Philanthropic giving can do more for your business than just provide a tax break. It can bolster the company's reputation as an aware, socially responsible, empathetic organization that cares about more than just the bottom line. Here, we share ways businesses can give back -- and the reputation benefits that can follow when they do.
Give your time
Not all 'giving' has to be the financial kind. If your business is small, just starting out, or if your business is experiencing a lean period, consider making a donation in the form of hours. Ask employees to suggest places in the local community they'd like to volunteer some time as a company. Then gather the responses and go with the majority's choice. Contact the organization to coordinate the times and dates that work best for all.
Volunteering in the local community (serving food at soup kitchens, mentoring youngsters, helping job seekers with their resumes) will boost your staff's moods. Consider making your volunteer time a regular thing (say, monthly or bimonthly, or as often as you can spare the time) and making it a real group activity. Have '"Volunteer" shirts printed in your company colors and with your company name and logo, and then ask staff to wear them during every volunteer session. The shirts will serve two purposes: as ice-breakers and as advertising for your business. And seeing the shirts regularly will let people know yours is a company that truly cares.
Another bonus is a social one for your employees. Giving them the option to spend more time together and get to know one another outside the office can let the shy and/or work-obsessed types shine a bit, translating to increased popularity around the office for some of your less-gregarious workers.
Put your money where your mouth is
Perhaps your company is shorter on time than it is on cash. If that's the case, financial donations are always welcome at charitable organizations. If you have the means and are ready to give as a business but don't know where to start, send out a staff-wide email explaining your plans and asking for suggestions about where and to whom/what to give. Unlike volunteering your time on-site, financial donations have no geographic boundaries. Want to donate to a cause thousands of miles away? No problem.
Once you've settled on a cause or organization, make sure your money is really going where you think it's going. With the stories about the high administrative costs and/or cushy salaries of executives at some non-profits, many people are wary of giving their hard-earned money to charities. To ensure most of your company's donation goes to your chosen cause, use the services of an independent philanthropy evaluator, such as Charity Navigator, which researches and gives objective, honest ratings to numerous charities.
Most people report evaluating the corporate social responsibility programs of a company when deciding whether to work there. So choosing a reputable charity to donate to and letting your people know about it could pay dividends when it comes to attracting and keeping talent.
Are there sports leagues in your community? Or local schools hosting sales, newspapers holding fitness challenges, community centers having events? If you have the funds to donate, choose something in your community to sponsor. You'll get your name in front of numerous people, drawing potential new clients and potential new hires. And your generosity will get your company off on the right footing with all of them.
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