Ellen Burts-Cooper: Showing the heart of your business through philanthropy

Philanthropy has been defined in a broad sense as goodwill to fellow members of the human race in an active effort to promote overall human welfare. As it pertains to individuals and enterprises of all sizes, philanthropy is described as the practice of giving resources and time to help make life better for other people.

Many organizations give because it is “the right thing to do,” but there are benefits that come with truly having a heart for philanthropy. Most people only think of the obvious tax benefits, or other vain reasons to give. True philanthropy, however, can create a genuine organizational culture of service, and will place the focus on the community and a vision greater than the business itself.


Give more than they take

The philosophy of the team at Improve Consulting and Training Group is to give to the world more than they take. This philosophy was embedded into my heart and mind by my mother, and I have now dedicated my organization to living out that idea.

My philanthropic journey began on the receiving end, as I was fortunate enough to pursue eight years of higher education at no cost to me or my family. I attribute my college career to many generous individuals who too believed in giving back to the community and making a difference in the lives of others.

Today, the Improve group has implemented a simple philanthropic model which consists of time, talent and treasure. Members of the Improve team have given their time to help build a playground and put together gift baskets for a shelter. As a result of the “Improve Goes Back to School” initiative, many youth in the surrounding community receive school supplies each August.


Define your mission clearly

All giving should be from the heart; however, it is just as important to have an intentional, philanthropic focus that enables your efforts to have a greater impact.

In order for a business to have an intentional philanthropic focus, there needs to be a clearly defined philanthropic mission. A good place to start to direct your philanthropic focus is in the industry in which you operate.

It is also a good practice to give to efforts and causes that support the vision of your organization. If your company has a vision to advance the community with its products or services, it would be wise to invest time and finances into regional community programs and people.

In addition, to make your giving effective and efficient, there should be a concrete strategy to set aside a portion of your revenue for philanthropic endeavors. A solid strategy is needed to sustain the efforts and embed the heart of service and philanthropy into the culture of the organization.

I am a firm believer in the idea that all small businesses have an obligation to advance the standard of care and living in the areas that they serve. The acceptance of this belief will catapult a small business beyond a simple place of service to a place of true value in the community.


Ellen Burts-Cooper, Ph.D.
Senior managing partner

Improve Consulting and Training Group provides personal and professional development training, coaching and consultation.

Ellen and her team work with large corporations, small companies, colleges/universities and nonprofit organizations to provide Lean Six Sigma Yellow and Green Belt Certifications, project coaching, curriculum development, training and project deployment. She is also an adjunct professor at Case Western Reserve University

(651) 343-1858