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O.C. nonprofits, continued ...Published: October 01, 2011

“My life is a life of courtship,” says Clecak. “It’s about a lot of first dates. Sometimes, if we are lucky and have done our job, we get a second and third date. Then we know we have found a believer in our cause.”
   
At Goodwill, the personal touch still yields the highest return. Suydam said the agency’s board members are required to participate in frequent “thank-a-thons,” in which they personally call donors and thank them for their support. “Even when we just leave a voice message, we have found that when we extend that personal thank you, there is a 75 percent chance that the individual will give again.”
   
The giving equation, says Scott Evans, board president of the Orange County chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, has not changed substantially in a half century. The vast majority of nonprofit donations still come from individuals, not corporations. However, the perception is often the other way around, because companies seek the headlines and goodwill that is associated with large gifts to boost their bottom line.
   
McQuaid says corporate giving is increasingly being dictated by employees. Beyond writing a check, companies are exploring more ways to directly participate in assisting nonprofits. Employee engagement with causes and agencies is a growing part of job satisfaction for many workers, particularly among highly skilled Gen-Yers who are making decisions about their business address based on a company’s culture of social responsibility. Corporate philanthropy is on the rise, and many firms have moved the decision-making about donating from finance to the marketing department to better leverage the opportunities for the company’s brand and messaging to its workforce.
   
“Many companies are taking a more meaningful look at giving,” says McQuaid, a 35-year veteran of Orange County nonprofit service. “They want to align their company with initiatives that match their product and service lines. They also want to support their employee base by matching, with real dollars, individual contributions – or by providing leave time to volunteer and do community service.”
   
While many large corporations look to redefine their corporate-giving strategies in today’s choppy economy, companies such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America continue to see value in giving millions of dollars to local nonprofits, despite their own challenges. Bank of America in recent years has given $2.5 million to area groups, and its employees last year worked more than 27,000 volunteer hours. Intellectual capital is an equally prized commodity, and many midlevel and senior managers at Wells Fargo serve on nonprofit boards across the county as a way to give back.
   

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President & CEO, United Way Orange County



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