Last year, we released an article about the ins and outs of corporate donations. Here’s a summary of the fundamental points we covered:
- Research thoroughly to find responsible, reliable charity organizations.
- Find a cause that relates to your industry.
- Find a local organization whenever possible.
- Give what you can and don’t worry that it isn’t enough.
This year, we’d like to talk a little further about how to choose the right charities based not only on your industry, but on your personal values and where there is most need.
Evaluate Your Priorities
First things first, you need to decide what issues or causes speak most directly to you and your business. If your business has any particular philanthropic drive already, it is obviously wise to stick to that (i.e. if you run an eco-friendly business, it makes sense to donate to environmental advocates). If, however, your business doesn’t have any particular attachment to specific causes or issues, you might want to research charitable activity among your customers and throughout your industry to see where other companies like yours direct their donations.
Consider International Donations
Local charities are always worth investigating, but be aware that your donation may go a lot further is less developed countries. In areas where clean drinking water, food, or clothing is in short supply, small donations of around $20 can feed several families or clothe a dozen children. Again, donating to non-US causes isn’t necessarily better, it will simply go further in many cases.
Check the News
Obviously, the rule that one should donate to charities relevant to their industry still applies, but if there is immense need in a particular geographical location or among a specific group, it is usually a good idea to devote at least some portion of your donation budget to that cause. An excellent example at the moment is hurricane relief in Texas and Puerto Rico. Numerous people are still without homes and institutions are still without power. Fortunately, there are dozens of charitable organizations funneling resources to hurricane relief and directing them where need is greatest. Recent natural disasters are easy choices if you’re looking to spread your donations across a few different charities and aren’t sure where to delegate funds.
Make Your Donation Directly Whenever Possible
Third-party fundraisers can be extremely helpful to charitable causes. Particularly in the age of the internet and smart phones, fundraisers often use celebrities and creative projects (songs, live performances, art installations, etc.) to create a cultural phenomenon around the charity they support. Unfortunately, these third parties sometimes don’t clearly articulate how much of the money they raise actually goes to the charity. With all this in mind, it is definitely wise to donate directly to the charitable cause of your choice
Again, do your research!
One important fact to consider is that bigger or smaller isn’t necessarily better in terms of charity organizations. Larger organizations often have an extensive reach, but may have to use a lot of their donated funds to pay for day-to-day operations. Smaller organizations, on the other hand, usually distribute the vast majority of their donated funds to their cause, but sometimes don’t operate exactly as they say, since it’s easier to get away with fudging some facts when the organization isn’t bringing in significant funds. To reiterate: always research thoroughly when you’re determining a charity or charities to support. Although smaller organizations can sometimes get away with fraudulent funding attribution, checking two or more sites that evaluate charities like the IRS Exempt Organizations Select Check and more (listed in last year’s article) should enable to you seek out the right cause.
A few suggestions…
In addition to the charities we supported last year, we at Express Trade have included a few more in our annual giving this year:
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center – A world leader in cancer research and patient care since 1884.
Delivering Good – A nonprofit that collects product donations from the apparel, kids/baby, and home goods industries and gives them to children, adults and families struggling with poverty and/or disaster.
CFA’s Educational Foundation – The Commercial Finance Association’s foundation devoted to educating and nurturing exceptional employees and institutions in the commercial finance industry.
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