"Lots of people think they're charitable if they give away their old clothes and things they don't want."
--- Myrtle Reed
I'm not sure how it works in your area, but it seems that whenever you are recognized as a business leader, charitable organizations begin bombarding you with solicitations for donations. This is not a bad thing. In fact, it is smart business and we would do the same thing if we knew of prospects for our business had the same salesmanship moxie that some of these charities have. The challenge is deciding where, when, and what to give.
We all have our favorites and are probably currently giving on a regular basis. If the reason for giving is in line with your personal values and is a reflection of your business mission, vision, and purpose statements, then by all means we should continue to give what we can. But what do we do with all the other charities standing at the door with open hands?
"I didn't want my epitaph to read 'Here lies John Caudwell, billionaire.' I knew that wasn't enough. I've had a charitable instinct all my life, but working gave me no time for it."
--- John Caudwell
Aligning our business with a charitable organization that we believe in is obviously a good thing. When we give regularly, the charity can create an annual budget that includes that dollar amount. It is helpful for accounting purposes for the charity and allows them to allot the money we give to specific areas of need. If we believe in the charity and how it is run, we feel better giving knowing that the resources will be put to good use.
Systematically giving also frees up time for us and our business by putting the giving on autopilot. We can then plan on specific dates for allowing employees to provide sweat equity for the charity and to give of their time as needed, if that type of giving applies. A regular giving program to specific charities also makes it easier to give a polite "no" to other charities soliciting for your business resources.
"Tim Tebow is one of my biggest inspirations. I actually want to be able to do some of the things that he does in terms of the amount of charity work and the non-profit work, and the way he impacts people off the field. I think that is what is most inspiring to me about him."
--- Jeremy Lin
But giving to a charitable organization sends a message to team members and the community. It lets others know that you appreciate the success your community has allowed you to enjoy and now you want to give back to a cause that is in line with your company's values.
"I love making people laugh and by the way I still do that with the charitable efforts on my part because I believe that people need to laugh."
--- Goldie Hawn
Though this should only be seen as a byproduct of giving, doing so can also positively affect your marketing efforts. Most charitable organizations will recognize businesses that give at annual banquets, charity brochures, websites, and more. This form of advertisement isn't the reason for giving, but is unavoidable, so why fight it? The point is to make sure that it is a charity that you and your company are aligned with in regard to the charitable work performed and the mission of the charity.
"Writing checks for charities is necessary and important. But it can't compare with corporal works of mercy, which are infinitely greater."
--- William E. Simon
Finally, if there isn't a charity in your community that you can believe in, please don't give. You are better off taking your team members out one Saturday to mend fences, mow lawns, and paint porches for the elderly in your community. Giving should be cheerfully from the heart and not out of coercion or because it is the popular thing to do.
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