We’ve told you why incorporating social giveback programs is important to your business strategy; now we’re going to give you tips on how to do it!
Do your research
Just as you wouldn’t enter into a business deal without researching a new potential partner, read up on charities before deciding which one (or ones) to support.
Charity Navigator is a great place to start because it aggregates data about most charities in the United States. By law, each registered non-profit must make its Form 990 public. To clarify, this means you can find out what percentage of funds it receives are going to its stated purpose (versus non-charitable activities like advertising), how much each board member receives in compensation each year, and how much funding the charity is receiving from other big donors. This can give you an idea as to how much good your donations may do.
Additionally, search for negative news stories, legal claims or bad coverage the charity has received. It may be an indication you don’t want your brand associated with it.
Look for a natural tie-in to your product or company
Look for an opportunity tied to your products or services. For example, headphone and speaker company LSTN Sound Co. gives a portion of its profits from every product sold to provide hearing aids for people in need.
A strong “why” behind the social giving connection will help customers remember you — humans have evolved over millennia to value storytelling. If there isn’t an obvious connection between your business and a local cause, the next best thing is a cause the founder is personally connected to. Perhaps you have a family member who has dealt with a particular illness or disability. Align with that cause and tell your customers why it’s personal to you.
Have an outside partner verify your giving
It can seem as if the government loves setting regulations for small businesses. Charitable giving by small businesses is no exception. For example, there are myriad rules governing giving, from how you can advertise it ($1 from every bottle sold benefits Charity XYZ) to how you may be able to claim it (or not) on your year-end returns.
In order to protect yourselves, it’s wise to have a third-party monitor and verify your giving practices. In addition, you should get written confirmation from the charity to which you’re donating. Talk to your accountant or lawyer about the best tracking mechanism for your business. Although the extra step may sound like a headache now, it will provide the peace of mind needed to free you up to focus on the important things.