When things are going well for us we tend to stop and think about how fortunate we are and reflect on the many ways people have helped us along the way. During these moments most people feel the need to give back, in some way, as a means of “paying it forward”. Altruism in business is no different.
For entrepreneurs, this tends to manifest in a desire to donate to your favorite charity or sponsor a charitable event on behalf of your business. While charity is all about selfless giving, let's be honest, associating your business with charities can also be good for business.
Here are 5 ways that altruism can benefit humanity and your business:
1 | Altruism in Business Creates Networking Opportunities
It's no secret that networking is a vital part of business, but it can be difficult to start building meaningful relationships at networking events. Networking can be an awkward experience for some people. If you have been to a networking event then you know how it goes.
A stranger approaches you and starts making small talk about things you don’t care about, like the change in weather or the latest sporting event. You may engage in conversation, but it typically doesn’t lead to anything more than an exchange of business cards.
Networking with other businesses who participate in the same charities as you creates a more organic and genuine experience while also helping others. The more involved you are, the more your chances increase that you can spark a conversation that doesn’t scream “I just want something from you”! Try getting involved with the organizing and planning of the event. If you meet an interesting contact while doing so the interaction does not come off as forced. This also ensures that you will always have a common interest to talk about in the future. Whether your goal is to make a new client or business partner, networking at charity functions can be a great way to build relationships.
2 | Improves Employee Morale
Unfortunately, there are still many businesses who overlook the importance of the well-being of their employees.
The way an employee feels about their workplace has a great effect on their individual performance and attitude while on the clock. If employee morale is low it can result in a lack of engagement, lack of productivity, lower retention rate, and unsatisfactory interactions with clients. As an employer, it is crucial for your employees to have pride in their company, and getting involved in charity events are a great way to do so.
When you decide to give to charity do it in a way that gives your employees the opportunity to participate. Not only do they see that the company cares about giving back but it also makes them feel good about themselves. Participating in something positive intrinsically connects that positive feeling to the company. I myself have had this happen to me.
I once worked for a sales company, and needless to say, it was not my favorite job. I felt that the company was only focused on profits and was not concerned about its employees as individuals. It seemed that they were only concerned about how much money we could bring in.
However, my views began to change once the owner signed the office up for a charity basketball tournament. After getting involved with the charity event and building better relationships with the owners I had a much better outlook on my job and was more productive at work as a whole. A little good will can go a long way. Getting your employees involved in charities also benefits your company by creating a better image of the company for your employees. Employees who can take pride in the actions of their company are happier to work for you and it will reflect in their performance.
3 | Builds Relationships Within Your Community
Businesses have the resources and reach necessary to make lasting impressions on the communities around them.
Donating to your community makes it a better place to live and work for residents, employees, and the company. In some cases, the effects of community charity may change the lives of people so much that there is no way to measure the effects. Opening door for the less fortunate is a very rewarding experience that reflects positively on your business.
Take the aircraft manufacturing company Boeing for example. For years they have strived to change communities around the world through acts of charity. In fact, back in 2014 Boeing and the nonprofit Engineers Without Borders USA worked together to implement deep-rooted engineering solutions that solve critical community problems. With the help of community members, Boeing and EWB-USA successfully constructed the first solar-heated shower structure in an Andean community called Marquirivi. Together they effectively changing the sanitation needs of that community forever.
Whether it’s global or local, acts of philanthropy like these get noticed. People respect companies that take the initiative to affect change and are more likely to patron your business.
4 | Doubles as Marketing Positive Brand Image
Sponsoring a charity event is an opportunity to give back and spread your brand simultaneously. The more related your business is to the cause of the charity the better.
For example, if you are a company who sells sports bras, sponsoring and participating in a breast cancer walk would be a great marketing opportunity. Strategic acts of charity ensure that your brand will be noticed by your target market. Not only do you contribute to a worthy cause, but you also spread positive brand awareness among people who need your product.
Whenever your company has the chance to generate positivity around the brand, take it! Consumers are far more receptive to companies that have a soul. When consumers see your company has a good cause behind it, they become emotionally invested. Especially if it is a cause that they care about themselves. In fact, consumers have the perception that socially conscious companies have products that are better quality than other competitors. Taking the time to find charities that complement your brand or product leaves a lasting impression on consumers.
5 | Tax Breaks
As we have seen there are many reasons for a business to give to charity, other than the general desire to help one’s fellow man. However, one of the most alluring benefits of donating to charity are the tax breaks.
According to the IRS, a business is able to obtain a tax break as long as they have documented evidence of a charitable donation made to qualified charitable organizations. Churches, nonprofit organizations, a foundation or trust fund operated for charitable, religious, educational, scientific, or literary purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals are all examples of qualified charitable organizations.
While charitable contributions are tax deductible it is important to know what kinds of donations can and cannot be deducted. Monetary contributions are tax-deductible they just can’t be set aside for a specific person. Property donations are also considered valid tax deductions. These deductions are calculated based on the fair market value of the property. While physical donations and cash donations are considered deductible services are not. If you volunteer for charity there are no conventional ways to quantify the value of your service. Although you can not get a deductible on your service, you can get a deduction for any expenses you have that are associated with the service. For example, if you host a benefit party everything that you spent to through the party is considered deductible.
As a business, tax deductibles are great! You actually get rewarded by the government for spreading good in your communities. With these kinds of incentives, there is no reason why any business would not practice good philanthropy.