Five Tips for Giving Back to Your Community Through Acts of Service
- May 5, 2014
- By: Vonigo
Business owners are problem-solvers who improve their communities every day by delivering services to people who need them. Volunteerism and acts of charity enable businesses to play an even more prominent role in civic life by giving back to their community. While some people call it corporate social responsibility, you might think of it as simply being a good neighbor.
Corporate giving accounted for five percent of the $298.4 billion Americans donated in 2011, according to Giving USA Foundation, which does an annual report on philanthropy. If you’ve ever thought about starting a work-sponsored volunteer program, or another form of community benefit program, we’ve compiled a short list with five ways to help you maximize the positive impact you can create.
Set a goal for giving
Commit to reaching a goal, either in dollars or time spent performing volunteer service. People always want to be helpful to others, and setting a bold, yet achievable target is a great way to get the ball rolling. As any student of human nature will tell you, adding an element of competition can transform your good deed into a cause. Setting a high, but reachable goal for community service, either in time donated, money collected, or another form of participation, can be a great way to rally members of your team around a common cause and to boost morale.
There are hundreds of worthy charitable causes to support, whether you live in a small town or a big city. Remember that the need can be overwhelming. Align your corporate philanthropic efforts with your goals as a business. This “brand synergy” will enable you and your team to play to its strengths, and also to say no to opportunities that fall outside your focal area. It’s impossible for you to help everyone, but never forget that your commitment to the community has a real impact.
Partner with a local non-profit
It’s important to align your company mission with your volunteer and community service activities. Choosing a non-profit partner is another way to strategically enhance the effect of your philanthropic efforts while playing to your strengths as a business. Your contribution through a non-profit can be in the form of skill-sharing, use of company equipment or manpower, depending on what you do, or what is needed.
And because non-profits devote a considerable amount of their time to fundraising and awareness activities, your partnership will expose your company to individuals and companies who share your worldview. All non-profit organizations have a board of directors, many of whom are prominent members of the local community. So in addition to helping improve your community, your volunteer service has very real potential to introduce you to new strategic partners and new business opportunities.
Sponsor employee volunteer hours
Encourage your employees to perform community service by paying their wages when they donate their time to a non-profit organization one day out of the month, once per quarter, or at an interval that makes sense.
Company-sponsored volunteer hours are a great way to gain exposure for your business by having your staff where their uniforms during their service time. But whether your logo gets visibility or not, you’re still fostering a sense of purpose and creating goodwill by making it easy for your employees to give back to the community.
Match employee charitable donations
A great way to encourage your employees to give back to the community is to match cash donations. An employee matching program spurs your team to dig deep in their pockets with the knowledge that their money will go twice as far. Your matching contribution doubles the impact of any employee gifts to registered non-profits, and is still tax deductible. Call it a double win.
A final word about taxes
Most acts of corporate giving you perform are tax deductible, which is an additional benefit beyond the contribution you make to your community. But make sure to check with your accountant before you subtract the value of goods or services donated from your annual income statement. Depending on your business structure you may have to claim charitable gifts, and other in-kind service donations as itemized deductions on your personal income tax returns. Only a certified financial advisor knows what is right for you.
At Vonigo we believe in businesses leading by example, and making the world better through local contributions. As a company Vonigo makes direct donations to The World Food Program. Additionally we have committed one percent of company equity and profits to charitable programs.