been there–and we can lean on each other to come back to a less stressful place.

What if this month, you TRIED a handful of these and reflected back on whether or not they made a difference for you? Then you can create your own toolkit of what works for YOU! I’d love to hear what your list looks like–so let me know in the comments below.

P.S. I wrote this article WHILE getting a pedicure. I love practicing what I preach and I hope you will, too!

 

 

MaryBeth Hyland, founder of SparkVision, believes that when you connect people through purpose, there’s no limit to what they can do. Her organization helps multi-generational teams who need an unbiased partner to identify the gap between their current and ideal culture.  By analyzing a company’s values and behaviors, she ultimately empower your people to own their role in crafting culture every day. SparkVision creates environments where people thrive.

Grounded in her BA in Social Work and MS in Nonprofit Management, this millennial leader is sought after for her ability to create movements that resonate. MaryBeth has been honored in Maryland as ‘Innovator of the Year,’ ‘Women on the Move,’ ‘Top 100 Women,’ ‘Top 100 Millennial Blog, ’Civic Engagement Leader’ and ‘Leading Women.’

 

Do employees care about your company’s philanthropic priorities? My guess is some do, but if you exclusively build your volunteer programs around your company’s social impact goals, you’re missing out on a huge engagement opportunity.

I see tech companies focusing on STEM, banks working on financial literacy, manufacturers and retailers supporting sustainability through their supply chains. All these make sense when the company is mobilizing its philanthropic and brand resources to achieve social impact goals, but too often companies treat their employees as just another corporate resource to be mobilized.

You may have noticed that not all people are exactly the same. Our upbringing, our life experiences, our cultural influences, our talents, and how we identify ourselves make every person unique. Working for a bank does not mean you are naturally excited about teaching budgeting for small businesses. Being a chip designer does not mean you are naturally excited about helping high school students build robots.

Yet that’s how many volunteer programs are designed—to mobilize employees in support of the impact goal. It’s an easy sell to the C Suite, and it’s also how many nonprofit partners want the programs designed.

Certainly, there’s room for that kind of programming, but you also need to empower your employees to find and support the causes that are important to them. Here are three easy ways to do that:

1)  Offer time off for volunteering: Companies that don’t offer paid community service hours are missing a huge recognition opportunity. Community service time is different from PTO because it can only be used for time spent working with a nonprofit. A typical program offers 16 hours a year or more.

2) Create volunteer councils, run by and for employees: Encouraging employees to work together in designing and running local team volunteer events results in higher engagement. It can also build leadership skills and create a great networking opportunity for employees.

3)  Recognize independent volunteering: An employee’s hours volunteering as a school crossing guard may not be relevant to your company’s social impact goals, but employees feel great when you recognize them for the volunteer community work they do. And, rather than a typical dollars-for-doers program which is little more than a transaction, recognize volunteerism with e-cards, internal social media mentions, or flexible company grant dollars the employee can direct to a nonprofit they choose.

What other ways do you engage employees that allow them to find and follow their passions in their own volunteering? You can tell me, and pick up tips from leading practitioners, at the 17th Annual Charities@Work Employee Engagement Summit in New York, June 28-29.

 

About Peter Dudley

Peter Dudley is an author and nationally recognized expert in corporate social responsibility, marketing, and employee engagement. He’s worked the last 17 years in CSR running employee giving and volunteerism for Wells Fargo, where his workplace campaign was ranked #1 nine years in a row by United Way Worldwide. Before joining Wells Fargo, Peter held various roles in high tech startups, from Marketing Director to software development to community management.

Peter is honored to serve on the Community Health Charities national board of directors as well as the Charities@Work Corporate Advisory Council, which he chaired in 2015 and 2016. He has also served on and chaired United Way Worldwide’s Global Corporate Leadership Council.

Peter lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is the proud father of both an Eagle Scout and a transgender daughter. 

We are committed to ensuring that our more than 2,000 charity partners are held to the highest standard of trust. Our partnership with the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance holds charity partners to the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability, signaling that they are trustworthy and held to high standards of conduct.

We are both proud and grateful for our collaboration with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. Together, we are building stronger, healthier communities.

It’s that time of year again– the NCAA basketball tournament is underway. While enjoying the hoops action, don’t foul out your health. There are ways to keep on track at work, and at home. Stay in the game with these March Madness health tips:

  • Host a lunchtime basketball game or start a company basketball team
  • Compete to see who can consistently make the healthiest choices with a March Madness-style bracket
  • Install a mini basketball hoop on an office door to spark some office competition and reduce stress
  • Plan ahead and snack smart with these healthy options from some of our charity partners:

Wise Giving Wednesday: Deducting Donations at Tax Time was originally published on BBB Wise Giving Alliance, a Community Health Charities partner. 

In recent months, concerns were raised about the impact of U.S. tax law changes in 2018 since, among other things, the increase in the standard deduction to $12,000 per individual or $24,000 per couple, could reduce the incentive for some households to get a charitable deduction since fewer tax filers would itemize on their returns. While it is too early to tell if this fear will materialize, those claiming charitable deductions on their 2017 income taxes, should still keep in mind the following fundamentals.

One can claim a charitable deduction for contributions made to organizations tax exempt as charities under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and to veterans organizations tax-exempt under section 501(c)(19) of the Internal Revenue Code.  Contributions to other tax-exempt entities are generally not deductible as charitable gifts. To verify a group’s tax-exempt status visit the following IRS web page: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/exempt-organizations-select-check

If the charity sends you something of value in response to your gift (for example, a stuffed animal, book, or concert tickets) only the portion of your donation above the fair market value of what you receive would be deductible. The charity will usually remind you about this in their acknowledgement or thank you message.

Direct contributions to needy individuals, are generally not deductible as charitable gifts. While it is clear that one can’t deduct handouts made to the homeless, the deductibility of gifts made to crowdfunding postings can be a bit cloudy depending on the fact circumstances.

If a donor contributes to a charitable project that has been posted to a crowdfunding site that is owned and managed by a 501(c)(3) charity, the donation generally will be deductible. If, however, one contributes to a charitable project on a crowdfunding site that is owned and managed by a for-profit company, one needs to be cautious since the deductibility can be impacted by whether the payment platform used by the site sends the gift directly to the specified charity. If the crowdfunding posting, however, is to help a specific named individual (for example to fund a dream overseas trip) there is little chance for donors to claim a deduction.

Finally, the value of volunteer time or services to a charity is not deductible. Out of pocket expenses, such as gas and travel expenses directly related to the volunteer service will usually be deductible.

 

Women have been building stronger, healthier communities for centuries— breaking down barriers, advancing research, and making life-saving discoveries.

In 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell, MD was the first woman to earn a medical degree. Blackwell co-founded an infirmary to help women gain experience as physicians after her graduation. 167 years later in 2016, there were 253,635 female physiciansVirgina Apgar developed the first series of tests determine newborn babies’ health in 1952. The Apgar Score is used in most hospitals worldwide today and works to reduce infant mortality. Dr. Antonia Novella became the first female and first Hispanic U.S. Surgeon General in 1990. While in office, Novella advocated for the rights and health of women, children, and minorities.

These women, and countless more, have been working to make the world a better place.

Now, it’s our turn. Honor their history by working to improve the future: Volunteer with Alzheimer’s Association, Susan G. Komen, and other charities supporting women. Support Women’s Health and help women live longer, healthier lives.

This Women’s History Month, continue the tradition of building stronger, healthier communities—for everyone.

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You take care of your heart and your lungs, but when is the last time to you prioritized kidney health?

Most people are born with two kidneys, and these vital fist-sized organs are responsible for removing waste from the body, regulating blood pressure, controlling the production of red blood cells, producing an active form of Vitamin D that promotes healthy bones, controlling pH levels, and more.

March is National Kidney Month. Use this month to get a kick-start on National Kidney Foundation’s kidney-healthy habits that will help keep your kidneys (and you) running:

  • Eat mindfully: Avoid high sodium foods with high saturated fat content
  • Stay hydrated: Keep a water bottle on hand—dehydration can damage kidneys.
  • Keep moving: Whether you’re taking a walk or hitting the gym, work physical fitness into your routine.
  • Start a conversation: Prevention is the best way to cure kidney disease. Share kidney health resources with friends, family, and coworkers, and make kidney health a group activity.

Your kidneys keep you going. Take the National Kidney Foundation’s advice and Heart Your Kidneys.

February is American Heart Month.

Nearly 85.6 million Americans are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or the after-effects of stroke. Chances are, your coworkers are living with a heart condition or know someone who is. This February, start some heart-healthy habits in your workplace:

  • Initiate a step competition. Physical activity is anything that makes you move your body and burn calories—American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity five days a week. Get your team geared up with fitness trackers and get moving.
  • Allow flexible work schedules. Chronic stress can contribute to heart disease—the leading cause of death for both men and women. Help your employees manage stress by giving them some flexibility. Life happens; allow your employees to cope with it.
  • Host a healthy potluck. Healthy eating is one of the best things you can do to prevent heart disease. Ask employees to bring in their favorite heart-healthy dishes for an office potluck—they can use American Heart Association’s How To Eat Healthy Without “Dieting” guidelines if they aren’t sure what to bring.
  • Share heart healthy resources. Help your employees keep up their healthy habits outside the office with our charity partners’ health resources.
  • Support Women’s Health and Men’s Health. Include Women’s Health and Men’s Health in your workplace giving campaign to support research, preventative care, diagnosis, and treatment so that everyone can live their healthiest, best lives.

Continue reading “5 Heart Healthy Habits At Work”

This Sunday, don’t just join friends and family for the big game—unite with the world in the fight against cancer.

Sunday, February 4 is World Cancer Day. Our charity partners are fighting this Sunday, and every day, to find a cure for cancer and support everyone affected by it:

  • Andy was diagnosed at age 60 with multiple myeloma, a cancer that he lost his first wife to 12 years prior. A treatment involving stem cell transplantation saved his life. Now, Andy rides his bike with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team In Training to fundraise and find a cure for multiple myeloma.
  • Jim was given six months to live after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer. That was 25 years ago. The American Cancer Society funded the scientists who saved Jim’s life.
  • Gideon spent his first Christmas at home for the first time in 2017 after spending his first two in care at  St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Doctors discovered tumors on his legs, arms, face, and stomach when Gideon was only seven months old.

This World Cancer Day, join in the conversation about cancer, beating it, and advancing life-saving research. Share cancer resources and support our trusted charity partners fighting to find a cure: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, Cancer Research Institute, and Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Stay in the game with these healthy options for your big game party.

Huddle up, because our charity partners have created some delicious, healthy alternatives to traditional game day snacks.

Heart healthy game-day treats that leave everyone satisfied? Touchdown!

Congress recently passed a tax bill reducing taxes for the majority of Americans. While this may be good news for some households, the tax change will double the standard deduction and may reduce the incentive to donate to charity—it is estimated to cost charities $12 to 20 billion annually.

This year, if you’re benefiting from tax changes, consider giving back.  Try one of these simple ways to give back, courtesy of the The New York Times.  Our favorite?

  • The tax bill is expected to cost charities up to $20 billion annually, and these charities and the people they support need your help more than ever.

Read more about #GiveItBack in the The New York Times.

Your good fortune can save a life, find a cure, or rebuild a community. It’s easy to give wisely: Community Health Charities has more than 2,000 Better Business Bureau trusted health charities needing your support. We have multiple ways to incorporate workplace giving into your organization’s culture, whether you’re looking to institute payroll deductions in a customizable platform or simply make it easy for employees to give with a Give Now page.

 

Community Health Charities proudly pledged to support #OperationPrevention, in partnership with Milken Institute, Drug Enforcement Administration and Discovery Education to combat opioid misuse in schools, homes, and communities nationwide. The no-cost program offers resources for students, teachers, and parents to combat and prevent addiction. Pledge to spread awareness today.

Take action:  Check out Community Health Charities’ addiction  resources, read one doctor’s take on the opioid crisis, establish a Give Now page or giving campaign to help, and support the work of our charity partners fighting to end addiction: Hazelden Betty Ford FoundationThe National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, and Shatterproof.

This year, don’t make your resolutions about cutting back—make them about giving back.

  • Give yourself mental and physical health. This year, prioritize mental and physical wellbeing. 77% of U.S. workers suffer from at least one long-term health condition, from cancer to diabetes. Take time every day to focus on de-stressing and physically moving, whether you’re doing a crossword puzzle, taking a walk, or making a healthy dinner for your family. Give your employees the same gift of wellness by educating employees and offering our health resources.
  • Give your time. No matter where you live, your community needs your help. Set aside time in 2018 to volunteer. Use our volunteer opportunity locator tool to find organizations in your area supporting the causes you care about. If you’re looking to volunteer with your office, utilize our Volunteer On The Spot guide to make a difference during the workday.
  • Give your support. Congress recently passed a tax bill reducing taxes for the majority of Americans. While this is good news for many, doubling the standard deduction means fewer people will itemize charitable deductions on their taxes and is estimated to cost charities $12 to 20 billion annually. This year, if you saved on your taxes, consider giving back by eating locally or donating financially. Offer your team giving options including Give Now pages or a workplace giving campaign, featuring our causes and over 2,000 trusted charity partners.

New Year, stronger, healthier communities.

This year-end giving season is unlike any other.

Annually, 31% of giving occurs during DecemberHowever, this year, donors are already fatigued. Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and wildfires caused over $15 billion in damage as of October. Puerto Ricans have been living without full power since Hurricane Maria hit the island in September. Wildfires took the lives of 42 people, injured 7,700, and burned over 8,400 homes and buildings. Hurricane Harvey flooded Texas, dumping 27 trillion gallons of rain and leaving an estimated 30,000 people needing temporary shelter. As if that weren’t enough, violent tragedies in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs rocked the nation.

As is tradition, Americans rise up and come together to support those in need, with an outpouring of generosity to rebuild lives and communities.

Meanwhile, the House and Senate are working to pass a bill that could have devastating effects on the number of Americans eligible to write off charitable giving as a tax deduction. Of highest concern is doubling the standard deduction limit currently in place for taxpayers. According to IRS data, this would remove the tax incentive for an estimated $95 billion of annual charitable giving and reduce the number of itemizers from one-third of Americans to about five percent. This could reduce charitable giving by as much as$20 billion.

With all the needs in our country (and world), we can’t afford to lose billions in charitable giving. Now is the time to support the causes that matter most to you.

Read more on The Huffington Post.

Community Health Charities urges all nonprofits across the nation to alert their constituencies to help turn the tide on what could be some very serious and unintended consequences—charities are expected to lose billions of dollars in charitable donations—if the current versions of the Senate and House tax reform bills pass without changes we urgently seek.

We need all Community Health Charities’ charity partners, supporters, and friends to join the thousands of other nonprofits in contacting your elected officials and urging them to protect charitable giving in the Senate tax reform bill. Doubling the standard deduction will eliminate the charitable deduction for 95% of Americans. The result? An estimated $12-20 billion lost in charitable giving. Ask your senator to avoid this devastating consequence by expanding the charitable deduction to all Americans with the Universal Charitable Giving Act.

The House took up and passed its tax bill on Thursday.  The Senate sent a tax bill out of the Finance Committee on Thursday as well. We expect it to go to the floor the week after Thanksgiving. However, it has been a case of “good news” and “bad news” so far.

As of this writing, both the House and Senate raised the limits on how much taxpayers can give from 50 to 60% of their adjusted gross income.  That is good.  In the not-so-good category, neither the House nor the Senate have embraced a universal charitable deduction to preserve the value of the charitable deduction.

The details of the proposed legislation:

What is the same?

Both the Senate and House bills share some of the same provisions:

  • Doubled standard deduction and preservation of the charitable deduction.
  • Increased AGI limits for the charitable deduction for cash gifts from 50% to 60% (Senate sunset after 12/31/2025).
  • Elimination of the Pease limitation (Senate sunset after 12/31/2025).
  • A 1.4% excise tax on investment income of private colleges and universities, and organizations formally related to the institution, with assets valued of at least $250,000 per full-time student.
  • Doubled estate tax and generation-skipping tax exemption to $10 million (Senate sunset after 12/31/2025).
  • A 20% excise tax on executive compensation over $1 million at tax-exempt organizations.

What is different?

There are some key differences. The House version also includes:

  • Streamlined private foundation excise tax to 1.4%.
  • Requirement that donor-advised fund sponsoring organizations disclose inactive fund policies, as well as average amount of grants made from their DAFs.
  • Estate tax and generation-skipping tax repeal after six years.
  • Repeal of the Johnson Amendment, effectively allowing all 501(c)(3) organizations to engage in political speech in the ordinary course of the organization’s business (Sunset after five years).

What comes next:  

Now, the Senate Finance Committee will have to write legislative text based on the provisions that passed on Thursday. The Senate is expected to bring the bill to the floor for a vote the week of November 27, and thereafter the two chambers will have to come to an agreement before the final bill can be sent to the President’s desk. There are many differences between the Senate and House versions, so we expect a lot of change and compromise in the negotiation process.

The problem

During the debate in the Senate Finance Committee, Senators Stabenow (D-MI) and Wyden (D-OR) offered an amendment that would create an above-the-line charitable deduction for non-itemizers with an AGI cap of 60% and a phase-out for high-income taxpayers, similar to the Pease limitation. After Republicans argued that they are maintaining the charitable deduction in tax reform, and claimed that you can only create this policy if you decide not to double the standard deduction, the provision failed on a party-line vote of 14 nays to 12 yeas.

Although both were listed with the original amendments, Senator Thune (R-SD) did not offer the CHARITY Act as an amendment or the extended carryforward rule. The CHARITY Act would streamline the PF excise tax to 1%, expand the IRA charitable rollover to include distributions to donor-advised funds, and declare a sense of the Senate that the scope and value of the charitable deduction should not be diminished in comprehensive tax reform, among other provisions. The extended carryforward rule would make the charitable carryforward window 15 years instead of the 5 year window under current law.

Tax Policy Center and JCT Analyses

New research from the Tax Policy Center (TPC) tells us charitable giving will be affected by the House tax reform bill, and it’s mostly what we already knew. TPC estimates that H.R. 1 could reduce charitable giving by between $12 billion and $20 billion in 2018. In addition, while TPC has yet to publish research on the Senate version, it is likely safe to assume the findings would be similar.

This research is remarkably consistent with a study released earlier this year from the Indiana University (IU) Lilly Family School of Philanthropy that found the proposals considered in the Republican tax reform plan – such as expanding the standard deduction – could reduce charitable giving by as much as $13 billion. The drop in giving comes as a result of reducing the number of those who itemize to just 5% of Americans, which the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) confirmed last week would lead to a reduction of $95 billion being claimed as charitable deductions.

The evidence is now stacking up – the unintended consequence of current tax reform policies under consideration is a reduction in charitable giving.

Universal Charitable Giving Act

As you know, charities have rallied behind a universal charitable deduction as a way to protect against the consequences of an expanded standard deduction. Fortunately, there are options for lawmakers to consider. Just this week on Tuesday, November 14, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) introduced the Senate companion to the Universal Charitable Giving Act, which was originally introduced by Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) in the House in October. As you may recall, the bill would extend an above-the-line charitable deduction to non-itemizers that would be capped at one-third of the standard deduction. So, although nothing was included in the Senate tax package that would ensure more Americans have access to a tax benefit for charitable giving, Senator Lankford’s universal charitable a deduction bill can still be considered by the full Senate, and perhaps even included in their final tax reform bill.

What needs to be done:

Ask your constituencies to contact their senators – and specifically Senator James Lankford (R-OK)— and urge them to protect charitable giving in the Senate tax reform bill. They need to understand that the charitable deduction, in the current iteration, is not being protected.  Again, have your supporters explain how doubling of the standard deduction will eliminate the charitable deduction for 95% of Americans and result in a loss of $12-20 billion in charitable giving. Tell your senator that the way to avoid this devastating consequence is to expand the charitable deduction to all Americans.

Even though the House has already passed its version of tax reform, have them contact their representative and relay the same information. The House and Senate versions of tax reform still need to be reconciled and your elected officials need to understand what the current proposals will do to charitable giving.

Keep in mind that all elected officials will be in their home states and districts this upcoming Thanksgiving week. More than ever before, now is the time for your organization to rally the troops and tell our elected representatives how tax reform will affect your charities and community.

Looking to donate to a cause close to your heart? This #GivingTuesday—November 28, 2017— follow these three steps for a chance to win $500 to donate to your favorite charity from our charity partners.

  • Take a #HealthySelfie that shows you doing something to improve health — it could be eating a healthy snack, using our health resources, hitting the gym, volunteering or giving to make your community healthier, or just taking a break for your mental health.
  • Share your #HealthySelfie on social media. Entries submitted via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will have a chance to win.
  • Tag @HealthCharities, #GivingTuesday, and #HealthySelfie in your submission.

A different winner will be chosen on each platform, based on engagement (so encourage your friends to favorite/like your post). The winner of the Twitter competition will be able to direct $500 to a charity partner of their choice; winners on Instagram and Facebook will be able to direct $250. See list of eligible charities. Be sure to enter only pictures that you have a right to share and post. Thanks to a generous donor for sponsoring this campaign.

Submission deadline is November 28 11:59 PM ET. Engagements are due November 29 9:00 AM ET.

This #GivingTuesday, we’re working to build stronger, healthier communities. Join us for #HealthySelfie and check out six more ways to give this year.

 

As the holidays and giving season approach, it’s a great time to start thinking of ways to give back to your community and the causes important to you.

This year, join us for #GivingTuesday – a national movement focused on charity on the first Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday — and help build stronger, healthier communities.

Here are six ways to give back:

  • Volunteer your time. Our volunteer locator tool helps you find opportunities by zip code or keyword.
  • Support your favorite health cause. Our causes make it easy to support the issues close to your heart—whether it’s children, veterans, women’s health, or disasters. Pick one or create your own custom cause.
  • Share your #HealthySelfie. Follow three simple steps for a chance to win $500 to direct to your favorite charity from our charity partners.
  • Start a workplace giving campaign or create a custom Give Now page. It’s easier than ever to give back to the causes you care about at work with our GivingMatters365 platform or Give Now. These flexible tools are simple to use, plus we offer turnkey campaign materials and resources, and handle the set-up and processing of your campaign.
  • Show some love with the Combined Federal Campaign. If you’re a federal or military employee, you’re eligible to give to the 2017 Combined Federal Campaign. Community Health Charities is one of the campaign’s oldest and largest partners, distributing millions of public sector contributions. Join us this year and support the Combined Federal Campaign to defeat cancer, fight the deadliest diseases, and save lives.
  • Raise awareness and share critical health resources.

Giving Tuesday is November 28 this year, but giving back isn’t limited to one day. Together, we can build stronger, healthier communities all year long.

“It was the first time I was ever hooked to something and would get sick from not using. Then they took away my prescription. I ended up selling all my valuable stuff to buy pills on the streets. Forget some of my obligations. I hated who I had become.”

Jerry Chappell is one of the two million Americans living the nightmare of addiction to prescription pain medications. His story is not only compelling, but all too familiar to those of us who work in addiction medicine.

Addiction to prescription pain medications and heroin is not a new phenomenon. In 2008, I developed and ran an opioid use disorder clinic out of my outpatient practice in rural West Virginia. Although death by overdose was not considered a national epidemic or a political hot topic for the media, my neighbors, colleagues, friends’ parents, and many of the people living in the Ohio Valley were suffering and dying from their addictions.

The two years of engaging patients in a comprehensive medical/behavioral treatment plan, encouraging their participation in peer and community sober support systems, and watching them meet their recovery goals were the most rewarding years of my clinical practice. During these years, I learned that patients can manage their chronic disease when they are managed by qualified physicians, provided with evidence-based medicine, and administered proper medication-assisted treatments (MAT) and urine drug screens (UDS).  In 2010, I closed my practice and took a position in managed care.

The following two years were the most somber and frustrating in my professional career. At first I wondered, “Why are few of my colleagues experiencing the same feelings of reward and accomplishment that I had treating those suffering from addiction? Why are people still dying of overdose?” Then, I started receiving the not-so-infrequent calls, texts, and photos from my medical assistant back in West Virginia. Sometimes she would send snapshots of the latest evening news from her television screen. One after another were sad stories of previous patients having relapsed, been arrested, overdosed, or died. Even while writing this, I am haunted by feelings of guilt and questions of “What if I had stayed? Would they still be alive had I not left them?”

A great deal of my career since then has been dedicated to promoting quality care and services for those with Opioid Use Disorder. Over the last six years, those of us in the payer, or insurance coverage, industry have seen a “perfect storm” of events giving rise to the epidemic we see today. More potent pain medications have been manufactured and sales continue to rise. Increased utilization and demand for addiction services have quickly overwhelmed a system with few addiction specialists. A lack of industry-wide standards have resulted in extreme variance in treatment modalities.

These factors are not the primary reason that the opioid epidemic has received national attention: The face of opioid addiction has changed. Although still in existence, images of the poor, minorities, derelicts, and those on the fringe of society have been replaced by images of the rich, famous, young, and white. Methadone clinics have been replaced by posh destination facilities offering personal training, yoga, seaside views, and five-star culinary. Scholarships and graduation certificates replace the guarantee of transparency, outcomes, and results. An emphasis on “access to care” outweighs the demand for quality.

Fortunately, addiction medicine is now recognized as a medical specialty: research and clinical experience have resulted in standards of care, clinical guidelines, and evidence-based practice. The challenge now is combatting a billion dollar industry beholden to old, ineffective treatment practices, and replacing them with medicine-based and data-driven treatment models like we have for every other epidemic we have faced in modern times.

Perhaps one day the norm will be stories of people getting their lives back, year-over-year decrease in death by overdose, and practices based on science, research, and evidenced-based medicine. Hopefully we all will feel the sense of reward and hope that I did over a decade ago while practicing in rural America.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, utilize Community Health Charities’ opioid and addiction health resources for response toolkits, intervention guidelines, risk factors, and more. To learn more, utilize our charity partners’ additional resources: Shatterproof, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, and National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

About Dr. James

Dr. Frank James earned his law and medical degrees at Southern Illinois University. He is board certified in General, Child and Adolescent and Forensic Psychiatry as well as Addiction Medicine.

Dr. James spent his clinical years providing inpatient and outpatient psychiatric services in underserved areas in the Ohio Valley. He developed a specialty outpatient clinic for opioid use disorder (OUD). His treatment model focused on the integration of group therapy and psychotropic medication management with the use of urine drug screens (UDS) and medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

For the last seven years, Dr. James has worked in managed care. He provides large behavioral health organizations guidance in drafting evidenced-based benefit guidelines specific to OUD treatment and service, including level of care determination, MAT prior authorizations, and UDS coverage determination. His current focus is medical/behavioral integration and alternative payment model development for substance use disorder services.

Dr. James is a member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) Finance Committee and Policy Committee. He is the vice chair of ASAM’s Payer Relations Committee, and alternate to ASAM’s board of directors for Region III.