Wherever you live, you’re sure to hear stories about some big corporation or another in your neighborhood making impressive donations or setting up grant programs. Corporate charitable giving drives much of the charity (and the science) happening in this country, and is one of the most important ways large companies contribute to society.
What many small to mid-sized businesses don’t realize, however, is that they share in this ability to effect real change with their own charitable giving. While no company of 5 or 50 employees is going to match what a large organization like the Lilly Endowment can give, there are some seriously powerful benefits for companies of any size to make charitable giving a part of their financial strategy.
First, the tangible tax benefits of charitable donations. In some cases, it might make a lot of sense for your business to donate money to a nonprofit organization to enjoy the benefits of the accompanying tax write off. As long as your chosen nonprofit is an official 501(c)(3), every dollar you donate can lower your ultimate tax liability.
Before donating, use the IRS’s Cumulative List of Organizations (found in a searchable format here) to make sure your charity of choice qualifies you for a tax write off. Also, there may be special rules in place for donations over $250 in value. Read this guide to charitable contribution substantiation and requirement documents to make sure you keep a proper record of your donation for tax purposes.
Aside from those financial benefits of giving, depending on your chosen nonprofit organization, you may receive some valuable brand exposure. And while you may not see buildings named for your company, it’s entirely possible that a significant donation to the right organization could get your company’s name and logo in front of potential customers.
Think about your target audience. Who are your prospective customers? Where do they live? What are their interests? If you can select a cause that matches both your company’s mission and the interests of your customers and supporters, your charitable contributions could bring you a lot of new business.
Finally, ask yourself why you do what you do in the first place. Especially if you’re the founder of a small business, or you’ve chosen to work on a smaller team, there’s likely something attractive to you about the idea of steering your own ship, being in control of your own destiny. Just as a small business is free to work how it chooses, to work with only those customers it wants, to do things their own way, charitable giving is just another chance for that small group of passionate people to identify a cause they believe in and really focus their charitable efforts for the year on that cause.
Whatever the size of your donations, you’re sure to make an impact on the things you’re passionate about. If you’re looking for a worthy cause to support this year, read up on the research mission of the Caroline Symmes Cancer Endowment, the funding challenge faced by researchers looking to find new treatments for pediatric cancer, and how your donation can help us reach our limited goal to fund a new pediatric cancer research center at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.