Holiday giving is about more than just giving to a good cause; it generates goodwill with your customers by showing them that you care about more than the bottom line. Consumers are socially conscious, more than 80 percent of them support brands that support causes, and over 41 percent will base their purchases on the causes a company supports. Ask yourself these three questions as you plan your holiday giving this season.
Where Should We Donate?
Where you donate sends a powerful message to consumers about your business. The best way to decide where to donate is to either ask your employees or study your customers. Your staff might have personal ties to or be passionate about specific causes, such as leukemia research. Supporting those causes will impact not only your public image, but increase internal morale as well. On the other hand, you can study your customer profile and support the type of charities they support. For example, if a majority of your customers are women, consider giving to or volunteering at a woman’s shelter.
Are They Reputable?
Once you decide on a charity or cause, put it through a rigorous examination. Unfortunately there are many charities in America that are little more than scams, with more money going to administrative costs than to the people the charity claims to help. The last thing you want is for your company’s brand to become connected to a charity scandal.
There are several ways to ensure the charity is legitimate is and following through on their stated mission. First, check with the IRS to find out if the charity is registered and recognized as a non-profit organization. If it’s not, your donations are not tax deductible. Second, ask the charity about its sources of funding, where the money goes, and its goals for the future. Reputable charities are upfront about their mission, and transparent in their finances. Finally, use a site like GuideStar.org for a third-party analysis of the charity.
What Should We Give?
Finally, holiday giving is not just about money, there are other things you can give that have much greater impact on your community and your brand image. Typically there are four things that you can give to a charity.
- Money—A monetary donation allows the charity to make its own decisions about how the money is spent. Employees and customers can participate through fundraising drives.
- Products—If your company makes products that can help the mission of the organization, such as t-shirts for a homeless shelter, the product donation can go further than money.
- Services—Retirement planning advice, website upgrades, or marketing services are all things that cost the charity a fortune when they use an outside contractor. Think about providing those services through your company as a charitable gift.
- Time—Consumers want to see companies do more than just give money; they want companies to make a difference in their community. Consider a volunteer project in conjunction with your charity. The event does good work for the charity, your image, and builds employee engagement within your organization.
It requires some time and thought to find the perfect match between a company and a charity. This year, let your holiday giving mean something by investing time and energy into finding your ideal charity partner.