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Target your Involvement

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | February 7, 2017
As we roll out of the first month of the year, many of us on a personal or business level have made a New Year’s resolution to make a social impact in the community we are in. Whether it is volunteering time or making a financial contribution, individuals need to make informed decisions on how to target their involvement within organizations and the causes they support. 
First determine what you are passionate about personally and even professionally. If you are looking to make a “contribution” on behalf of your business, make sure the organizational goals of the nonprofit can be seen as an extension of your company’s mission. Supporting something that jibes with your business will make it easier to get your team/employees on board and will also make sense to your clients when you promote your involvement. 
Once you have found an organization you are interested in, it is time for research! Checking out a few facts about a nonprofit or charity is a great way to make sure you are investing in an entity that is legitimate. Confirming an organization’s tax status is often the first step. In the nonprofit world you will hear a lot about 501(c)(3), (4), or (6). Check out this link to learn the differences: Non profit differences. If you are wondering, Emporia Main Street is a 501 (c)(6). 
Next, it is important to review the mission statement of the organization you are looking to support and ask yourself if their goals and achievements align with you and/or your business. Lots of organizations boast about the causes they “support” or what they “can do”, but are they actually doing it? Ask about tangible results. 
A lot of organizations say they want to “make the world a better place” -which is great and who doesn’t want that? But ask them how they plan to achieve their goal and what steps have they currently taken toward success. Another tactic to use is looking at comparable organizations. If they both claim to have like missions-who is producing results? 
Let’s talk money,  

ask where your dollar or time commitment is headed!  

 A transparent organization should be ready, willing and able to discuss their finances, share information and provide literature about their work. If you are interested in volunteering, ask how many hours where logged from volunteers in the last year and what projects are available for you to get involved with. Volunteer opportunities are also a good way to get your employees involved with the community and create a common goal for your team to work towards. 
Volunteering or providing resources to a local non profit or charity can be tremendously gratifying, and our community benefits greatly from these contributions. However, it is important that you know exactly who you are working with and that you are truly impacting the cause you are passionate about it. 

About the Author

Casey Woods, Executive Director

Before accepting the director position in March of 2009, Casey worked in both retail and agricultural jobs in the family businesses. A lifelong resident of the Emporia Area, Casey was a ten year volunteer for Emporia Main Street prior to his appointment as director. During that time he served as the board president and chair of the Economic Vitality Committee.

Casey also serves as a partner in PlaceMakers, LLC, a consulting firm that routinely works with both large and small communities, and their businesses, to promote sustainable economic growth through community and economic development practices. Casey consults with businesses, organizations and communities to understand their market capacity and fill vacant spaces. He has been involved in two projects that included crowdfunding as a part of their overall business funding strategies, Radius Brewing and Twin Rivers Winery & Gourmet Shoppe.