How to Incorporate Social Giving in Your Small Business

Author: Caron Beesley | November 28, 2016

As we enter the season of social giving, have you considered ways in which your business can give back to those in need or to your community? According to Charity Navigator, 31% of annual giving occurs in the month of December and Giving Tuesday (a national day for giving fueled by social media that falls after Cyber Monday), has become a huge part of the social giving calendar.

Social giving is also good for your books. Giving before year-end provides a tax deduction in the current year.

Social Giving: Small Business-Style

Look to Your Community

If you’re unsure where to start focusing your social giving efforts, look to your community. Are there schools, animal rescue centers, or other organizations that are struggling? Could you incorporate fundraisers into your business calendar or contribute on-the-ground manpower to help organizations in need?

Get Your Employees Pumped

Everyone wants to do good, but social good is also good for your team and their relationships with you. Not only do employees respect leaders who care, but it also makes them feel good themselves, which in turn drives motivation and boosts morale. A survey by the Reputation Institute found that 42% of how people feel about a company is a based on the firm’s social responsibility.

Volunteering is also a great team-building exercise for your staff, giving them a chance to flex their talents and test skills in a new environment.

Choose a Program that Matters to Your Team and Your Customers

To ensure success, select a giving activity that is both in tune with your business’ mission and one that aligns with your team profile. Review your employee’s core strengths as well as what motivates them and match your business with an initiative that takes advantage of these. Don’t forget to consider your customers too: Make sure your efforts jive with your customer base and what matters to them.

Give Back with a CSR Program

Social giving is an increasingly important selling point for companies of all sizes, and it doesn’t just involve charitable giving or volunteering. Companies can also differentiate themselves through corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. From established businesses like The Body Shop and Facebook to growing businesses like Farm Girl Flowers, many of today’s most successful companies are well-regarded by customers because of their commitment to making the world a better place and incorporating that message back into their business.

As a small business, consider ways in which you’re making a difference. It doesn’t have to be big global problems. If you run a car wash company, are there ways in which your business is renewing resources (water) or using environmentally-friendly products in the cleaning process?

Restaurants could donate unused food to charities or food banks.

If you run a landscaping company, could you provide free services to local charitable organizations or community projects like schools, youth programs, or any other social mission that has an outside space?

Let Your Customers Know

Let your customers know what you’re doing, the story behind it, the impact you hope to achieve, and any results. If you’ve involved customers in the giving process or if their purchases have a direct impact on the program, keep them abreast of updates: “Your donation/purchase helped us ensure XYZ was able to achieve ABC in the past month.”

Don’t Forget to Check Your Finances

Check your books or consult your accountant to gauge what your business can take on from an operational standpoint. For example, if your cash flow forecast suggests that the next three months may be rocky, then you may want to reconsider how you allocate resources (time and employees) and prioritize social giving efforts. Similarly, talk to a tax expert about any tax benefits you may be able to claim on this year’s tax return.

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