Avoid These 7 Business Giving Pitfalls

By: Maggie F. Keenan, Ed.D.

Last week, I gave a teleclass on small business giving. More and more, businesses of all sizes are giving back from solo-entrepreneurs to large corporations. But, with the growing number of nonprofit organizations, it's hard to choose among so many different charities and it's hard to say at time.

So, here is my list of the most common pitfalls businesses make with their charitable giving.

1. Stick with 'pink' because it's popular.
Simply because a particular cause is popular is not the right reason to make it an area of focus for your giving. You have to clearly align causes with what your company stands for. Your giving needs to reflect or mirror your purpose and priorities because your giving program is your unique compelling community involvement story.

2. Think your business is too small for a giving program.
No business is too small for a giving program. I hear so often, "My business is too small. It's just me and I only give to a few charities." If your in business and you give something, then your too can make a difference for your bottom-line and the causes you give.

3. Treating giving like an aside project.
This is a biggy and leads to your giving not making an impact for your business. After all we are talking about your time, cash and maybe product being given away for to causes. Your business needs to have a giving plan each year and it should be given the same attention, planning and management you place on every other aspect of your business.

4. It's a good way to get p.r.
Here is my take on this. If you want to get your name out there and get others to know about your business, then hire a public relations professional. I actually had a business man say to me once, "Oh I need to talk with you about how you can help get my business known and if I can do through what you do, that would be great!" I never called him. Here's why... his intention was not authentic. His reasons for wanting a giving program were simply not genuine and were for all the wrong reasons.

5. Not talking with your financial advisor or tax advisor.
Not all giving is considered a charitable deduction. So don't get stumped at the end of the year, if you find out that all of what you gave cannot be a deduction on your tax return. There are so many factors, one being the structure of your business (e.g. LLC, etc...). Make it a point to consult with your advisor and review your giving plan.

6. Giving a little to a lot.
Don't feel obligated to spread your generosity. When you do this several things happen. First, you don't get to convey your unique compelling community involvement story. So your message gets lost in an already overcrowded marketplace. Secondly, your program or lack of one doesn't make the impact your desire. Essentially, your giving impact gets watered down.

7. Forget to create a communication plan.
Consumers hold companies to some standard of 'doing good'. It's the right thing to do and it creates goodwill. Telling your unique community involvement story is also refreshing news in today's time. You will find joy in sharing your how your business makes a difference. My take is, when just one person shares what they do, it gets others to think about their giving and soon enough it creates a wonderful snowball effect.

? 2007. Maggie F. Keenan, Ed.D. All rights reserved.

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