Business philanthropy is a smart give-and-take

Diana Bennett, CEO and co-founder of Paragon Gaming, makes a few remarks after receiving the 2015 Eric Hilton Philanthropy Award during the fourth annual Philanthropy Leaders Summit, Friday Feb 6, 2015.

What do Wynn Resorts, Barrick Gold and Rachel’s Kitchen have in common?

All have strategic corporate philanthropy programs that not only achieve social change but also make good business sense.

Philanthropy, which takes its root in a Greek word meaning “love of humanity,” can take many forms for businesses and corporations: cash donations, in-kind products and services, volunteering, mentoring and more.

Finding the perfect balance of corporate giving and return on investment was a central theme at the recent Philanthropy Leaders Summit. At the event, 175 of the community’s philanthropic leaders gathered to hear about trends and best practices from experts and discuss how every business and individual, no matter their budget, can make a difference through intentional and strategic philanthropy.

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Sentari Minor, of Social Venture Partners Arizona, speaks during the fourth annual Philanthropy Leaders Summit, Friday Feb 6, 2015.

Sentari Minor, director of partner encouragement and education at Social Venture Partners Arizona, spoke about venture philanthropy, which pairs venture capital strategies with social impact. Philanthropists become investors, contributing financial resources and in-kind goods and services. They also volunteer hours and management help to nonprofits.

This is a new idea for Nevada, but the concept was compelling and energizing for the audience.

Also at the summit, Jeremy Aguero, principal of Applied Analysis, gave an update on Nevada’s corporate philanthropy. In 2014, the state’s corporate sector contributed about $134 million to charitable organizations, or about $487 per employee and 0.22 percent of revenue. Also last year, more than 260,000 volunteer hours were logged by Nevada workers.

What’s the outlook for 2015?

Moonridge Group, an organization focused on growing philanthropy in Las Vegas, anticipates several trends:

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From left, Lindy Schumacher, Punam Mathur and Julie Murray present the 2015 Eric Hilton Philanthropy Award during the fourth annual Philanthropy Leaders Summit, Friday Feb 6, 2015.

• An increasing focus on women as donors. We expect this trend to grow.

• Investing in leadership and diversity. From 1992 to 2011, foundation investment in leadership represented just 1 percent of overall funding. However, large national foundations are starting to invest in funding talent and professional development. We expect local foundations and corporations will follow suit.

• More sustainable and strategic crowdfunding. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised almost $100 million with a campaign that went viral. We expect more of that this year. Corporations could lead the charge, given their resources and expertise with social media.

• Collaboration in giving and doing. We expect to see more funders working together to encourage nonprofits to collaborate and work across sectors.

Tags: The Sunday

Julie Murray is principal and CEO of Moonridge Group. Anna Auerbach is chief operating officer of Moonridge Group.