Expert Advice about Small Business Philanthropy

    By | Small Business

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    From Russell Hodge, III of the Dublin, Ohio-based Hodge Group:

    “Informally survey customers and employees and to learn what they would like to see in the company’s giving program.  Those informal discussions will shed light and make the owners more comfortable with their final choices.”

    “Visit the rehab center, homeless shelter or children’s hospital you are considering supporting. Burn some shoe leather and talk to people. It’s high touch and low tech, but it will help you decide.”

    “If you’re making a gift, make sure it works within that year’s budget before telling associates or customers. You don’t want to strain the company’s resources to do it. Don’t overpromise and under deliver.”

    “Talk to your accountant to consider tax implications. There are many different corporate models and each has a different charitable tax implication.”

    “Start small and know that any gift will make a difference and understand that this will be a long term value proposition for the company. Don’t look at it as a one-time transaction, but as an ongoing part of how you do business.”

    From Lansie Sylvia, director of engagement for the Philadelphia-based creative agency, Here’s My Chance:

    “Research any charity you’re considering. Most are amazing, but some will be scams or cannot create the impact you’d like to see.  Go online to check Guidestar.org and review the not for profit’s 990 tax forms. Check with your local Better Business Bureau for complaints or visit Charity Navigator. That will make you feel more confident.”

    “Expand your charitable giving to involve peers, customers, vendors and suppliers. Magnify the impact of your support by bringing in others, for example, by hosting events.”

    “Evaluate the charitable partnership. There’s nothing wrong picking a new organization to support every year, but be upfront with them. Unclear expectations can cause problems.”

    “Consider giving employees a paid day off or two to volunteer for a charitable cause. It’s a good way to begin philanthropy without a huge upfront investment.”

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