Let's Talk Levers: Cash

Let's Talk Levers: Cash

By: Emily Kane Miller

The Ethos Lever Model

The Ethos Lever Model features 14 different Levers, or ways that organizations can use the resources at their disposal to make an impact. Each Lever is a real opportunity to create value. Strategically pulling multiple levers can help your organization develop a powerful, cohesive Social Impact strategy. See all 14 Levers here

In this blog series, the Ethos team breaks down each Lever - complete with expanded definitions and real-life examples - so you can best understand how to pull the right Levers at the right times to optimize your organization’s social impact work. 


Cash donations are perhaps the most traditional method of giving. The Cash Lever refers to flexing your dollars to benefit social impact, for example:

  • 501(c)(3)s: Nonprofit organizations with religious, charitable, scientific and/or educational purposes. These donations are tax-deductible. 
  • 501(c)(4)s: Political contributions. These donations are not tax-deductible. 
  • For-profit partners (commerce): Spending money with a values aligned business or purpose. 

Maximize Cash Donations: 

  • Double down on existing partnerships
  • Consider creative ways to give, such as:
    • Matching employee donations
    • Pledging a percentage of sales to a key partner
    • Supporting legislation that furthers your organization’s social impact efforts
    • Establishing a larger fund or foundation and allowing nonprofits to apply for funding 

CashThree Real-Life Examples

1. Hologic:  A medical devices and diagnostics company dedicated to women’s health

Hologic is doing incredibly important work in the fight for health equity. Recent research shows that a staggering number of women missed annual breast and cervical cancer screenings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, Black and Latina women don’t receive the same level of health care as white women, the impact of which is evident in disproportionate mortality rates. Hologic’s Project Health Equality is genuine, focused, and impactful.

The company’s philanthropic efforts are centered in communities where their employees live and work, supporting organizations that share their values and commitment to promoting healthier lives. This was seen in Hologic’s announcement that they are donating $5 million to support women’s health, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, and social and racial equity programs. The biotech company plans to distribute the cash over the coming year primarily to charities that serve areas where their facilities are located:

  • $1 million around Marlborough, Mass., where Hologic is headquartered and employees work on cytology, breast and skeletal health, and gynecologic surgical products
  • $1 million around San Diego, the company’s largest facility, where teams create molecular diagnostic tests for COVID-19, cervical cancer and other major health conditions
  • $1 million near Hologic’s other major U.S. sites
  • $1 million near Hologic’s international sites
  • $1 million to support its internal “Partners in Giving” program, which supplements U.S. employees’ donations to their chosen charities

2. Annie’s Homegrown: An organic food company whose mission is “to cultivate a healthier and happier world by spreading goodness through foods.”

Annie’s seeks to advance a more regenerative food system by forming strategic partnerships, advocating on policy, and funding research. The Triple Bottom Line is Annie’s commitment to driving positive outcomes for the planet, people, and profit. This change requires supporting and collaborating with organizations that are working to make the world a better place. Annie’s Homegrown has donated over $3.75 million over the last five years to support programs that benefit both people and the planet by conducting agricultural research, teaching children about real food, and much more.

Annie’s supports food education and makes healthy gardens accessible to hundreds of students across the country. The main issue areas covered through their cash donations include education, food and nutrition, hunger, and health. This is done by connecting kids to gardens to help them think more holistically about their food, communities, and the planet. Examples of specific cash initiatives include grants for gardens and sustainable agriculture scholarships to educate future generations about how sustainably-grown food changes lives. 

3. Athleta:  A clothing company that “integrates performance and technical features for active women and girls.”

Althleta is a certified B Corp committed to creating positive social and environmental impact that created a $200,000 child care fund for ten professional athletes who are also mothers. In partnership with legendary runner Allyson Felix, Athleta is working to ensure that these mothers of young children have the resources necessary for childcare, allowing them to continue furthering their athletic careers. The Power of She Fund: Child Care Grants cover child care costs for mothers while traveling to competitions. As Allyson Felix personally understands, balancing motherhood with an active athletic career can be difficult - which is why she has put a top priority on mitigating inequalities. Bottom line: These grants enable the moms who are athletes to be able to continue participating in the sports they love. 

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