Give Back to the Community by Maintaining a Charitable Giving Program
Whether you are watching TV or reading your local newspaper, it is common to see nonprofits requesting donations for various causes. Instead of letting these opportunities fall by the wayside, franchises and other organizations should take an active role in supporting charities on both a national and local level. If an organization has the resources, giving back to the community should be a priority.
It’s my belief that organizations should make it a focus to establish and maintain charitable giving programs because, in most cases, we have the capital and resources to do it. Running a business means that we generate revenue and profits, and I believe that we have an obligation to give some of that back and provide some benefits to the larger society of which we are a part. This is one of those cases wherein a small contribution by a large number of businesses can have a major positive effect on society that compounds with more participation.
Charitable contributions can have several benefits for both the organization and the charities that receive the donations. On a personal level, I believe the biggest benefit is that we, collectively and in our own way, do benefit society with our involvement in charitable programs. A secondary benefit is that both the franchise owners and corporate staff can feel good about working for a company that is doing some good above and beyond taking care of their clients, which can add more meaning to the employees and owner’s daily work.
Having a charitable giving program can also let the world know that you care about more than just making a profit, which can attract potential clients and employees. In addition to those internal benefits, the monetary donations and time spent with the nonprofit will only help the cause in which you are supporting.
Starting and Maintaining Charitable Giving Programs
It is never too late to start a charitable giving program. Whether you have been in business for five years or 100 years, there is always an opportunity to give back to the community or support a cause you are passionate about. In fact, I would encourage it. Remember, it is OK to start small. View this as a long-term, permanent part of your business’s culture and give it time to grow both organically and as a result of intentional effort. It’s important to understand that every employee or franchisee may not buy into it immediately for a variety of reasons. Don’t let this dissuade you from starting a program – and sticking with it.
When it comes to starting a charitable giving program, the first principle is to be authentic and choose a cause or organization that is personally important or is relevant to the business. Too many businesses choose to associate with people or organizations strictly for publicity. Others, unfortunately, choose causes that are political in nature, which are inherently divisive and will put off or offend a large portion of the population. I would recommend against this form of charitable giving. Take the time to speak with your leadership team and employees to determine what causes are important to them. This will help you form a broader understanding of the mindset of your employee base. Then narrow the search down to two or three organizations that mean the most to you and your company.
At Gotcha Covered, we give to causes that we wholeheartedly support. For example, we support a charity called Fisher House, which provides free local housing to the families of military veterans who are being treated at nearby military hospitals. For us, this is a perfect combination since it involves the support of our veterans, which is very near and dear to us, and is related to housing. We also support women’s cancer charities, which is important to us because our typical clients are women, who are inherently at-risk for both breast and ovarian cancer.
Once your organization has determined which cause you want to support, I would recommend exploring some of the organizations that support that particular cause. Not all charitable organizations are created equal, and you can find some more information and reference from third-party review sites like Charity Navigator in the U.S. or Charity Intelligence in Canada. Each one evaluates and provides free data on thousands of charitable organizations and will be immensely helpful in guiding you to the right group to support.
Once the program is in place, it is up to the business owner to maintain the donation efforts. There are no one-size-fits-all approaches to running your program, but these steps will help you get off on the right foot. Remember, while this can have a positive effect on your business and its reputation, it is also an important aspect of running a organization. If you have the means to provide support to relevant causes, it is in the best interest of your community to do so.
Paul Linenberg is the president of Gotcha Covered, a custom window treatment franchise that has over 120 franchises in the United States and Canada combined. The company specializes in providing end-to-end consultation to its clients. For more information, please visit gotchacovered.com. For more information regarding Gotcha Covered franchising opportunities, please visit gotchacoveredfranchising.com