Donations: How Does A Business Decide?

Donations are a very personal topic, aren’t they? After all, with the economy so challenged these days, so many charities, non-profits, and social-organizations are soliciting help, it seems constantly. Obviously, a business can’t give to every request out there.

HullNantasketChamberLogoA member of the Hull Nantasket Chamber of Commerce asked, [I am quoting the HNCC post on Facebook], The question was posed, “How does your business handle requests for donations and contributions? What makes you decide to support an organization or a cause? Do you see any way that local organizations that fundraise could consolidate their efforts so that local businesses can help but not constantly be asked by multiple entities? How do you say ‘no’ when you say [mean] ‘no’? Do you have a company or business policy concerning charitable donations?” These are all excellent questions, so here are my thoughts on this subject matter. As someone who has worked on the other side of non-profits, the place or cause needing the money and as a current business owner, I think I can some a good and objective thoughts here. First, decide what is nearest and dearest to your heart. Try to differentiate your personal donations from the company donations.

Next, personal donations can go for extended causes. However, business donations should focus locally (for local businesses) such as restaurants, etc. It depends what your business is too. If you are a boutique, you may focus on human rights or stopping human trafficking. If you are a surf shop, you may want to focus on saving the environment. If you are a restaurant, maybe feeding the homeless. I can’t say for certain, because you know your business and you know the causes that can taint its reputation.

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It’s like that story about the boy trying to save all the starfish that washed up from the sea. Thousands were streaming the beach. One by one, he picked them up and started throwing them back into the ocean. A man came by and advised the boy that he would not be able to save all the starfish. The responded, “I can save this one.”

Last, the bottom line is (pardon the pun) you can’t give to everything. We have a focus on a specific cause and there is only so much money we can donate. But donations come in different shapes and sizes too. Maybe donate product, a service, employee volunteer hours, or offer to promote their cause on your social media page or in one of your brochures. All of us should be making a difference somewhere for something.

I like what one business did. I heard this story about a small convenient store in Boston. They always had kids loitering. So they focused their donations on the local community center that focused on getting the kids off the streets. This way, the store owner still kept a good face in the community, showing they were “concerned” about the problem. The truth was they were very “inconvenienced.”

Maybe you have some thoughts on this subject that you would like to share with us? Feel free to leave comments below.

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photo credit: Hull Nantasket Chamber of Commerce via www.hullchamber.com
photo credit: Schristia via photopin cc

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