Having recently watched the London Marathon (from my sofa) I was truly inspired by, not only the running but all the fundraising efforts. Last year, the event raised a record-breaking £63.7 million for charity, setting a new world record for a single day charity fundraising event for the 12th successive year*. Closer to home, this weekend we also saw George & the Giant Pledge, a local charity close to our hearts, hit their £1m target in just over 2 years!
As a business grows and profits rise, giving to charity naturally becomes part of the plan. As an act from the heart, it can often be difficult to associate giving with a strategy for business development. Planned correctly and carefully integrated into the overall strategic marketing plan, the way you communicate your charitable giving can further develop your business growth and strengthen your brand reputation.
Consumers support businesses that support charities
There are many reasons we support charity; feel good factor, our way to show support for others going through difficult times, religious beliefs, but how does this translate to business? Studies show that most consumers think businesses should support charities. In fact, research has identified that 88% of consumers said they were more likely to buy from a company that supports and engages in activities to improve society**
A fully integrated charity ‘giving’ programme, that you believe in and helps your community, is good for business. Not only from a consumer perspective, but also in terms of attracting employees to work for your company. A programme that allows employees’ input and offers them time to undertake volunteering can also boost staff morale. A 2016 Deloitte study on volunteering showed that Millennials were "twice as likely to rate their corporate culture as very positive" if their company participated in workplace volunteer activities.
Volunteering can also provide a great opportunity for team building activities, bringing your team closer together. It’s likely that your employees will invest more time in your company as you care for the community and charitable causes, which in turn increases their loyalty to the business.
Supporting your community
Charity donations help better your community. Whether it’s a small, local charity or a local branch of a larger national charity that you are supporting, it’s good to take an interest and do some good in your community. Corporate or matched donations are also likely to make a huge difference, especially to smaller charities, not to mention the good will your company will receive if you and your employees are giving time too. Sponsoring a local event would also allow your name to become known within the community and demonstrate to your staff and clients that you care about your business and their community.
From a Marketeer’s perspective, having a charity programme not only enhances your brand image but could be used a differentiator from your competitors, particularly if you have a price-driven product or offering. When faced with a choice between two companies that offer products and services for the same price, 82% said their decision would be affected by whether a company engaged with charities and its local community***.
When your business makes a charity donation, you can claim tax relief by deducting the value of your donations from your total business profits before you pay tax, therefore making them more cost effective for you. If you are a Ltd company you can offset money, equipment, shares and events sponsorship against Corporation tax, when donating to charity.
For Sole traders & Partnerships, donations to charities or local amateur sports clubs are also tax free. The tax goes to you or the charity depending on how you donate. You should speak to your accountant or financial adviser for more information advice.
Have a strategy
If you decide you want to give something back and are considering supporting a charity for your business, we would recommend ensuring you choose one that aligns with your business. For example, if your business is in the fitness sector, then consider a ‘Sportsaid’ type charity.
If you are a smaller business or don’t have time to develop a charity strategy, then why not consider a donation every time you reach a business target? There are non-profit organisations such as Buy1Give1, that support different charitable projects around the world. When your customers buy from you, you can allocate a donation, allowing you to embed giving into your business.
Lastly, your charity strategy must be authentic. You should have an affiliation and a genuine interest in the work and a desire to help them succeed. Using a charity purely for promotional purposes will soon be identified and could easily backfire on your brand reputation.
Donating to charities not only can have a positive impact on those you support, it can also help change your business and work culture. Look for something that you believe in and ways you can give back to your local community. Giving delivers the feel-good factor to you and your employees, and you don’t have to run 26.2 miles to achieve it!
**Better Business Journey, UK Small Business Consortium