“When it comes down to a Pepsi Challenge with your competitor, the business who is involved with charity is likely to taste a little better than the alternative.”
Put yourself in the shoes of an onlooker, and imagine seeing two companies that provide the same thing—except one of them gives to charity. It may not be the defining factor in a customer’s decision-making process, but to be sure, philanthropy reflects positively on your business. It demonstrates that you have a financial structure solid enough to give some away, as well as showing that you are about more than just turning a profit. And if you are giving to charity, then make sure you tell people about it. It looks good.
Getting involved with a charity is not a completely selfless endeavor because you can benefit from it as well; the collaboration can fill a need for both parties. The charitable group is of course acquiring a donation of money, exposure, or effort from you, but at the same time, you can ask that they include your name in correspondence as a contributor. Charities are always looking for sponsors who will help promote their events, and in return, they will include your company name in their fliers, newsletters, radio and television ads—even in press releases.
Form New Connections
Networking through charities is a powerful way to get connected because you will make introductions with people who are also sponsoring the same organizations, and you can never have too many business contacts. On top of that, they almost always get the press involved. By coupling yourself with a charity or sponsoring a particular event, news outlets will extend the reach of your business—not to mention the fact that you are now on the press’ radar, which may be a great help to you in the future.
Tax Breaks for Donations
Giving back through charity is an admirable pursuit that is fulfilling in and of itself, but there is no reason why you should not be rewarded for it. The trick to being reimbursed for your giving is to find out how it is viewed in the eyes of the government: What is officially considered charitable giving, what kinds of donations you can “write off”, and how do you provide proof of these donations? According to the Small Business Administration, a business can receive a tax break on donations of money, property, or even time; however, the IRS generally does not allow a business to deduct more than 50 percent of its adjusted gross income, the charity must be a “qualified” organization, and you must furnish thorough documentation of all your donations (keep the receipt). Even so, you can still recover a good deal of your time and money spent.
If you are not quite ready to attach yourself to a charity on a full-time basis, you can scale it back a little and make one-time, lump donations as you see fit. You do not have to consistently give sizeable amounts, to make a difference. True, it may do more good by focusing all of your energy on one cause at a time, making substantial contributions; on the other hand though, one-time donations to various charities can keep you in the game, just the same.
It’s the Little Things
Another way to help a charitable group is to equip them. All businesses need operating materials, and a charity is no exception. Especially for one that is just starting out or underfunded, just buying office supplies or furniture may help it get off the ground. Maybe your business can pay for landscaping to give the grounds a facelift. Is there a struggling little league team nearby? Buy the kids brand new uniforms, and your business will instantly be a local hero-of-the-day. The scale of your giving is not necessarily the most important element—the effort is what really matters.
Donations Are Not Always Monetary
So you can see that philanthropic pursuits are good for business, but do not forget that this is actually making a positive difference for many people, and the groups who represent them. There are a myriad of ways to help—that does not necessarily mean monetary help. Like any other business, charitable organizations need exposure to grow, which you may be able to provide by simply raising awareness of a cause by telling your own customers about it. In fact, spreading the word is a chief concern for any charity.
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.