When you own a business, you have an influential role in the community. From the people you hire to the resources you use, you participate in your community and can have effects on it, for good or ill. One way many business owners like to contribute to the community is through corporate philanthropy—giving to charity not just as an individual, but as a business.
By making your charitable efforts through your business instead of on your own, you get additional advantages. You can make it easy for your employees to participate in the charitable work you do. You can improve your business’s reputation in the community. And sometimes, by teaming up as a company, you can get a lot more done than individuals can do alone.
The concept behind matching donations is simple. When an employee makes a donation and lets you know, the business donates an equal amount to the same charity. You can even match at 2:1 or 3:1 of what your employees donate. This encourages your employees to give to charity, plus you can know that your business’s charitable donations are in line with your employees’ favorite causes. It may even draw in civic-minded employees, who are definitely the kind of people you want building your company culture.
To set up a matching program, first set a budget. How much can you afford to donate annually? Most employees with matching donation programs don’t take advantage of them, but you want to make sure you have enough money in the budget to keep your obligations. Once you have that number, you can set guidelines for the program. For instance, you might match any donation over $50, with a maximum of $1000 annually per employee. Set the amounts to fit your donating budget. You also might choose to set requirements on what kind of charities will qualify.
After that, all you need is to establish a way for your employees to submit their matching requests. Make sure it’s user-friendly and that your employees know how to do it. If it’s a hassle or unclear how to get it done, employees won’t bother.
Corporate Grants and Sponsorships
Another corporate philanthropy option is simply to donate directly. If there is a cause important to you, you can donate to it annually from the corporate accounts. Often the best charity to donate to is one in your community. Building a strong community benefits everyone who lives there, including you and your employees. So ask around. Your employees might know a local charity that meshes well with your company.
Another way to donate is through sponsorships. When you sponsor an organization, you make a donation, either one time or on an ongoing basis, and they provide some level of advertising to you. A popular wayoption is to sponsor a children’s sports team. You pay for their equipment, and they put your business’s name on their jerseys. That’s free advertising for you and free equipment for the kids. You can also sponsor a school play or another event and receive your company’s name in the program.
As the owner of a small business, you may find yourself solicited for donations and sponsorships by various organizations in the community. If that’s something you’re open to, it’s a good idea to keep a budget for discretionary donations. That way you’re ready when you hear a pitch that interests you. Let your employees know to pass on donation requests to you.
After you donate, keep the receipts. Donations for which you received nothing in return are tax deductible. If, however, you received free advertising or another incentive, you may still be able to write it off as a business expense.
The last way to practice corporate philanthropy is by providing volunteer opportunities for your employees. Many people would love to volunteer more than they do, but don’t have time or anyone to volunteer with. You can arrange one-time volunteer events or ongoing efforts. The organization you want to work with can give you all the direction you need.
Common volunteer opportunitiesoppotunities businesses can dooffer:
- Adopt a highway and have a monthly Saturday employees can come out and clean. You provide the trash bags and refreshments afterward.
- Give your space to a blood drive on a regular basis, and encourage employees to volunteer or donate.
- Host a canned-food or school-supply drive.
- Take on a day at a food bank or soup kitchen where your employees can help the usual workers.
It’s vital that volunteering isn’t pressured or forced. Don’t force volunteering on company time, but instead have events outside work hours or offer paid time off to volunteer. This way, employees who don’t wish to participate don’t have to. It’s not volunteering if you have to do it (or feel like you do) to keep your job.
If you don’t want to organize something, you can simply allow for generous time off for employees who wish to volunteer. This encourages selfless and ethical people to work for you, knowing you support their projects outside of work.
Talk to Your Advisor About Corporate Philanthropy
If you’d like your business to do more good in your community, your financial advisor can help you get started. From setting up charitable programs to writing off donations on your taxes, there are a lot of steps you may need a hand with. To find the right business financial advisor for you, contact us today.