It’s become fashionable to have a cause and to let people know that when they buy with you some of that money is going towards your pet cause. This just doesn’t sit right with me. If the contribution is coming from your profits, that’s your business. Everyone should, and the vast majority do, give part of their bottom line. If it’s part of the cost of the product or service, I would prefer the regular price and the option of choosing my own program of giving, thank you very much.
As an adviser to small business owners, I tell you to be strategic in your charitable giving. By that I mean you should choose which charities to give to, make a contribution and get the tax receipt. We get asked to donate on a regular basis. We either give a little each time and that doesn’t accomplish much or we feel overwhelmed and say no – with attendant guilt. I suggest that we take a bit of time and make a conscious effort to choose how much and to whom we will give. You can even be proactive and prepare a handful of gifts to give when the local group comes calling looking for giveaways. Make them valuable, easy for you to give and relevant to your business. This isn’t about being mercenary; it’s about being conscious.
There’s another way.
My friend Chris Taylor has created a wonderful CD of interviews with amazing thought leaders. It’s a great CD and well worth the $25 price tag. Chris has chosen to give all but the direct costs to the charity Room to Read.
My friend Lisa Drader Murphy has held a charity fashion show every year for 10 years with all proceeds over direct costs going to her foundation. Every year her foundation chooses a couple of local women’s charities. She has given 10’s of thousands.
My friend Ravi Tangri pulled together the speaking community in Halifax and created a great event “Speak out for Haiti”.
The difference is these are projects are separate from the regular running of the business. No one could afford to give away all but their direct costs – their business would fold more quickly than you can say here’s the rent cheque. As a separate project, they can.
A little bit about direct costs. Direct costs are those that go into the production of the particular project. They might be buying the cd’s, pressing/printing costs or room rental, sound equipment rental, advertising. They do not include overhead for the business. The goal is often to get these services donated in whole or in part, but there will always be some hard costs that must be paid.
These projects are brilliant because they are wins all around. They are great for publicity and community building among customers and potential customers. They showcase what the business does. As charity events, they bring together people willing to donate services so they have incredible value for the price. They support charities.
What other examples do you know of? What could you do? Will you give some thought to your donations for next year?