Mixing Charity with Business – With Care

Mixing Charity with Business – With Care

Have you ever hired someone because you wanted to give them a break? And when you did, did you also hold them responsible to produce the result that you hired them for?

If you are like me, and like many of the clients I’ve worked with over the past three decades, you may have made the mistake at one time or another, of hiring someone because you wanted to give them a helping hand – not because they were suited for the job. That is an example of how mixing charity with business can have unintended consequences.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be a charitable business owner. That’s entirely up to you. Just keep these points in mind so you don’t lose sight of the true purpose of your business…

FIRST, SOME DEFINITIONS

The Purpose of a Business is to create customers and generate a profit. Businesses create wealth by providing benefits to their clients that have a higher value to them than the money they spend to acquire those products and services.

The Purpose of a Charity is to provide services to those in need through charitable donations of time and money. Charities exist to spend money on those services and depend on the profits and incomes of others to finance those expenditures.

HOW TO BE CHARITABLE WITHOUT RISKING LOSSES IN YOUR BUSINESS

Budget for it. Decide which charities, if any, you will support this year, and what your maximum budget for donations will be.

Build in charitable giving as part of your marketing strategy. Attending charitable events, providing draw prizes or silent auction items, and hosting a table at an event are all ways that you can participate as a business. Ask your accountant what portion of this donation can be written off as a marketing expense. The tax break as an expense may be greater than as a donation.

Enter into team fundraising events. Employees will often volunteer to be part of a fund-raising event such as sky-diving or rappelling down the side of a building, or even organizing car washes or other fun events. Remember to budget for any wages or entry fees involved.

Matching funds. Fund-raising events can raise a whole lot more money when matching funds are offered by a handful of contributors, whether it’s matching employee donations or matching donations from the general public. Just remember to put a cap on the amount you’ve budgeted for the purpose.

Bottom line. The business makes the profit, without which, the means of providing charity do not exist. Be charitable if you wish. But make sure the horse is always in front of the cart and not the other way around.

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