Small Businesses Get Big Returns for Charitable Giving

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reregeIn today’s world, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is critical to a small business’ success. One form of CSR that is key to growth is charitable giving. When done in a mutually beneficial way, giving reaps its own rewards. As charitable giving advocate Alex Perdikis notes in his recent blog post, helping your community also helps your business. Here are just a few of the ways giving back pays back.

  1. The Feel-Good Factor

Don’t underestimate the powerful impact giving will have on your life and the lives of your employees—seriously! Humans are hard-wired for giving. Scientific research demonstrates that the reward centers of our brains are stimulated by giving. In other words, altruism physiologically makes us feel good, so we continue to practice it. Even more interesting is the fact that the happiness created by doing good for others acts as a kind of buffer against stress. According to researchers, this reduction in stress correlates with a decrease in mortality rate—so, in short, doing good for others reduces stress and thereby increases life expectancy. For both donor and recipient, charity can be quite literally life-giving! Consider those who give and receive blood donations.

  1. Giving Creates Goodwill

If “giving creates goodwill” is not considered an adage, it should be. While we think we know what the phrase means, we certainly forget how much it can mean. Here, the term “goodwill” means the positive reputation and consumer loyalty your business creates in the community you serve. Creating goodwill allows your business to exercise more influence in the community because individuals, other businesses and nonprofit organizations trust your company and the products or services you provide. Going out and working alongside people who support the same charities you support is very powerful. Your company should do this consistently, over a period of years, and with a variety of charitable efforts. If you do, your business will build relationships with many people who then become loyal to your business. By networking at charitable events, you will form partnerships with other like-minded businesses and organizations.

All of this translates into a stronger, more valuable company. If and when you decide to sell, a tax or business attorney can help you determine what your “goodwill” is worth in dollars. (Now I’m using the term in the true legal sense.) Assuming your company can demonstrate that it has established goodwill, your goodwill can be sold as an intangible asset along with your tangible business assets.

  1. Better Employee Hiring & Retention

Employees, especially the transient, highly sought-after millennial workers, want more than just traditional benefits and opportunities. A 2016 Cone study reveals that the millennial segment (ages 27–35) is much more likely to view CSR as a key factor in both hiring and retention. These are your future leaders, and with them a knowledge base that’s extremely valuable to retain. Two-thirds of this group won’t take a position with a company that doesn’t have a robust CSR commitment (vs. 51 percent U.S. average). Once hired, these same employees are much more likely to remain loyal (83 percent vs. 70 percent U.S. average), if they feel like their work makes a positive impact on social and environmental issues they’re passionate about.

Engaging with employees by calling for their charity ideas and allowing them to assist with charitable work on their own terms (e.g., by using paid volunteer days) is critical. When employees are able to work on issues that are personally important to them and contribute to their overall career development, they are much more likely to remain with the company. So, engage them!

  1. Profitable PR

Don’t be bashful in front of the cameras! Images of you and your team caught in acts of charity will end up in newspapers, perhaps on local or national television, and definitely all over the web. As part of your business and giving plan, you should take advantage of this inevitable publicity for business purposes. Plan to take photos of you and your employees working for charity. Get testimonials from participants about what they did, if they liked the work, and how it positively impacted the charity. Put these on your company’s website and send them out in consumer newsletters.

Do a little marketing negotiation with your charity of choice. Ask that they post these photos and testimonials on their website and at their brick-and-mortar locations in exchange for your help. Perhaps you can ask the charity to put a call out to local newspapers or TV stations regarding your partnership. Media outlets are often in need of such “do good, feel good” stories. Why? We just don’t get enough of them in our lives.

Now that you know how beneficial charity can be to you and your business, get out there and do some good!

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