The benefits of philanthropy and how to choose and raise funds for a worthy charity
As 2018 reaches its conclusion and companies look for changes to make in the new year, it’s a good time to think about philanthropy. The joy of giving is something you hear a lot about this time of year, but in the corporate world it can mean a lot more than simply the benefit of self-satisfaction. Tax write-offs aside, finding a worthwhile charity to support can lead to a world of benefits, and donating isn’t that difficult if you know what to do and where to look.
Growing through Charity
Sure, altruism isn’t necessarily the first quality that comes to mind when thinking of how to get ahead in the business world, but a closer look at the results of being involved in charitable causes shows that it can, in fact, help a business grow.
Several industries are facing a shortage of workers. Understanding what employees are seeking in a new job is just as important as spreading awareness of your company. Being involved in a charity can help in both these aspects.
Young people entering the workforce or establishing themselves in their careers are increasingly concerned with company culture and being involved with a business that is making a positive impact on the world. Simply put, companies that have a sense of corporate responsibility are more attractive to new hires. Charitable involvement not only shows that a company cares about its community and the world at large, it also gives employees another common goal towards which they are working, improving morale.
The community involvement that comes with being involved in a charity is a reward in itself, yet it also can serve as an efficient way of advertising a business and attracting clients. Sponsoring events related to your business or even simply being listed as a sponsor of a youth sports team or on a charity’s site is a great way to reach people wanting to learn more about your business. Similarly, involvement in Rotary or Kiwanis clubs helps support the community while allowing business owners the chance to network, find new business partnerships, and acquire referrals from fellow members.
Many of the biggest companies in the world are also some of the biggest givers, and following in the footsteps of the likes of Google and Microsoft is something to which many companies aspire. Below is an infographic of five of the most charitable companies in the world, along with their total donations last year.
Choosing a Charity
Once a company decides to get involved in a charitable cause, the real work begins. After all, committing any amount of money or time to a cause should not be done hastily. There are countless charities to choose from, and while many are worthwhile, choosing the best one is of utmost importance. Charity Navigator is an excellent resource for finding highly rated charities by category, as well as tips for protecting data when donating, information about tax benefits, and more.
Ideally, a charity is closely related to the work a company does, but there is a wide variety to choose from and some categories may be closer to a CEO’s heart than others. Some of the most popular charity categories include disaster relief, education, medical research, environmentalism, third-world development, and technology training.
After narrowing down the list of charities that are suitable beneficiaries of a company’s donation, the next step is to contact them and start asking questions. Donors are entering a relationship with the charity, so they need to make sure the charity’s mission and goals are aligned with their own. The best way to learn if a charity is a good fit is by asking for an explanation of its goals and mission and what steps it is taking to achieve those goals.
Additionally, companies can ask for sources where they can check the health of the charity. A quality charity practices transparency and should be willing to provide financial statements that show where the money goes.
Donating to a charity is great, but fundraising for a worthy cause can be even better. Some companies even start their own foundations for which they need to raise money — as is the case with the Aetna Foundation and the Endres Manufacturing Company Foundation. Either way, proper fundraising techniques are needed.
As with any marketing, knowing your audience is key. Offer them solutions to their concerns and make them feel involved when they contribute. Invite them to events aside from fundraisers and provide them with inside information about the charity.
Reaching out on social media isn’t enough. A company needs to make it clear on its website and on company emails that it’s supporting a charity and inform readers of the good that a donation can do. Bear in mind that too much text can be a turn-off to some, try to limit the amount of text and replace it with embedded videos that show the work being done by the foundation.
One-time donations can help make a difference, but monthly donations can do even more. Securing monthly donors can be achieved by employing proper strategies. If someone makes a donation, be sure to follow up with an email thanking them and telling them how they can be a monthly donor and the benefits that come with it.
Set up a page for monthly donors that shows exactly how much of a difference a monthly donation can make — how many children it will feed, how many square feet of forest it will preserve, etc. Additionally, posting pictures and brief bios of monthly donors is a nice incentive. This can all be done as part of a company site or as a separate page made on Squarespace, or a similar platform, and linked to the company site.
Actuating Change in 2019
The benefits of being involved with a quality charity are nearly as numerous as the amount of charities worthy of donations. Getting involved in philanthropic causes is a good way to boost company morale and bring about positive change as the new year gets underway.