Have you ever wondered how to find a nonprofit to support? On this episode, we're diving into GiveSmartOKC, the Community Foundation's online platform to help donors research and make informed decisions about their charitable giving.
Visit occf.org to learn more!
When you look around Oklahoma City, you might be surprised to learn that we are home to 1,200 nonprofit organizations. Some of them have been around for a long, long time, responding to the needs of the community. Have you ever wondered how to find a nonprofit that you'd like to support? The Oklahoma City Community Foundation has a unique platform called GiveSmartOKC. This is an online tool the Community Foundation launched to provide donors with the research to help them make informed choices about their charitable giving.
Today, companies across Oklahoma City large and small recognize the importance of being good community stewards, and they take corporate-social responsibilities seriously. Some companies, like Bank of Oklahoma, are working in partnership with the Community Foundation so many of their employees have the right resources to make sound decisions when it comes to charitable giving.
On the show today, we will be speaking with Evan Walter with the Bank of Oklahoma and Rebecca Parks the manager of GiveSmartOKC right here with the Community Foundation. Let's bring in Rebecca Parks to talk about the GiveSmartOKC tool, how it works, who can use it, as well as the advantages of using it. Rebecca, welcome to Creating Impact Through Giving.
Thank you, Dan. I'm really excited to be here today.
Well, we are glad you were here. Rebecca, you're the manager of GiveSmartOKC, and since you've taken on this position, you seem to be doing an incredible job in encouraging non-profit organizations to jump on board creating profiles. I want to jump in and kind of talk a little bit about how all of this works, that good with you?
Okay. Why don't you tell us a little bit about GiveSmart and how this online tool actually works?
Yeah. GiveSmartOKC is a free online resource administered by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. It features verified non-profit profile information, so non-profits come in, they create profiles with me. I work with them directly one-on-one, and they tell me about the organization, its impact, the programs, they list their board members on it. You can have financial information out the wazoo in it. There's just a depth of information in GiveSmart.
Now my understanding is that right here in the Oklahoma City metro, we've probably got well over 1,000 nonprofits. That's a lot. You're right.
That's a lot, yeah.
That's a lot of non-profit organizations here. I want to ask a little bit, it just sounds like such an exciting tool and a real interesting way for nonprofits to engage in the community and others to engage with nonprofits. How many nonprofits in the OKC area are currently using GiveSmart with you right now?
Yeah, so we have 368 nonprofit profiles, which is really exciting. I think this is the highest we've ever been in nonprofits, so it's awesome. I'm really excited.
I think that's outstanding. How do you reach all of these nonprofits and tell us a little bit about the big advantages that some of the nonprofit receives for being part of GiveSmart?
Yeah, so a lot of them usually come in through our iFund program. So, we have this grant program called iFund, field of interest funds for those of you that don't know what it is. We have four different service areas; Access to Health Care, Services for the Elderly, Culture and Community and Opportunities for Children. Part of the requirements to be funded through those programs is to have a GiveSmartOKC profile. That's where I see a lot of people coming in. They don't really know what it is at first, but then once they go through it, they realize, oh, this is a really great organization self-assessment tool. They're asking the questions that maybe you don't always get asked whenever you first start out a nonprofit. It goes into a lot of detail. It's an entry point for a lot of OCCF's grant funding. And then, we also have great corporate partnerships that also use GiveSmart to research verified charities in central Oklahoma and that's how they kind of inform their charitable giving. They can see this nonprofit's verified, it's vetted by trusted staff at the Community Foundation. They know that their donation's going to be used how they want it to be used.
Absolutely. I'm going to get into some of those corporate partnerships in a moment. Before we do that, I want to talk a little bit about how donors can engage. If I'm a donor or if you're a donor out there and you're listening to this podcast right now, and you've got a particular passion, an area of interest that you'd like to maybe create some kind of an impact, whether it's animal welfare or services for the elderly or children, you can go to GiveSmart, that's www.GiveSmartOKC.org and you can find right now about 368, almost 370 non-profits already with profiles on there.
Absolutely, and you can filter by those topic areas.
How does that work?
If you're interested in learning more about animal-serving organizations, you just go into GiveSmartOKC.org, click out of the splash screen. You can take a tour if you wanted to, if you're not so sure how to use the website, there's a really helpful tour on there. But, you can just filter by topics. Animals is one of 11 topic areas that we have on there. It'll filter out the organizations that identify themselves as animal-serving organizations. You can go even deeper by searching keywords. Maybe you want to find a program that feeds pets of the homeless people. It's really easy. You can find all that information just in GiveSmartOKC.
One of the things I think is cool about it too, Rebecca, is it looks like you can actually find a nonprofit by zip code. If, let's say you live on the south side and you want to help somebody close to home, you can jump on that website, figure out a certain passion or a certain interest that you're, that you'd like to consider donating to and find somebody close to you, correct?
Absolutely. You can absolutely do it that way, filtering by zip codes and location. Something that's really interesting. We do have a map on our website, it functions very similar to Google Map for nonprofits in central Oklahoma. You can also do data research on that side. If you're interested in maybe contributing, volunteering your time to an organization, trying to provide services to people who don't have high internet access rates, you can actually go through our system and look up percentages of the population that are affected most by low internet access rates and then find out which organizations are in that area making an impact with that certain cause area.
Wow that's outstanding, I mean, so this thing really goes deep. I had no idea.
Wow! That is incredible. I want to go back, you mentioned partnerships with corporations a second ago. I want to kind of go deeper into that. You all partner with corporations across Oklahoma City. How do these partnerships work and what are some of the benefits that they too can receive by using this GiveSmart tool?
Well, these are pretty established partnerships. We partner with Bank of Oklahoma and their Together We Give program. It is their employee giving, and each month a certain employee gets awarded a $200 grant that they can donate out to any organization that is featured on GiveSmartOKC. An employee can choose from 368 profiles and find one that really aligns with their values and what they want to see their financial impact going towards.
I know that when we're talking about these nonprofits creating profiles and they want to be part of this platform, how do you find these organizations, Rebecca?
It really comes from the staff at the Community Foundation. A lot of the time we'll sit in on meetings and they'll tell me about certain organizations and say, I think they'd be eligible for a GiveSmart profile, you should reach out to them, and so I will and get that process going. A lot of our Charitable Organization Endowment partners are also on GiveSmart. We have 230 of those. They come in from a variety of ways, but I don't know, I just love working with all the nonprofits and trying to get as many as I can on there.
It's just to increase their visibility and community, and it's also great for our corporate partners and our donors, our community members, to find a variety of organizations to meet their needs.
Well, and you mentioned Bank of Oklahoma, that's a big company, and I'm sure that whatever that partnership looks like, that it certainly makes their job a lot easier when it comes to financial giving, charitable giving, I should say, to some of these organizations.
Absolutely. How good does it feel to give out money? It's awesome. I'm just so happy that we have that partnership with them.
I know that you have really taken this GiveSmart program by the horns and have really run with it and are doing some wonderful things with this platform. My understanding is you also hold training sessions, right, for people that are just getting their nonprofit organizations added to the platform. Tell us how those sessions work and how people can find out about them.
Yeah, that is personally one of my favorite things that I do here at the Community Foundation. I hold monthly working sessions, which is just a two-hour timeframe for our nonprofit profile partners to come in, work on the profile, ask me any questions that they need. I'll give them tips and tricks on what makes their profile stand out. It's also just a great networking session for them too, because they may be sitting in a room of organizations that they've never even heard of before. Maybe they find a need somewhere and they have the resources to help fill that gap. I've seen that in several of my sessions where people are actually collaborating and sharing information, and it's such a great time. If you are interested in building a nonprofit profile, please come out to one of our working sessions. I'd love to help you out.
Those are here at the Community Foundation?
Yes, they are here at the Community Foundation, and you can find it on www.occf.org/coetraining.
All right, www.occcf.org/coetraining. Rebecca, how often are nonprofits supposed to update their profiles and information? How does that happen?
Every year, 45 days after their fiscal year ends is whenever they're required to do an annual review of their profile. That means they go in, they update their board list annually, they update their financial information annually, as well as their state solicitations permit, which is a really big piece of compliance that we need on the website. Annually is whenever they review. Our donors, our community members, our corporate partners looking at these profiles can ensure if it has the green check mark, they're up to date, they're in good standing with us.
Well, it sounds like you're on the phone quite a bit with some of these nonprofit organizations.
Absolutely, I am.
All right, Rebecca, one more time, what's the best way for nonprofits to reach out to you here at the Community Foundation?
Well, they can reach out to me at email@example.com, by calling me at (405)-606-2974 or just looking at the website and looking at the staff page until you find me. I'm a friendly person, friendly face, and I'm happy to help out with anything I can.
Well, Rebecca, you've certainly been very friendly with us today on this podcast. We appreciate you being here, so thanks again for being part of it. If you're listening today and are affiliated with a nonprofit organization here in OKC and you do not have a profile on GiveSmartOKC, reach out to Rebecca Parks and make sure you create yours today. If you are a big corporation and would like to partner with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation to make your charitable giving easier, give Rebecca a call. We can certainly help in that area as well and she'd love to talk to you.
Now, let's bring in Evan Walter. Evan is the Senior Vice President of Institutional Wealth with the Bank of Oklahoma. We'll talk to Evan a little bit about his experience using the GiveSmart Platform. Evan, welcome to our podcast.
Thank you. Glad to be here, Dan.
Well, glad you're here. Before we kind of jump in, I'm just going to start asking you some questions about your prior life before BOK. Before you join Bank of Oklahoma, you worked in the nonprofit sector and you were able to use GiveSmart back in those days. Tell us a little bit about that.
Absolutely. Well, GiveSmart was a great opportunity for us for the nonprofits that I had the privilege of working with to share our story really with the public, and know that the information that we're sharing was going to be transparent and appreciated by our donor base. The questionnaire that's involved in going through the GiveSmart process is incredible, and it's all the questions that donors should be asking of their nonprofits but maybe don't know to ask. It provides some great, great information to the donor to make an educated gift to the appropriate nonprofit.
Fantastic. How did you first learn about GiveSmart and tell us a little bit about some of the experiences you've had using it?
Wow, when did I hear about GiveSmart? Well, when we came to Oklahoma City back in 2004, my wife and I were both in the nonprofit business, and so as GiveSmart came about, we learned about it like most nonprofits did, through the active communications of the Community Foundation to inform us of the opportunity to represent our organizations on the platform.
Okay, cool. I know that now that you're at Bank of Oklahoma, I know that your organization does partner with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation when it comes to charitable giving through the GiveSmart platform. How long have you all been encouraging some of your employees at the bank to use GiveSmart? Tell me how that program works.
Good question. We started using GiveSmart, I want to say, in 2017. I think that's about right. What we were looking for is, philanthropy is really part of our DNA at Bank of Oklahoma, and our employees are encouraged to volunteer and give back. Through their volunteer experiences, they are eligible for their name to be drawn, and then a gift is made to the organization of their choosing. Now, in order to make that happen, we needed to provide them with a database of well-vetted, strong nonprofits in the area and GiveSmart provided us a wonderful platform to do that.
That is outstanding. You know, one of the things that I know that the Oklahoma City Community Foundation has been working on is trying to develop some of these corporate partnerships throughout the city for that exact same reason. I know there are a lot of organizations in the Oklahoma City metro that have a kind heart, they have a gift for giving and they have programs internally too. This program would certainly be a little bit easier for them to use, especially when it comes to their employees. Does it make the giving process easier, especially for a large company such as BOK.
Absolutely! Without a doubt, it provides the company and also the employees who are participating in a program like this. It really provides peace of mind knowing that their gift is going to be utilized for the purpose that they intended. The amount of information that's available, the due diligence, the vetting that goes on as part of the GiveSmart program is phenomenal. It really is a beautiful partnership for BOK and the Community Foundation. GiveSmart's a fabulous tool.
What do you think some of the benefits are of using GiveSmart? Maybe you've talked to some of your employees, people that work with you, that have kind of talked to you a little bit about using the platform. What do you think some of the benefits are?
Well, it really tells the story of the organization. It gives a nonprofit organization the opportunity to tell their story. To tell about how they run as an organization and administratively. They provide that level of transparency that a donor is looking for, especially in this day and age, to make sure that their gift is going to what they intended it to be going towards. That those organizations are going to be a strong steward of those resources and their leadership is acting in a fiduciary capacity to make sure that every gift has the greatest amount of impact possible.
Outstanding. Evan, one of the things I wanted to ask you too is, there are a lot of corporations out here in Oklahoma City. We're now the 20th biggest city in America, which is hard to believe. Do you think that other corporations could consider partnering with the Community Foundation to maybe help them with their corporate charitable giving and maybe that dialogue's floating out there somewhere?
Absolutely. Without a doubt. If they're not already, then they need to be looking into it. The GiveSmart program is a great entree into that because it really is a turnkey solution for them. They've got businesses to run. They want to encourage philanthropy within their corporate culture and among their employees, but at the same time, they've got a business to run. Partnering with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation is a no-brainer. It's an opportunity to engage with the community while continuing their mission of whatever that might be.
Sure. Absolutely. Well, Evan, thanks for being with us today. We appreciate the strong relationship that Bank of Oklahoma has with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. If you're listening today, a lot of you I want to fill you all in that we are more than happy to walk any of you, your team members or anybody within your company and train them and teach them about GiveSmartOKC. It's an easy platform to learn. Rebecca Parks holds monthly training sessions here at the Community Foundation. These are little learning labs, and she will be available to assist you with any of the needs. Again, Evan, I want to thank you again for being on the program. We really appreciate your valuable insight.
Well, thank you for the opportunity, Dan.
Well, that'll do it for us today. I want to thank our guests, Rebecca Parks, the manager of GiveSmartOKC with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, as well as Evan Walter with the Bank of Oklahoma. Join us again next month on Creating Impact Through Giving as we talk about the impact the Oklahoma City Community Foundation has in rural Oklahoma. We will have some special guests on the program, and we hope that you'll tune in again next time. Thanks for being with us. If your company would like to partner with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation when it comes to helping you with your charitable giving, please feel free to reach out to Rebecca Parks and enjoy your day. Thanks for being with us.