Maximizing the benefits of charitable efforts

December 16, 2019 By    

Q: How can retailers maximize the benefits of charitable efforts for their businesses and communities?


Developing a charitable giving plan will increase the impact of your support. Photo:

Developing a charitable giving plan will increase the impact of your support. Photo: davincidig/iStock/Getty Images

As the holiday season draws nearer, many businesses look for ways to give back to their communities. While the primary reason people support charities is because they feel strongly about a cause, there are also benefits to your business.

Why should your business consider donating?

First, charitable giving makes especially good sense for small businesses that depend on their communities to keep them afloat. A community is more likely to support a business that supports the community. Your charitable giving practices demonstrate your support of your community and show you are in business for more than just profit. Second, charitable giving is just plain good public relations.

To maximize the benefits of charitable giving for your business as well as your community, it is important to have a charitable giving plan. The following will help you develop a successful program:

1. Define a mission. Clear objectives and goals help organize and deepen the power of your generosity. Once you’ve set goals, give some thought to how you expect to achieve them, especially who will be involved (family, friends or colleagues) and what kind of support you would like to provide, such as financial, volunteer or other in-kind support. Then, share your mission statement as a guide for everyone involved.

2. Research charities and projects. Consider your personal and business goals, and determine what you want to achieve by supporting charitable organizations: Is there a cause, need or community that is especially important to you, your employees and business? Community foundations generally have contacts and experience with charities in their local communities that can help you decide on grant recipients. When designing a program for workplace philanthropy, be sure to ask employees for their input. It’s always good for your employees to back the causes their company chooses to support.

3. Identify your resources. How can you or your organization best support your chosen cause? When you tally available assets, be sure to look beyond finances and include human capital (i.e., the time and skills of volunteers).

If you create annual targets for volunteer hours and financial support, you can match these goals to what you have learned about the needs of charities in your research.

4. Consider the timing of your support. Sometimes a single gift or volunteer day is what’s needed to help an organization meet its goals. But why not plan for sustained support throughout the year, not just the one-time holiday donation? Charities need help throughout the year. If you ask your selected charities about upcoming milestones, you may find just the right fit for your own charitable resources and goals.

Developing a charitable giving plan will increase the impact of your support.

By giving more effectively to those in need, you strengthen your community as well as your local reputation. Volunteering and charitable giving builds valuable ties to the community by engaging employees, gaining favor with customers (current and potential) and, most importantly, strengthening the community where we all work, play and live.

Tammy Day is director of marketing and communications at Propane Resources.

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