Support Good Causes: Charitable Giving
by Robert Lerose.
With the holiday season upon us, small businesses will once again find their mailboxes overflowing with charitable appeals. A recent report by Blackbaud, a software provider for nonprofits, found that more than one-third of all charitable giving happens in the last three months of the year. That giving really adds up: According to Giving USA Foundation, American corporations and businesses gave over $16 billion in charitable gifts in 2013. Obviously, every small business wants to ensure that the dollars they donate are used wisely, but how can they evaluate a charity’s efficiency? What’s a sensible way to choose good causes to support? We asked some fundraising experts to give us their perspective on how small businesses can make informed judgments fordoing good.
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While charities are still happy to accept monetary donations, they are also open to other forms of support. “Businesses can think about ways that can bring their own expertise to a particular charity,” says Michael Nilsen, vice president of public affairs for the Association of Fundraising Professionals. “I think most charities would love it if an organization came to them and said that they’d like to get more involved.”
For example, Nilsen says that many charitable organizations would welcome an overhaul of their website or someone to help them with their social media efforts—services that a small business could provide. Nilsen explains that large national charitable organizations are doing well, but that smaller charities are still recovering from the economic downturn and can use help in many different forms.
Nilsen recommends zeroing in on the issues that matter deeply to the business and to the employees and then find charities that support them. “The charity process gets better when there are more engaged donors and engaged volunteers—as opposed to trying to figure out what’s most efficient or most effective—because there’s no easy way to measure that,” he says. “You could have five different charities working on the same issue and they’re probably doing five different things, whether it’s research or program implementation. Figure out what’s most important to you and focus your giving on that. Find out from employees about organizations that they like, so you’ve got that engagement started already.”