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Some people love charity. They’re wired for giving back and the idea of jumping in and lending a hand seems natural. Other people take a little more convincing while others would love to do more but finding the time, with all of the other responsibilities that come with being a small business owner, are next to impossible.
But what if being charitable produced revenue? Going into a charitable venture hoping to make money is probably going to leave you disappointed but there are plenty of ways that it could be good for business.
1. Taxes- Let’s start with one most people know about: taxes. Giving to charity comes with tax benefits but it’s not just cash. You can claim gifts of merchandise, mileage to and from an event in some cases, and the value of some services.
Not all gifts are deductible and there are limits based on your company’s income. The IRS has publications that will help you unlock the value in your charitable giving.
2. Visibility- Let’s be clear- having your logo placed in the program of a local ballet recital isn’t going to do wonders for you business but what if it were placed on a scoreboard or other high profile place? What if you were mentioned as a title sponsor in a radio spot or were allowed to set up a booth at an event?
If you’re looking to sponsor an event to gain visibility, put out the extra money for a single big event instead of a series of smaller events.
3. Morale- Your employees probably do close to the same work each day. The repetition of their day can cause burnout and diminishing morale. Working an event, offering to train employees at a non-profit, or organizing something new is a welcomed change to their workday. Top that off with a T-shirt and a paid day outside and you might find employees a little more energized.
4. Clean out the closets- If you’re a retail business, you have inventory lying around that isn’t going to sell. If you’re an IT firm, old computers and other electronics probably look like they’re reproducing in a closet. Keeping useless inventory comes with a cost. Somebody has to account for it, it takes up shelf space, and it ties up capital. Donating it not only liquidates it, you can claim it as a deduction and get a little bit of your money back. Most important, your unused inventory will make a big impact on somebody—either directly or indirectly.
5. Recruiting- It’s not hard to find people who want a job but getting the best people on your payroll is entirely different. One study found that 60 percent of millennials—the people who already have proven results doing the job you’re looking to fill, prefer to work for a company that is charitable. The most talented people will receive offers from multiple companies. Being charitable could make you a standout.
6. Networking- Are you a member of a Rotary Club, church, or other non-profit? Volunteering brings business professionals like you to the same place for a common purpose. What better place to do some networking than at charity events? Business leaders who are seen as charitable have a reputation of being trustworthy. Knowing who is worth your networking time is often difficult but it’s hard not to give somebody you meet while volunteering the benefit of the doubt. They’ll do the same for you.
7. Gain Online Awareness- As part of your sponsorship of a certain event, encourage people to go to your social media pages or website to sign up for your e-mail list to receive a free gift related to the event you’re sponsoring. For every dollar invested into e-mail marketing, studies show that you will receive an average of $44 in return. There are plenty of ways to push people to your online properties in conjunction with an event.
8. New Skills- What if you’re donating staff for the event? Maybe your graphic designer will work with other designers outside of your company to design media pieces. Your web person might do the same thing and your admin person will work with somebody else to put plans together. Regardless of who it is, working with others outside of your company will create a way to exchange ideas. Your employees will likely come back with new skills.
Don’t be charitable in order to get something in return. You’re only inviting disappointment from everybody involved but don’t view it as a complete outflow of resources on your part. You’re going to get a lot more in return than what you think you will but in the end, the best part of being charitable is the help you give others. We all live in the same world—helping others only makes it a better place for everybody.
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