Giving back not only feels good, but it can also be good business. Many companies and business leaders see charitable giving as a benchmark of success when they have the resources to give back to the community.
Natural disasters and tragedies have been headlining news sources pulling at heartstrings and bank accounts. According to Giving USA, donations from individuals totaled $281.82 billion and made up 72 percent of the charitable donations pie in 2016. Corporate giving increased by 3.5 percent to $18.5 billion and made up 5 percent of all charitable giving in 2016.
Like most expenses, charitable giving is wisest and most efficient when it is well thought out and intentional. There are various factors to consider when developing personal and business plans that give back to the community.
From a business perspective, it can be a coordinated strategic effort fueled by company morale, a leadership personal focus or customer interests. Corporate giving can happen in many forms like cash donations, in-kind support and goods or services.
You are ready to give, where do you start?
Pick your passion
Crafting a giving plan starts with questions. What is the catalyst for giving? As a business owner are you looking for a charity that aligns with your company’s mission and vision? Are you looking to support the charities that are important to your employees or customers? As an individual or family, reflect on the source of passion and visualize a goal for making a difference.
Give the same thought to giving as you would any expense. How much time, energy and resources do you have to give back without disrupting your business or household’s sustainability and security for growth? When is the best time to give? Does it need to be during a specific time of your fiscal year? Just like any business plan, look forward to one, three and five years and set benchmarks for dollars, volunteer hours and in-kind services donated.
Weigh the benefits
Giving back isn’t a one-way street. There are benefits personally and professionally with positive morale, brand reputation, referrals and tax deductions. Consider these components when developing your plan for helping the community. Be humble, authentic and creative in your charitable partnerships. Writing a check doesn’t have to be the highlight of your giving.
Developing relationships with charity recipients, board leadership and community organizers can tell a story that illuminates the passion from which it was born. Organizations are interested in long-term partnerships that go beyond the tangibility of money.
Do the research
Your areas of focus are clear, your resources are accounted for and the benefits are listed; now what? It’s time to research the charities that will benefit from your success and planning. Giving tends to start from the heart and will end up there when it comes full circle. It is important to perform due diligence when choosing a charity to ensure your money and resources are being used efficiently and ethically.
Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance urges corporate and individual donors to take the time to check out charities to avoid wasting your generosity by donating to a questionable or poorly managed effort. Be proactive and find trusted charities that are assisting.
BBB Wise Giving Alliance is a standards-based charity evaluator that seeks to verify the trustworthiness of nationally-soliciting charities by completing rigorous evaluations based on 20 holistic standards that address charity governance, effectiveness reporting, finances, fund raising, appeal accuracy, and other issues. Learn more about BBB Charity Standards and local charity reviews at Give.org.
Kirstin Davis is the marketplace director for the Better Business Bureau Northwest.