9 Ways for Your Small Business to Be Charitable

rsz_computerwithphone by Tim Parker on December 11, 2012
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You’re the voice of your business. What do you want to say? “I’m all about sales and profit,” or “I want give back to my community”?

Most of us would say that giving back is something everyone should do, but a partnership between your company and a nonprofit organization is also good for business.

Here are nine ways to be charitable:

1. Make a cash donation. The most efficient, cost-effective way for any charity to raise funds is through individual donations. Write a check to your favorite charity if you want to do the most good in the shortest amount of time.

2. Offer matching gifts. As a small business, you can help generate more donations by offering to match monetary gifts from your employees and customers. Stay within your budget by establishing a preset limit.

3. Sponsor an event. Special events generate donations and frame a time period for your involvement. Sponsor a 5K race or a golf tournament. Donate merchandise for a silent auction. Hold a car wash, a bake sale, or a spaghetti dinner. The possibilities abound.

4. Dedicate a portion of one day’s profits. If you run a retail store or a restaurant, put the word out that Wednesday is “XYZ Charity Day” with 10 percent of your proceeds going to that worthy cause. Make sure you spread the word via social media and your website. Consider printing flyers for your employees and the charity to hand out to drive business and donations that day.

5. Create and sell swag. Obtain pins, decals, hats, and pencils — anything with your logo and that of the charity on it. Sell the merchandise at your store or on your website, with the proceeds going to the designated charity. This can be an ongoing project; simply replace inventory when your stock runs low.

6. Offer discounts and promotions. Special pricing for anybody who is a contributor to, or a member of, the charity of your choice is another way to reward donors. The charity gets the donation or membership dues. Donors get a tangible benefit for giving. And you get to build your customer mailing list, say “thank you,” and create some good will all at the same time.

7. Volunteer alongside your employees. All charities depend on volunteers. First, make sure you sign up to help — in the office, at an event, wherever you are needed. Then invite your employees to join you. If you have them, wear company shirts, ball caps, or name tags while you volunteer.

8. Donate equipment or meeting space. According to Jim Probasco, president of the Kettering Education Foundation, charitable organizations often depend on donated space and equipment to get volunteer work done. If you are replacing furniture or computers, consider donating your used items to a charity. If you have a meeting room, lounge, or other facility that isn’t in use all the time, offer to let the charity meet at your place of business once a month.

9. Be charitable for the right reasons. Supporting a good cause should reflect your natural generosity and personal passion. People know when you are sincere, and they will respond to your enthusiasm. Yes, you will get recognition and your business will get free advertising, but any time, money, and effort you invest in a nonprofit organization should be its own reward — and reason enough to continue giving.

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Tim Parker is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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