By Todd Cohen
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Matching over 1,400 youngsters ages five to 18 with adults who work with them one-on-one makes corporate support critical to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte, says Greg Hood, vice president of programs.
The nonprofit, a United Way agency that serves Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties, counts on corporate sponsors for roughly one in four of its volunteers, Hood says.
But corporate sponsors give more than money, he says.
The national office of Arby’s, for example, helps Big Brothers Big Sisters plan its annual spring golf tournament, while the company’s local office makes its tour bus available the week of the event so representatives of the nonprofit can visit schools and talk to students about its values and programs.
“We try to take advantage of every opportunity we can to recruit volunteers as well as raise money,” Hood says. “Without corporate funding and volunteers, we could not grow.”
Corporate support also can take the form of expertise and “skill sets not already available in the workforce at a nonprofit,” says Diane Wright, senior vice president for resource development at United Way of Central Carolinas.
In separate efforts to develop a branding initiative and Six Sigma planning that uses data to drive the improvement of business processes, for example, United Way received expert advice from Barbara Desoer, now chair of its board, and from her staff at Bank of America, where she is chief technology and fulfillment executive.
A bank official who handles sponsorship packages for the company also has advised United Way employees in developing the organization’s first sponsorship plan, which will be presented to the corporate community next spring.
In addition to providing expertise, pitching in on a range of tasks, and boosting operating efficiency, Wright says, corporate volunteers can help spread a nonprofit’s message.
“Year-round partnerships with businesses build a larger cadre of ambassadors or a network of people who know a lot about your organization, and share that,” she says.
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