future state history of philanthropy

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill


Charitable giving  is encoded in our DNA at Future State. Inspired by her own personal experience, founder, Meryl Natchez saw an opportunity to  pay it forward by creating non-profit, Opportunity Junction.  Meryl created Opportunity Junction to provide low-income families the chance to thrive through meaningful work. Meryl’s passion for giving back is at the core of culture at Future State.  


Our founder’s passion to give back continues with our current CEO, Shannon Adkins, leadership team, and our employees. Together we are committed to finding ways to give back. Shannon recently wrote about how Future State goes beyond the check to support our team members in their commitments to the community. It’s certainly a prerequisite to have leadership commitment AND involvement in company philanthropic activities to embed giving back into a corporate culture. 


Read below for ten ways to create a culture that gives back. 

1. Embed actions that reflect your mission, vision, and values.

Cash is king but holds no power with your employees – you need to make business decisions that align with the DNA of your company’s mission, vision, and values. It’s inspiring to see so many purpose-driven companies making a difference today – from Salesforce to Kaiser and to growing B Corp Companies like Future State.

2. Make the time, no matter how busy you are.

We get it. EVERYONE is busy trying to balance time for work, family, and other obligations. Try allocating time at work for volunteer activities to make it possible for team members to contribute to their organization of choice. Volunteer projects can be a way for employees to take on stretch projects and learn new skills. This time can be applied to work on team pro-bono projects or individual passion projects. It shows employees that the organization is committed to making the time to give back and allows new ways for employees to connect with each other, their community, and balance their lives.

3. Be like Mr. Rodgers, say “Hello [to your] neighbor!”

Maybe you’ve seen the TV show, it’s a classic. Well, never forget the struggle – open your door and offer up resources whenever possible. For example, access to suitable work space is one of the biggest challenges for a myriad of organizations and non-profits. Just think, offering it up to an organization that you align with can be a make or break opportunity for them. 

Added benefits from being a friendly neighbor

  • It can also allow greater awareness of the org’s mission with your employees
  • Employees can meet new people that may form lasting relationships 
  • Be at the center of innovation that can lead to new opportunities

4. Set the tone from the beginning.

Require senior leaders in your organization to be on the board of a non-profitor at the bare minimum, require your leadership team to demonstrate how they are contributing to their communityThis develops your leaders skills, networks, and exhibits commitment to giving back!

5. Drive team building events from 0 to 100, real quick! 

Nothing beats a new experience than to build team relationships while giving back. Whether it’s a Habitat for Humanity project (Maureen Dollente – nice work for spearheading!), cleaning up a lake, supporting a food bank, or volunteering at a homeless center – team building events create new perspectives and solidify shared values. Simply put, it’s a time to talk, work, and help each other. Moreover, our teams are always learning something new about each other, which ultimately allows us to break past any assumptions that we may have had about each other while making a significant impact in the community.

6. It’s 2017, be a champion for #VirtualEvents

Virtual teams are becoming the norm. Don’t leave anyone behind, you want to create opportunities where everyone (no matter where they reside in the world) can participate in giving back. Use your internal collaboration tools to share progress, experiences, and pictures to stay connected. Events like the Alzheimer’s Longest Day event allow an organization to create a team page on their website – anyone can sign-up, participate together, or each commit to an activity that you can do across the country or the world!

7. Work hard, reward hard!

Who doesn’t love a party! Gala’s are wonderful fundraising activities and often swanky events. But don’t just send rewards to your executives. Give all levels of the organization a chance for a night out to have fun with team members, represent the company, and get to know an organization more deeply. Have a contest, drawing, or select a cross-functional group of employees to go as a reward for their outstanding philanthropic contributions to the community. 

8. Paying it forward starts during the hiring process.

Looking good on paper is only part 1 of the hiring process for recruiters. Make sure to inquire not just on a candidate’s skills and behaviors for the specific role, but how do their values align with your organization. 
  • What organizations do they volunteer for? 
  • What inspires them to do the volunteer work? 

9. Make it a family affair.

The more the merrier. A co-worker once told me, “It’s hard to stay mad at someone for long once you’ve hung out with their family,so why not add an element of giving back to the family picnic or create a give back activity that the whole family can participate in. Many organizations are happy to have help from all generations.

10. Share the love, spotlight your rock star employees.  

In your recognition program highlight the impact your rock stars are making to their respective communities, as well as work-related accomplishments. Of course, always talk to the individual beforehand to make sure they can and want to share what they are working on. In the same spirit, give a shout out to an organization that the company is supporting AND share each team member’s unique volunteer organizations + efforts. 

Ready to give back?! 

Drop us a line on Facebook/LinkedIn for additional best practices on how to get started. Also, feel free to reach out directly via email, my door is always open!