Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. ~ Margaret Mead
As a small business owner, have you ever considered giving back to your local community, supporting a charity or getting involved in volunteering? In addition to the wonderful feeling that comes from doing good, there are many other benefits that your small business can enjoy by giving back.
Boosting employee morale
Getting involved in charitable causes helps to benefit your community, but it can also help your employees to feel more motivated and empowered as they go about their daily duties. Giving can even help to increase productivity as discussed in this Time magazine article.
How: If you already have a charitable giving program in place, then you can consider giving your team members paid time off (even 1 hour per quarter) to volunteer for this cause. If you haven’t yet implemented corporate giving, then you can get your team involved by asking them for suggestions of their favorite charities.
Cultivating a positive brand image
By sponsoring a worthy charity or supporting a local cause, you can help portray your small business in a positive light. This can help you to gain respect as a business leader in your community and beyond.
Doing good can also directly benefit your bottom line because it allows your existing and potential customers to connect with you on an emotional level. In fact, a recent study showed that 90% of Americans are more likely to trust brands that back social causes, making corporate social responsibility (CSR) more important than ever.
How: Be sure to publicize your involvement with a particular charity by posting to your Facebook page or putting together a blog post about the cause. In addition to showcasing your business’ CSR through social media, encourage your clients to get involved as well. They can tag along and donate time/funds to the charity thus turning your support into a true community effort.
Enjoying the tax break
It’s important to note that not all charitable organizations qualify for a charitable contribution deduction. According to the Small Business Association (SBA), you should always use the IRS’s Search for Charities platform to confirm that the organization you’re donating to is tax-exempt.
How: Your first step is to keep good records of your charitable giving throughout the year. In general, you should receive a receipt each time you donate to a charitable organization. The SBA also notes that the IRS, “limits the amount of charitable donations that can be considered tax-deductible to 50 percent of your adjusted gross income.” Your charitable donation must be settled in full by the end of the tax year and reported using Form 1040, Schedule A.
Finding a charity to support
We recommend selecting ONE charity or cause and focusing all your effort on them throughout the year. Here are some ways to find a charity to support or a cause to get behind.
- Choose an organization that aligns well with your brand. For example, if you are a pet care company, then the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals might be a natural fit.
- It’s also important to ensure that the charitable organization you’d like to select is reputable and that donations are being used in a responsible way. You can do so by visiting Donors Choose or Guidestar, which operate as charity watchdogs.
- Volunteer Match helps to place people with charities that fit their personalities and causes that are important to them. They also offer a corporate package, which might be a good option if your business has a larger team.
Some examples of well-known charities include the World Wildlife Fund, Action Against Hunger-USA, Kids in Need and Save the Children.
Ways to give back
You could consider earmarking a certain dollar amount to give to your favorite charity every quarter or once per year. Alternatively, you could choose to give a percentage of sales of a certain product or service to a particular charity. In addition to cash donations, there are many other ways for small businesses to give back. Here are a few examples:
- In-kind donations. Providing an in-kind donation may be easier than donating money especially if your business may be experiencing inconsistent cash flow. In this case, you could donate items from your inventory or donate your services for a few hours depending on the nature of your business. Many charities will list the types of in-kind donations that they are currently accepting on their website. Or, you could give them a quick call to confirm that this type of donation is permissible.
- Participate in events. Once you’ve selected a charitable cause to support, find out everything the charity is involved in and see how you can fit in. For example, charitable races offer an excellent opportunity to show your support to a cause while reaping health benefits at the same time.
- Keep the ideas flowing. You can follow blogs about giving or subscribe to the Crazy Good Turns podcast which focuses solely on giving and charities. Be sure to keep in touch with the charity by getting on their mailing list and following them on social media so that you and your team can see how they are doing. This will also help you to identify other ways you could help in the future.
Remote Quality Bookkeeping enjoys investing in the local community by offering an internship program to students who attend Stonehill College and Bridgewater State University. As well as providing pro-bono bookkeeping support to Nemasket River Productions Theatre Company.
If you are a small business owner, we would love to hear about the ways in which you are giving back. Feel free to leave us a comment below!