Some people love giving to charity. It makes them feel good. It makes them part of the community.
When they become entrepreneurs, they want to keep giving. But sometimes it’s hard. Competition is tough. Costs are rising. Can they really afford to give to charity? And if they do, can they really afford to give as much as they would like?
Charity is an investment, not just in the community, but also in the business. To what extent charity is a business investment depends on how closely you align your charitable campaigns with your business goals.
Before I go any further, there is a big caveat. If you have a favorite charity, one you believe in, one that means something to you, don’t be shy to invest in it. Do the good you want to do. Your business benefits from any giving, because people like givers. People trust givers. People like to do business with givers.
- Giving leads to more customers.
- Giving leads to better partnerships.
- Giving opens doors.
So don’t be shy to give whatever you want to whatever charity you wish. If you align your charitable campaigns with your business goals, you will simply optimize your giving.
If your top goal is to gain publicity, then get involved with a high-profile event. You will want to see your logo alongside other sponsors where the most people can see it. Often this is at runs for cancer and other “popular” diseases.
If your top goal is to build your reputation among your staff, then choose a charity that can involve them. A charity run would also be an option, in this case, as would be collecting items for the food bank or raising donations for disaster relief.
If your top goal is to position your business at City Hall as a good corporate citizen, then invest in a cause that helps the local community. The food bank. A homeless shelter. Cleaning up the parks.
Some restaurants give free meals to the homeless. George’s Senate Coney Island does that every Thanksgiving. “It makes my heart feel good to do it, and help a little bit,” says George. And he probably feels really good about the phenomenal media coverage it’s landed his business, too.
Grocery stores often have bins on the way out the door where you can donate food for the local food bank. There is a direct tie-in that consumers appreciate, and it doesn’t hurt their bottom line if customers buy an extra can or two for charity. Even without bottom-line benefits, it just makes sense to get your customers involved. People notice what you do more when they are involved than when you just post a sign or send out a flyer.
As Louise Lee writes in the Wall Street Journal:
“Why not just write a check? Owners can do that, but hands-on, face-to-face involvement can have even more impact, especially if a business can’t afford to make large cash contributions.”
Vista College was trying to promote health and wellness on its campuses across Texas. It chose to support the Dallas Heart Walk. This is a highly visible event, but more importantly, it is a highly participatory event. In 2015, over 500 of their staff participated across 7 Texas campuses and one campus in New Mexico.
Participatory events are ideal when the goal is to build a team atmosphere and keep employees motivated. That sense of doing something worthwhile together, as a team, carries over into the workplace.
There is a charity that matches almost every business. Some relate to poverty, some to the environment, some to health and some to peace. If you have a very specific niche audience, you might even venture into political causes. All the better to get them involved, to build a very personal rapport.
For instance, if you are a Christian business targeting a very Christian market, you might decide to support with money and your voice causes that local churches are championing, even if those causes might alienate other segments of the population.
You might also tie your support for the arts to your charitable campaigns. Certainly if you can link the two, you’ll be sending a powerful message that your company is a pillar of the community. Plus, if your support for the arts can also help charity, you’ll be doing two good deeds for the price of one.
However you approach your charitable giving, there is always the tax deduction. We all pay taxes, and that is good. We get roads. We get health care. We get protection from terrorists. When you give to charity, you divert some of the taxes from what the government wants to support to what you want to support. That’s not a bad thing.
Once you’ve chosen a charity to work with, make a commitment to help out for the long run. Build a relationship that will bear fruit for both your business and the charity for years to come. You can’t support every cause, but you can support one or two really well. That sends a strong message that your customers and your employees will be able to follow through the years.
This article was written by David Leonhardt from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.