Donating to a Non-Profit: What B2B Companies Should Consider
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Donating to a Non-Profit: What B2B Companies Should Consider

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I was recently telling one of my coworkers that it’s November and I have yet to achieve one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2013 – oops! A bit sad considering we are less than two months away ...

I was recently telling one of my coworkers that it’s November and I have yet to achieve one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2013 – oops! A bit sad considering we are less than two months away from having to set new ones, but hey, better late than never, right? One of my goals for this year was to identify and get involved in a local non-profit. It was something I did regularly as a teenager, through college and through my early professional life. I took a detour when my son was born with special needs and we ended up receiving the services of a local non-profit. Now it’s my time…my turn…to give back – and not just because 2014 is right around the corner!

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Donating to a Non-Profit: What B2B Companies Should Consider Donating to a Non-Profit: What B2B Companies Should Consider Document Transcript

  • Donating to a Non-Profit: What B2B Companies Should Consider I was recently telling one of my coworkers that it’s November and I have yet to achieve one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2013 – oops! A bit sad considering we are less than two months away from having to set new ones, but hey, better late than never, right? One of my goals for this year was to identify and get involved in a local non-profit. It was something I did regularly as a teenager, through college and through my early professional life. I took a detour when my son was born with special needs and we ended up receiving the services of a local non-profit. Now it’s my time…my turn…to give back – and not just because 2014 is right around the corner! This got me thinking, is there a formula companies should use when deciding to contribute to a local non-profit? Although we all know that giving back to your community is the right thing to do, with so many wonderful and deserving organizations, how do you decide who to align with? And should a company expect a return for its contributions besides a tax-break? Meaning, can/should a B2B company expect new business because of its efforts? Deciding on a non-profit There is no one-size-fits-all formula for picking and choosing a non-profit organization to donate your company’s time or dollars. That said, some careful thought and consideration should be given to this important decision. At ClearEdge, we are a small organization of more than 30 staff, and every one of us has a passion near and dear to our heart. ClearEdge makes annual donations to a select number of non-profits in lieu of sending printed holiday cards, choosing to reallocate the printing and postage dollars to charity, including the non-profit my family leaned on that I mentioned above. ClearEdge has also given to Dress for Success and Leading India’s Future Technology Today (LIFT) to name a few. This approach makes sense for our company and lets us support charitable organizations in the locations employees and consultants live and work around the world. On the flip side, I followed via LinkedIn the CEO of Panera Bread, Ron Shaich, as he lived off $4.50 a day for a week in September to raise awareness for hunger. What’s notable about Panera’s efforts to give back to the community by raising awareness about food insecurity in the U.S. as demonstrated by Mr. Shaich’s effort in the fall, as well as feeding people in need, is that it is directly tied to what they do as a business – making food.
  • So, as you think about the many deserving non-profits, you’ll want to ask if your company should align its philanthropy efforts to an organization that mirrors the passions of your staff, or your line of business. Likewise, you’ll want to determine if it makes sense to give a lot to just one organization, or a little to several. In researching this article, experts suggest that unlike your financial portfolio where it’s best to diversity, when it comes to charitable contributions, it’s better to research one organization and put all your efforts behind it. The reason, they say, is that small donations may only be enough to cover the cost to process it, meaning the end recipient you were intending to help may never see the benefits of your dollars. Once you know “what” and “how many,” you’ll inevitably get to a short list of nonprofits to consider and when you do, be sure to look at them closely. Don’t be afraid to ask for financial records, including how many of your dollars are going to the intended recipient versus administrative fees. In addition, find out what your money will be used for and hold the non-profit accountable for reporting back with confirmation that the actions were completed. Getting a return on your contribution When you personally make a donation of time or money to a charity, typical expectations of what you get in return is: • • • That “warm and fuzzy” feeling knowing you’ve helped those who really need it If you’re giving your time, you likely have an opportunity to engage with likeminded individuals who also share your passion for the organization and their goals A tax-break for your donation of money While these same benefits apply to corporate contributions, as a company, should you expect a business return on your donation in the way of say, new business or new connections that will lead to new business? Experts suggest that while you can likely expect to gain new business through your efforts – as with everything…you get out of it what you put into it – and it shouldn’t be a driving force behind why you make a donation. Surely giving provides a marketing opportunity, whether you promote your efforts on your website, in a press release, through social media or a dedicated event, but new business is a soft outcome. More likely you can expect a proud, supportive and dedicated workforce as a result of your contributions. Corporate donations amounted to $18.97B of the $316.23B that was given to charitable organizations in 2012. Deciding what non-profit to give to and how much money to give are not decisions to be made lightly. Determining if a non-profit should tie into your company’s line of business, or the passions of your or your staff is a great first place to start. Once you have a refined list of charitable organizations, conduct your due diligence to ensure they are deserving of your donations. Finally, remember that while marketing and business opportunities may avail through your philanthropic efforts, these should be a nice aside to the bigger picture – giving back to the communities in which you serve. Do you give to non-profit organizations? How did you choose the charitable organization? Have you seen business come from your efforts?