Give back locally
We recognize that nonprofits are critical to the health of our global communities. But most community-based nonprofits have significantly fewer resources than larger charities that have endowment funds and sizable operating budgets.
Those larger charities are important. But when we think about the cumulative impact we can have by contributing to grassroots-level nonprofits in local communities, it is easy to see how the rumble of positive change can grow organically. One person at a time.
As an entirely remote company, Aha! can impact many community organizations. This is what inspired us to develop a unique model for corporate giving. Rather than having the company identify causes and organizations to support, we have established a new type of corporate-giving model. It is guided by individuals on the team.
Allow the team to decide
The goal is not just to fund worthy community organizations, but to encourage our team to get involved in their community and learn more about nonprofits. So we created specific guidelines and encourage each Aha! teammate to submit a short application on behalf of the nonprofit they want to champion.
Every application is reviewed by our internal Aha! Cares committee. Recipients are announced for the following year at our December all-company gathering. (We call these "onsites.")
We believe that this program is not solely for remote companies. It is not just for companies with many locations either. This employee-centric model of giving is perfect for companies of all sizes that want their teams to drive charitable activities. This is why we are sharing the mechanics of how we built our program — to inspire you to do the same at your work. We included examples for you to download below so you can get started building your own program.
Focus on people's basic needs
While there are many phenomenal organizations that provide incredibly valuable services, our program is focused on helping nonprofits that assist people who need food, safety, and shelter. There is no set minimum or maximum monetary contribution level. Aha! teammates let us know the amount requested by the organization and the impact it will have in the community.
The funding application verifies that the organization is:
- Within 50 miles of where the teammate lives
- A certified nonprofit (certifications range by country, but in the U.S. this generally means a 503-C registration)
- Supporting community members' basic needs in the form of food, safety, and shelter
- Established, having served the community for at least 5 years
- Lean, with 20 or fewer full-time paid staff members (no limit on part-time or unpaid volunteers)
- Funded through donations and other fundraising efforts — not membership dues
- Volunteer dependent
- Audited annually (ideally by a third-party accounting firm)
You could call it a success disaster. When we first announced that we would be funding local nonprofits, we had a flurry of interest from the team. We were prepared with a carefully crafted application form and email templates for the team to use when interacting with the nonprofits they were championing.
We provide a draft email that teammates can send to the chosen nonprofit.
After the teammate has spoken with the nonprofit about their needs and interest in Aha! Cares funding, the teammate fills out the application on behalf of the organization.
A draft email is provided to teammates to send to their nonprofit, letting them know they were selected for funding.
Measure the impact
We are purposeful about both how much money we will contribute as well as understanding how that money will be used. So we want to understand the actual impact of the funds — what are the measurable results? This is very tangible. For example, we contributed $10,000 to a food bank to purchase an industrial food freezer. The increased storage capacity now allows them to support 200 more hungry families each month.
The teammate fills out a form that captures information about the people who anonymously benefited from the funding, quotes from the nonprofit, and pictures that are approved and appropriate to share within our organization.
If you are seriously considering creating a similar program, please reach out to us — we would be happy to share more about what we have learned and the impact Aha! Cares has had.