David Aylor | Philanthropy

David Aylor is an experienced attorney and dedicated philanthropist

Tag: Nonprofits

David Aylor—Corporate Philanthropy

Stories From The New Age of Corporate Philanthropy

Businesses, whether recent startups or established corporate giants, are no longer the faceless entities they used to be. In an age of information, where skepticism is the norm and data about companies can be uncovered with a little digging, companies are now placed under increased pressure to both be transparent and give back to others.

The culture of corporate philanthropy is very much at odds with the desires of investors, with their heavy emphasis on the bottom line and improving profits. However, any business can take steps to improve its corporate philanthropy programs and make an impact in an effectual way that does not detract from their financial interests. I’d like to take the time to talk about some companies that are doing philanthropy right.

Pepsi

Despite an ill-fated commercial that many criticized as trivializing activist movements, Pepsi has a number of philanthropic initiatives that have hit the mark when it comes to social change. The company has embraced the trend of donation matching its employees, matching even higher if the employee in question is a frequent volunteer. Their list of causes are tailored to their organization, including sustainable agriculture and access to food and water.

Some of their projects have aimed to directly improve communities, such as Mother Water Cellar, aimed at bringing water purification and storage systems to residents of rural areas. At home, Pepsi spearheads the Food For Good Initiative, a program that serves free meals to inner city children.

The Nerdery

Proof that philanthropic projects can go beyond directly giving to disadvantaged groups, The Nerdery software company addressed a need for better web resources among nonprofits. The Overnight Website Challenge is a 24-hour event in which volunteering web developers work to remake a lackluster nonprofit website—and there are many in existence.

Oftentimes, due to limited resources, nonprofits are not able to dedicate their time and funds to setting up a good website. The Nerdery helps alleviate these concerns, giving organizations a vehicle with which to best deliver their message.

Microsoft

Bill Gates is no stranger to philanthropy, falling behind only Warren Buffet in terms of charitable spending. With this in mind, it is unsurprising that Microsoft has also promoted giving back. The company has come a long way since 1983, when employees raised $17,000 for nonprofit organizations. Since then, it has donated over $1 billion, in part because of their gift matching program with employees.

In addition to distributing funds, Microsoft seeks to improve the technological capabilities of nonprofits by donating computers to worthy organizations. These gifts span 125 countries and are tailored to an organization’s needs with the intent of modernizing their programs.

Reed Construction Data

Part of an effective corporate philanthropy program is leveraging a business’s unique talents and capabilities to make a difference. Nobody understands this more than Reed Construction Data, who, in addition to more traditional charitable giving, takes time every year for an event called a “blitz build.” During this time, a collection of volunteering construction professionals work to renovate a shelter or nonprofit facility in a deserving community.

The company takes particular pride in working to give veterans the means to land on their feet. Recent projects have centered around helped veterans as well as those displaced by the recent series of hurricanes.

David Aylor—Philanthropy in Law

Philanthropy in Law: Pro Bono Work Among Lawyers

When Mildred Loving penned a desperate letter to then-attorney general Robert Kennedy asking for help, he sent her to the ACLU, who chose to take the case pro bono. Mildred, a black woman, and her husband Richard, a white man, were imprisoned in the state of Virginia for breaking the state’s long-standing anti-miscegenation laws, and as a part of their punishment, the couple had to leave their pastoral home in the countryside for twenty-five years. Mildred hated life in the city Washington, D.C., and longed to return home to Virginia, so she enlisted the help of the ACLU, who referred her to novice lawyers Bernard S. Cohen and Philip J. Hirschkop. The two took on the case pro bono, and in 1967, the Supreme Court ruled that any and all miscegenation laws were unconstitutional.

Lawyers have often used pro bono work advance social progress and contribute their skills to the greater good of society heavily since the 1960s. Unfortunately, public defenders are usually too swamped with cases to take on much if any pro bono work, but those in the private sector often choose to balance their heightened bills with free work for those in need, often for civil liberties cases.  According to a 2012 ABA survey, lawyers who work for themselves and those in large firms do the most pro bono work — each group averaging over sixty hours of pro bono work per annum.

Elite law schools train lawyers specially for pro bono cases that they suspect could alter future interpretations of the law by means of a Supreme Court appearance. Throughout US history, lawyers have utilized a handy shortcut through the legislative branch via a Supreme Court decision. The NPR spinoff podcast More Perfect delves deep into the history of SCOTUS rulings as a means of rewriting laws in a congressional composition unfriendly to an idea. Some of the biggest cases that the Supreme Court has ruled on, from issues of same-sex relationships to desegregation to gerrymandering, have drawn intense criticism from commentators and legislators alike claiming that the Court was overstepping its bounds. Since the infamous case of Baker v Carr, SCOTUS has ruled on more and more political and legislative issues, which has only spurred more impetus for lawyers to take on pro bono cases.

Both left- and right-leaning lawyers in training enroll in “clinics” on how to prepare a potentially-monumental briefing for the Supreme Court.

In recent years, lawyers noticed that middle-income citizens were falling through the cracks in terms of the need for service. The same way that social safety net benefits cut off before recipients are earning a living wage, often those who need lawyers appear on paper not to need the same intense level of assistance that the poorest of the poor need. As such, lawyers coined the phrase “Low Bono” to describe reduced-cost services for those who can afford small fees but not the usually steep price tag of a top-tier lawyer. The phrase also describes smaller-scale pro bono work that won’t necessarily make it into the history books but will make a huge difference in the lives of the people.

david aylor-how to be a broke philanthropist

How to be a Broke Philanthropist

Common knowledge dictates that a philanthropist by definition is someone so wealthy that they can donate entire libraries to colleges or single-handedly repair an economy or pay off their caddy’s student loan debt. While many aspire to this level of wealth, you don’t have to be this loaded to practice philanthropy. Even if you make an average salary, there are lots of ways you can donate small sums of money that will make a big difference to organizations and people in need. Here are some ways you can practice philanthropy even if you’re a little bit broke.

Pledge $5 per month to your favorite organization. Many nonprofits rely heavily on donations and contributions to plan out their activities. While surprise lump-sums are wonderful, it’s helpful to such organizations to have pledges that they can count on so they can plan their fiscal years in advance. Even if the amount you can contribute is small, that “steady income” is invaluable.

Collect spare change. While it may not seem like much, a year’s worth of spare change could add up over time. At the end of a week, empty your purse or pockets into a jar, and every year or so, count it up and donate the money to a charity or nonprofit of your choice. Not only will you get to enjoy the thrill of seeing how much you’ve been able to collect over time, but can see how a little forethought can help a cause a lot.

Use your birthday to raise money for a cause. While variations on this idea have been in existence for some time, many have started harnessing their birthdays to raise money for a charity of their choice. Facebook recently rolled out a integrated way for people to contribute to a cause directly on their personal pages, and other sites offer similar services. Rather than collect a whole bunch of stuff you don’t need, you can ask your friends and family to support a good cause instead.

Always “round up.” Many retailers will ask if you’d like to “round up” your order to the next dollar so that the leftover cents go to a charity. Again, this may not seem like very much money, since it’s guaranteed to be under a dollar, but if everyone at a certain store does it, that money will add up quickly. Never pass up the little ways to give back.

Contribute portions from proceeds. There are countless apps for selling stuff you don’t need anymore. From Vinted to Craigslist to Letgo, many young people are taking advantage of such apps to purge unnecessary items from their homes and make a little cash on the side. As you sell off clothes and appliances you don’t use anymore, save a certain percentage to donate to a charity or nonprofit of your choice. That way, you’re not losing out on any money you were counting on from a paycheck, and you’re still helping out an organization near and dear to your heart.

Promoting the Modern Nonprofit—David Aylor

Promoting the Modern Nonprofit—Strategies For Reaching Out

While nonprofit organizations generally put their budgets toward fundraisers and awareness campaigns, more have decided to allocate resources for general promotion and a stronger web presence. One of the biggest problems with modern philanthropy is the sheer number of causes competing for attention at any given time. While many may be noble, without proper marketing techniques, nonprofits have no way to reliably get the message out. For that matter, the practice of raising awareness can fall flat if an organization lacks the infrastructure and good messaging to direct interested individuals to donate or otherwise contribute.

It’s worth the time and the money for nonprofits to invest in marketing strategies to be heard above the noise. Even for individual philanthropists, it’s worth considering adopting some of these tactics to best champion their cause of choice.

Provide value on social media.

Creating social media platforms is only the first step for a nonprofit looking to promote. While Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and other sites are great for informing followers about events and donation drives, this is only effective if there are followers willing to give back. In order to fully leverage social media, nonprofits will need to first engage with their audience. Organizations that post regularly about their initiatives or even about the causes that they work with form a better relationship with their audience by keeping them informed and providing interesting content. Contests, polls, or other incentives to engage are also possible to keep them talking and passionate about a cause.

Tell a story.

When it comes to the type of content that organizations post online, nonprofits should be discerning and aim to frame their work in an interesting way. The best way to do this is to tell a story; each organization should ask itself about what they are aiming to accomplish and what steps they need to take to get there. Use examples of projects in the past, and use faces of volunteers to make the story personal. It’s not just about the cause; it’s about who is affected by it and who has worked to make things better.

Video is also good for storytelling, as it adds more depth to what’s being told. Consider including interviews with key individuals and live footage from recent projects.

Create a strong website.

Web development has become dominated in recent years by the idea that creating a powerful experience for visitors is key in forming favorable impressions of sites. Nonprofits can work to tell their stories on their sites as well as providing a wealth of information for anyone interested in the cause. Like social media, a website will have to provide value to its visitors; keep it updated to keep an audience coming back repeatedly. One way to do that is to start a blog about current events in the field that an organization works in. Another important website tenet for nonprofits is to include a call to action; make it explicit what you want interested individuals to do if they would like to help, and include well-marked places on your website to easily facilitate this.

Pay for advertising.

This one isn’t for everyone, but paying for online advertising can get the word out about an organization. Advertising may not be for nonprofits with smaller budgets, and working with local businesses that may be willing to strike a deal to promote an organization may be necessary. Consider talking to a professional on which forms of advertising generate the most leads, and work to create an ad that is on-brand, distinctive, and again, spurs the viewer to action.