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5 Tips for Introducing a Charitable Giving Program to Your Company


By Evrim Oralkan

Capitalism as we know it is over. Enter Ben & Jerry’s, Starbucks, Whole Foods Market, Panera Bread, TOMS Shoes, and other companies that have soared in the wake of Great Recession cynicism with a heavy focus on “conscious capitalism.”

Charitable giving and a corporate focus on sustainability are not only becoming profitable; they’re becoming necessary for survival. In 2013, 97 percent of companies surveyed reported allocating specific budgets for corporate citizenship, compared to 81 percent in 2010.

This supports a growing trend toward socially conscious consumption. Consumers prefer to buy from businesses they perceive as “doing good.” In fact, 50 percent of global consumers said they’d be willing to pay more for goods and services from socially responsible companies.

The best thing about donating, though, is that it has two-way benefits. When J.C. Penney and the World Wildlife Fund worked together to produce a line of T-shirts bearing the WWF logo, the charity received the proceeds from more than 1 million shirts and expanded its audience. J.C. Penney got to associate its brand with an organization doing meaningful work.

But business leaders should think beyond revenue when they consider charitable giving. Knowing their hard work is making the planet a better place can amplify employees’ motivation.

How to Get Your Team Behind Charitable Giving

However nice a corporate social responsibility initiative might sound on paper, you may find that your employees are reluctant to embrace charitable giving. They might worry company profits will be taken from other valuable areas — such as employee salaries and bonuses — or they may disagree about the best cause to support.

With these concerns in mind, you need to think carefully about how you introduce the idea to your team. Here are five proven tips to help you rally your troops behind charitable giving:

  • Research suitable charities beforehand. You should have a few causes and institutions in mind before you bring the idea to your team so your employees know you’ve thought this through. Do your homework on a site such as Charity Navigator to make sure the organizations you have in mind are responsibly managed.

  • Be transparent. Thoughtfully explaining why you want to try something new will always work better than announcing a sudden change without an explanation. If employees understand your motivations, they’ll be more likely to get excited about it themselves and support you.

  • Brainstorm together. Hold a brainstorming session with the whole team to get everyone involved in the process of choosing a charity. Ask for employee suggestions, create a list of causes that align with your organization’s goals, and vote to determine the group’s favorites.

  • Choose young causes. Getting behind an organization that’s in its infancy might help the team feel more connected to the cause. With smaller institutions, it’s easier to see how you’re making a difference because they’re often closer to the ground, helping those in need or responding to disasters.

  • Give rewards. Consider rewarding your employees when they volunteer for the cause your company supports. A free T-shirt, an afternoon off, or a fun team event will boost morale and create some positive associations with charitable giving. Of course, if a charity event is on a Saturday or Sunday, make employee participation completely voluntary.

Our team learned these lessons when we decided to start donating a portion of our proceeds to a good cause. Through collective brainstorming, we determined that we wanted to have a direct impact on making Miami a better place to live. We also found that it was important to our team to help those in need and create opportunities for everyone in the community.

Because of these insights, we decided to focus on local causes. We chose Lotus House Shelter, which provides support and shelter for women, youth, and children experiencing homelessness, and Locust Projects, which helps promote the arts and assist artists in Miami.

By working as a team and focusing on how we could make a real difference in our corner of the world, we made a giving decision we could all get excited about and became a kinder, more motivated business. By following these tips, you can make giving back an integral part of your organization, which will make your company more appealing to your customers and give your team fresh motivation to succeed.

Image credit: Flickr/zenlight

Evrim Oralkan is the founder and CEO of Travertine Mart, a boutique online flooring company specializing in premium-grade travertine pavers, tiles, and pool coping. Until Travertine Mart’s founding in 2007, travertine could only be found in brick-and-mortar shops. Travertine Mart has provided a cost-effective solution that brings high-quality travertine straight to your door. Travertine Mart was named to the Inc. 5000 list in 2012 and 2013 and was a nominee for the 2013 Edison Award.

3p Contributor

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