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5 Forms of Capital You Can Use to Give Back on National Nonprofit Day

August 16, 2021 | Posted By: Connor Watkins

Our lives would be very different without nonprofits. Your local hospital, your child’s activities, your museum, your pet shelters, and more are all most likely nonprofits and play a vital role in making Lexington a safe and welcoming place to live, work, and play. National Nonprofit Day celebrates these impactful organizations and is an opportunity for us to reflect on how we can support them. Find a local nonprofit to support here

Traditionally, we think of donations of time, talent and treasure as our only ways to support nonprofits. But, giving back does not have to be limited to these assets.  Ambassador James A. Joseph introduced the idea of SMIRF at the Council on Foundation conference in 2014. Joseph explained that the SMIRF plan “calls for an integrated use of social, moral, intellectual, reputational, and of course, financial capital for making a community more of a community.” While Joseph’s speech was aimed at community foundations, his ideas about these forms of capital can be used by each of us when thinking about giving back.

How do you or your business use these five forms of capital to give back? First, identify a nonprofit that aligns with your values and passions. If you need a starting point, visit MidlandsGives.org for a list of vetted Lexington nonprofits. It’s often helpful to contact the nonprofit and ask them how you can help them meet their goals or overcome a current challenge. Then, apply your SMIRFs as you give back:

Social Capital: Your network can be a powerful tool to help connect nonprofits to vital resources in the community. For example, does the nonprofit need a connection to a new audit firm, a marketing consultant or legal advice? Or, if you are active on social media, consider using your influence to help raise awareness of a nonprofit or cause.

Moral Capital: We can model by example and in speech how to address important issues and take care of our community. Talk with your favorite nonprofit about how you can be an advocate for their cause. Some examples may be scheduling volunteer events for your employees, joining a speakers bureau, or writing a letter to elected officials to advocate for change.

Intellectual Capital: Knowledge helps move issues forward. Giving of your knowledge is a simple way to employ your expertise and talents to help a nonprofit. Are you knowledgeable about technology? Help a nonprofit maximize the technology available to them. Do you specialize in repairs or building services? Lend your hand at helping a nonprofit fix their facilities.

Reputational Capital: Whether you realize it or not, you influence others around you. Your involvement with a nonprofit signals to other people that the cause is important. You can use this reputational capital by serving on a nonprofit’s board, participating in an event or simply recommending them to friends and family.

Financial Capital: Most of us think of financial capital when we think of giving. Monetary donations are certainly an impactful way to support a cause. But did you know that you can also donate other forms of financial assets? Stocks, life insurance, real estate, charitable bequests, and even retirement accounts can all be used to support nonprofits.

As you can see, there are numerous ways for you to give back. You don’t have to be rich or famous to make a difference in our community. If each of us gives even a small amount, it can lead to tremendous impact.

Cherise Arrendale is the director of strategic initiatives and communications at Central Carolina Community Foundation (CCCF), a nonprofit organization that connects charitable individuals and nonprofits to causes in our community. To learn more about how CCCF can assist your business with meeting your philanthropic goals, visit www.yourfoundation.org