The Ask Amanda Show | Episode #5

Whether you’re raising a family, business or nonprofit, it’s crucial to give back with intention if we want to set a good example for those around us.

That’s why Amanda Benson-Tilch, host of The Ask Amanda Show, sat down with philanthropy expert and consultant Michelle Rey, owner and founder of Power of Philanthropy (POP).

Together, Amanda and Michelle discuss the importance of philanthropy in the home, office, and boardroom – plus they share their best tips, tricks, and stories for building successful relationships at each level of philanthropic work.

Let’s dive in.

Philanthropy Starts in the Home

“Philanthropy starts in the home with the decision to raise children who are caring individuals toward everyone, regardless of where they come from, what their background is, or anything else,” Michelle explained. “That’s what it means to our family.”

Once you make the decision to make philanthropy one of your core family values, the next step is to simply lead by example.

“It starts with the realization that your actions are being witnessed and mirrored by your children,” Michelle explained. “They are watching everything you do, and if you make philanthropy a focus in your life, they will pick up on that, too.”

How do you bring philanthropy into focus in your own home? Start with Michelle’s simple tips.

Tips for Raising Philanthropic Children

  • Be intentional about how you share your time. Lead by example.
  • Be vocal when you get involved. Share your experiences.
  • Let them see you give back – your kids will take notice.
  • Explain the why behind your everyday acts of kindness.
  • Demonstrate that you don’t have to be wealthy to be giving. Pull up your sleeves!

Philanthropy for Small Businesses

“Whether you’re a small business or large corporation, giving back should be a line item on your budget,” Amanda said. “It’s good for the community, and it’s good for business – win-win.”

While nonprofits always appreciate a donation, they also value building relationships and lasting engagement.

In fact, giving back financially is just one way businesses can get involved. Especially if your philanthropy budget is tight, business owners can create employee engagement programs. Some companies might give employees 16 or 24 hours of time for volunteer work each year, while others might provide rewards for time spent volunteering. It can be something as simple as a $5 gift card for coffee – or an extra vacation day if they accumulate a certain amount of hours.

“These are great ways to help support your employees’ passions while also helping your brand become more engaged with the community,” Amanda said.

Tips for Building a Philanthropic Small Business:

  • It starts at the top. Encouraging philanthropy in the office is a lot like how you would start philanthropy in the home: The parent-figure, or manager, has to say: “We’re going to volunteer, and we would love it if you did, too.”
  • Provide incentives. Financially, you can match employee gifts, dollar-for-dollar or 2-for-1, or you can incentivize milestones of volunteer time with small gift cards or free lunch or vacation day.
  • Share about it. Don’t forget to let the community know you’re getting involved and why you’re doing it. It’s not about bragging that you gave away money; it’s about making a statement to the community about who you support, what you stand for and why.

Find the Right Nonprofit To Get Started

If you need a little help figuring out how to get started, take a look at the local nonprofits in your area. It’s about finding the right one for you – and then seeing how you can help.

  • Start with your mission. Take a look at your core values, mission statement and vision statement. Research the organizations in your area, and try to find a close match that also inspires a spark of passion.
  • Do your due diligence. Every nonprofit has a 990 form, which discloses how they spend their money. Most are available online.
  • Go with your passion. When you find a nonprofit with a mission that’s aligned with yours, you’ll feel the biggest reward from your volunteer work. When you make the final choice, go with the one that fills you up the most.

Philanthropy in the Boardroom

Like love languages, everyone has a different philanthropy language.

“Everyone gives their best when they’re engaging their strengths,” Michelle explained. “That’s why it’s so important to help both board members and volunteers find their philanthropy language.”

How do you encourage your team to tap into their strengths and discover their favorite ways to give? It all starts with Michelle’s top tips for board members and volunteers.

Building a Strong Nonprofit Board

“The most important and influential relationships in a nonprofit are the board members, major gift donors and management. Your board members represent the health of the organization and are essential to its success,” Michelle explained. “You must involve your board members in some stage of the philanthropic process. It’s all about information, communication and engagement.”

Philanthropy Process: 7 Stages of Solicitation

One of the best ways to engage your board is to find out which stage of the ask each board member feels most comfortable with. Their interest might even change over time, so it’s important to stay engaged and continue the conversation.

  1. Identification: identifying individuals to engage
  2. Research: researching your candidates
  3. Cultivation: building the relationships
  4. Planning: proposing personal giving plans
  5. Solicitation: making the ask
  6. Stewardship: saying thank you, showing the good work of the organization
  7. Repeat: get ready to repeat the process

3 Common Board Member Fears

It’s important to remember that board members are humans just like us, and that means they have some pretty common and understandable fears. One of the best ways to support them, beyond finding their strengths, is helping them work through those fears.

Some of the most common philanthropy fears are the fears of rejection, begging and reciprocity. We face these feelings all the time, but board members face those feelings in an amplified way when they make the ask.

  1. Begging: feeling judged or pressured
  2. Rejection: feeling worried they’ll say no
  3. Reciprocity: feeling like you owe something in return

To help your board members identify and work through these fears, try offering ways to reframe each one. For example, begging can be reframed as inviting someone to be a part of a purpose. You can see rejection as discovery: A ‘no’ can simply be a ‘not right now,’ or an opportunity to get involved in a different way. Finally, they can look at reciprocity as the natural give and take of relationship building – instead of feeling like they’re stuck in obligation.

2 Critical Board Member Mistakes

While building a strong board is vital, being a valuable board member is equally important. From a board member perspective, there are two cardinal mistakes you can make.

  1. One of the biggest mistakes a board member can make is signing up to have their name listed on the board – but they don’t actually contribute any of their time, talents or treasures.
  2. The second biggest mistake is not giving. As a marker of the health of the organization, it’s crucial to have 100% board participation when it comes to giving.

Building a Strong Volunteer Base

Building a strong volunteer base is also a vital factor for the success of an organization. And it’s always best when there’s a real connection between the volunteer and the organization’s mission or purpose.

“When my son was 4 months old, he had to have his skull reconstructed,” Michelle shared. “Cranio Care Bears sends care packages to babies who are about to have surgery for craniosynostosis, and it costs the family nothing. So this beautiful care package just showed up to our room with toys, pajamas and rattlers, as well as toiletries and snacks for Mom and Dad.” Michelle continued: “They did something for us during a really difficult time in our family, so today, we love to give back to them. I’ll do anything for them in a heartbeat because I care about what they’re doing. It made a difference in my life, so there’s a strong connection there.”

3 Ways To Be a Good Volunteer

  1. Be honest with yourself about how much you have to give and how you want to give.
  2. Choose an organization that you have a personal connection to, from its mission to its programs. If you have a personal connection, your work will feel so much easier and more rewarding.
  3. Volunteer around your strengths. Try to choose activities based on your personal gifts.

The Bottom Line

The part of the brain that lights up when you receive a gift also lights up when you give a gift.

“That’s why it actually feels good to give,” Michelle explained.

“So go do good, people!” Amanda added.

Meet the Experts

Michelle Rey – Philanthropy Consultant

Michelle Rey is the owner and founder of POP – The Power of Philanthropy. As a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), she has met requirements including 3 years of professional fieldwork, at least $1.4 million in fundraising, a certain amount of hours of professional development and a final exam. She is one of only 7,000 CFRE professionals in the world, and she’s Santa Clarita’s very own nonprofit matchmaker.

With expertise in nonprofit fundraising and corporate giving, Michelle Rey is uniquely positioned to understand both sides of a powerful philanthropic relationship. She helps nonprofits find givers, and givers find purpose. In the process, she develops a lasting partnership that makes a difference for everyone. As the founder of Santa Clarita’s brightest nonprofit consultancy firm, she connects the nonprofit and for-profit worlds by showing everyone the Power of Philanthropy (POP) by Michelle Rey.

Need guidance for your nonprofit’s development? Need help structuring an employee giving program? Book a complimentary consultation with Michelle Rey to discover your goals and create a plan to achieve them.

Keep up with Michelle on Facebook and LinkedIn, or visit her at

Amanda Benson-Tilch – Small Business Consulting

While you may notice her first by her wit and second by her infectious sense of humor, the next thing you’ll learn about Amanda Benson-Tilch is: She’s a problem-solver. Owner and Growth Strategist of Ask Amanda Consulting, she offers the skills, tools and network it takes to get the job done — no matter the task.

Working with each client differently, she helps identify blocks, present solutions, implement them, and execute. And if she can’t execute, she’ll connect you to someone who can. She’s helped past clients improve their branding, operations, customer service, marketing, company culture, and more. She’s organized a company-wide rebranding and restructuring after it was bought out. And she’s helped local small businesses increase their growth without increasing the headache. From consulting to full-scale project management, Amanda steps in to help your business level up with ease.

In addition to her work with Ask Amanda, she’s also the Director of Business Development for Thomas Realty Co., a property management company in Burbank, where she oversees the growth of select tenants. Currently, she’s serving as the Managing Director of both Burbank Fitness Club and Burbank Center Apartments. Over the last year, she helped completely rebrand, renovate and rebuild the gym, and she recently started the same process with their luxury apartments.

Follow Amanda on Facebook and Instagram.

About The Ask Amanda Show

On any given day, small business owners and entrepreneurs spend most of their time putting out fires, solving problems and asking themselves questions like: “How do I brand this? How do I reach more people online? Why can’t I break through my revenue ceiling and reach the next level of business?” They often feel like an island – holding it all together without support, clarity or feedback they need to finally achieve their vision. That’s exactly why Amanda Benson-Tilch created The Ask Amanda Show. As a small business consultant, not only does she have the answers to the questions you keep asking, but she’s also created a podcast community that reminds you: You’re not alone in this journey.

Tune in once a month to get access to small business experts, nuggets of inspiration and answers to those burning questions preventing you from growth. Enjoy powerful guest interviews as Santa Clarita small business experts share their stories and provide actionable steps to help you grow your business. Whether you’re a business owner, aspiring entrepreneur, or someone looking to get more involved in your community, this is your show!