Expert Advice about Small Business Philanthropy

2 minute read

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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.”