The act of giving can be seen as selfish; it makes the giver happier and imbues him with that warm, fuzzy feeling associated with affection. It even appears to have health benefits, as several studies have shown its positive impact on lowering blood pressure, prolonging life and improving the health of those with chronic illnesses.
It’s the best type of win/win situation, which is why when it comes to beneficial business practices, one of the best things you can do for you, your company and your employees is to build a relationship with a local charity. Or better yet, start your own.
The Four Types Of Business Giving
Selecting a charity to partner your business with is no small task. With more than 1.5 million nonprofits registered in the United States alone, the first hurdle you’ll have to jump is finding one that not only falls in line with your company’s philosophy, but is also reputable.
Fortunately, there are a number of helpful websites out there that can help you in your search, including CharityWatch.org, GuideStar.org and CharityNavigator.org. Once you’ve determined the best charity for your company, the next step is getting your employees involved. From fringe association to full-on participation, types of charitable giving at the office can include:
- Creating a donation method.
- Promoting your partner charity.
- Volunteering company time and efforts.
- Creating a company charity.
At this point, it would be a good idea to call a company meeting or get with individual employees to determine their ideal levels of participation. You might be surprised by how much – or how little – they really want to be involved.
- Creating A Donation Method
For employees who only want to get involved with the company’s partner charity on a fringe basis, simple donation programs could include:
- Gift in kind: Match any donations made by your employees to the company’s partner charity, up to a certain amount.
- Direct payroll donations: Give your employees the option of having a certain pre-tax amount from their pay cheques donated to charity.
- Donating at the office: Set up a donation jar or box (for charities in need of physical items such as new toiletries, clean clothes or children’s toys) at the office and drop it off with the charity when full.
- Promoting Your Partner Charity
Apart from improving employee morale, associating your company with a reputable charity can also improve your company’s standing within your customer base. By actively donating to upstanding charities, customers peripherally receive the benefits of giving through the knowledge that part of their purchases is going toward a greater good. And at the same time, you’re helping the charity get their name out there.
But there is a fine line between promoting a charity and being obnoxious. When determining how you can promote your new relationship, keep in mind that customers can tell when you’re making a big deal about a new charitable partnership solely for your company’s benefit. If your efforts are genuine, however, they’ll react in a much more positive manner.
- Volunteering Company Time & Efforts
Offering employees the option of paid days volunteering is another excellent morale booster and a quick way to become actively involved in your new partnership right off the bat. From company volunteer days, to helping your charity through the donation of useful services, to driving fundraisers and charitable events, your company can become as involved as you like; or at least, as much as you can afford. And when you find yourself getting more and more involved in charity, the natural next step is to create your own.
- Creating A Company Charity
When online shopping community Lyoness began looking for a charity to support, we found that it actually worked out better in the end to simply start our own. In 2008, we launched the non-profit Child and Family Foundation, an organisation that “… is actively involved in supporting children, adolescents and families worldwide, specifically in the field of education” – building on Lyoness’ primary focus of access to education for everyone.
Three years later, Lyoness launched our second charity – this time with a focus on environmental protection as well as climate protection and the use of renewable energies. Dubbed Greenfinity, the organisation reflects Lyoness’ goal to make all company locations and events climate neutral. The program is currently active in more than 30 countries.
Tax and business benefits aside, creating your own charity provides your company with a level of control that is unachievable through partnership. If you find that your company’s charitable actions are continuing to grow but are hindered by the decision-making steps inherent in partnerships, consider looking into other business-run charities for ideas on how you can take the next step in giving back.
Regardless of your approach, getting involved with a charity can greatly benefit your employees and provides your customers another reason to do business with you. So be a little selfish and find out how you can start giving back.