How Small Biz Can Benefit from Philanthropy, Too

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Josh Keppel

Large corporations spend fortunes on advertising that calls attention to their charitable giving. But smaller businesses don't have huge Citibank-sized advertising budgets to get good deeds noticed. Can you still do it – and gain from it? Sure. 

A small business can still reap the benefits, the emotional kind and the selfish promoting kind, from donating time and service.
If considering it, answer these questions before developing a philanthropic plan:
1. Is there a cause related to your business? 
Sometimes there's a natural link between a business and a charity. A builder or contractor, for instance, could make a donation to Habitat for Humanity. A car dealership might contribute to a local school's driver's education program. 
2. Is there a cause connected to your customers? 
You may benefit by keeping the giving within the realm of business. If your business is related to the outdoors, a donation to nature-focused charities may resound with customers.
3. Do you donate your money, your time, or your product? 
Money isn't the only thing - time, expertise and property are also worthy contributions. For example, a small tech company could donate equipment or instruction to local schools, libraries, or senior centers.
4. Do your employees want to get involved? 
Offer your employees the opportunity to get involved with company charity work. It can benefit your company culture too. Better still, find out with what causes your employees are involved and look into supporting these organizations.
5. How do you get noticed? 
Some philanthropists prefer anonymity, but it's reasonable (and not selfish) for small businesses to expect some recognition. Donations of trees, benches, etc.  are often recognized with plaques. Donations to auctions or sponsorships of local events are often noted in event programs.
Do your part to get noticed – use social media like Twitter and Facebook, e-newsletters, even press releases to get the word out about your efforts. 
After a prolonged weak economic climate and months of natural disasters, it’s human nature to enjoy reading about good deeds. And likely you will get something out of it, too.
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