Charitable Donation Programs: Boosting your Business While Serving the Community
Supporting local charities and non-profits can be quite a worthwhile endeavor - not only for the recipients of your donations, but for your business as well. The truth is that working charitable donation programs into your business model not only supports a noble cause of your choosing, but it also builds community, boosts reputation and attracts customers. Not to mention the tax deduction benefits…
As any business owner will contend, however, this is easier said than done! How does one choose which charities, non-profits and organizations to support? Are they reputable? What about setting up legitimate customer-donation programs?
Whether online or in person, customer donation-based or pledge-based, there are a number of ways to set up services for getting customer dollars to the source.
But before diving in, take these considerations into account:
Choose your charity
Finding a reputable charity online is more easily accomplished with a little help. Whether you decide to donate proceeds directly to a particular non-profit or, send it into a larger pool of funds to be distributed by a trusted source, you first need a bit of organization. That being said, www.JustGiving.com is probably your best bet. This large, worldwide organization is dedicated to giving; it will help you search for causes you want to support, find legitimate charities that fit your preferences, and help you set up a customer/business donation plan.
If possible, try to pick charities that relate to your business purpose (i.e. a vet clinic giving a certain percentage of proceeds to help rescues stray animals). This is not only more appealing to customers, but also more relevant as a business tactic.
Decide how you want to go about donating
Should a dollar/percentage of each sale go to charity? Should it be customer-donation based? A set amount from your company each month? Online or cash? There are countless ways of getting customer dollars to a charity, and having an idea ahead of time will help you decide what type of plan to set up. If you know exactly where you want your donations to go, your best bet is to work directly with the source, as they can be quite flexible. Otherwise, there are plenty of organizations that will help you set up a plan and distribute donations accordingly (explained below).
If possible, ensure the donors can clearly see where their dollars are going. This is not only to well-inform donors, but it also encourages larger donations. For example, a plea that states, “$2 provides this child (include a picture) clean water for one day,” is far more effective than simply handing over $2 to a clean water charity.
Consider having a specific timeframe for paying out your charity, regardless which methods are used to collect donations. Most charities will work with you in the creation of a payment plan.
Create a reciprocal relationship
When set up properly, a charitable donation program should be profitable to both the charity and the business. You want to set up partnerships that will maximize profits and foster growth within your company.
Be sure to advertise! Bringing attention to a noble cause makes your business more appealing, encourages customers to spend more and ultimately, raises more donations for your charity.
While working directly with a local charity or non-profit is one option, there are a number of larger organizations that oversee lots of charities, distribute funds as needed, and will set up a direct donation plan for you.
- B1G1 (Buy 1 Give 1) is a membership program for small and medium businesses that oversees hundreds of service projects in over 30 countries. All donations go straight to the supported projects of your choice and you are able to distribute the funds accordingly. While they do all the organizing for you, you are still in total control.
- 1% for the Planet is a great way for businesses themselves to give back. With this plan, businesses donate 1% of their profits to any of about 3,300 non-profits. While this doesn’t rely on customer donations, it is a great way to make a business more attractive to customers.
- For online businesses, Network for Good provides a reliable donation system that can be used with any charity or company with internet access. While most charitable organizations already have systems in place for the collection of donations, this can be useful for a variety of fundraising efforts.
When it comes to raising money for charity, a little business sense can go a long way. As a business owner, you have the power to make a huge difference in the world. How you go about it, is entirely up to you. Systems for organizing donations may seem intimidating initially, but remember: charities are flexible, and you are in control. As Dr. Seuss said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
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