Maximize Your Giving with an Annual Charitable Strategy
~ Blog Post by Cathy Goddard of Lighthouse Visionary Strategies, January 2019
The holiday season inspires people to focus on kindness but that glow often dims as we round the corner to a new year. But what if ‘giving back’ was a priority for the entire twelve months?H
From either a business or personal perspective, having an annual charitable plan can ensure your philanthropy has more impact. Whether as a way to unite a team, offer community support or showcase company values, here are ways to extend your altruism.
Craft a Charitable Plan
Charitable organizations ramp up fundraising efforts during the holiday season for a reason – it works to pull at heartstrings this time of year. CanadaHelps, a national online fundraising platform receives 36% of annual charitable donations in December, and over 5% on December 31st alone. Obviously, the lure to jump on the charitable bandwagon is powerful but a year-round plan provides an opportunity to reflect on what means most to you and your business.
To that end, the first step is to select causes that resonate. This could be directly tied to your industry. For example, a veterinarian may choose to donate to the local animal shelter. However, it is perfectly acceptable to choose the Canadian Cancer Society if you have lost a loved one to this disease.
Secondly, set an annual budget for charitable donations and stick to it. Don’t forget to add an amount for ‘miscellaneous’ causes to support friends and family that might be raising money for a good cause that comes your way unexpectedly. It can be tough to say no but if you have a dollar amount for ‘reactive giving’, it’s okay to decline.
Lastly, set a donation schedule that corresponds with your profits. If the first quarter of every year is a more profitable time, donate more at that time. A bonus with that strategy is feeding charity’s much-needed dollars when the seasonal donors wane.
Get Those Charitable Tax Benefits
People apparently leave a lot of charitable tax credits sitting on the table. In fact, Statistics Canada shows that Canadians taking advantage of charitable tax credits plummeted from 29.5 to 21.95 per cent from 1990 to 2013, and less than six million people claim the federal Charitable Donation Tax Credit each year despite the fact that about 24 million of us (about 85% of Canadians) make an annual financial donation to charity.
When you make a charitable donation in Canada you get both federal and provincial tax credits, with combined incentives of up to 53 per cent available. On the federal level, you’ll receive a 15 per cent non-refundable tax credit for the first $200 you donate then 29 per cent for all donations beyond the $200 threshold. On top of that, each province offers its own tax incentives that vary depending on where you live. To calculate your own charitable tax credit, use this CanadaHelps tax calculator.
Charity Isn’t Always Financial
Of course, volunteerism is a way to shine kindness too. According to a Government of Canada survey, “almost 12.5 million Canadians, the equivalent of 46% of the population aged 15 and over, volunteered for charitable and nonprofit organizations in 2007.” That is an amazing contribution of over 2.1 billion volunteer hours collectively.
The benefits of volunteering are undeniable. Everything from increased understanding of community needs to developing skills and knowledge to elevated self-worth are deemed as reasons to be involved. But with huge demands on personal and professional lives, people increasingly report an inability to make commitments of time away from their family and friends. Adding volunteer work on top of those time constraints is sometimes not a possibility so getting creative may be the answer. If it’s meaningful enough, you can make time for it. Read here for some powerful motivation on managing your time by managing your calendar!
Share Your Knowledge
As Winston Churchill said,
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
The opportunity is to support those around you by sharing your knowledge and there is no better way to do that than through mentorship. Working one-on-one with an emerging entrepreneur has proven to move them more quickly to successful results. And while a ‘Women in Leadership Foundation’ study recently claimed that 87% of Canadians believe mentoring is important, only 19% have a mentor.
Knowing where to start can be tricky but mentorship is a hot trend right now and there are many organizations that can connect you with those that can benefit the most.
Offering pro bono services to a charitable organization is another way to share your knowledge. A mere 2.7% of total charitable revenue goes to not-for-profits that are considered small organizations. That means budgets are stretched thin to acquire professional services vital to their success. Whether bookkeeping services or human resources knowledge, providing expertise is a substantial way to support them in reaching their mandate.
Strength in Numbers
If you have staff, why not join forces for community causes? Present some not-for-profits with unique causes to your team and build consensus on where they’d like to donate their efforts. There are endless ways to offer energy to local charities: event support, sorting food for the food bank or helping a housebound individual. And of course, you can choose a charity of choice to be the recipient of team fundraising efforts.
Helen Keller once said,
“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”
TELL ME: How do you ‘give back’ and does that happen all year?
At Lighthouse Visionary Strategies, Cathy Goddard offers business and life coaching, workshops and is the founder of Lighthouse Mentor Network, a mentor program nominated for Small Business BC Awards for several consecutive years. Learn more at www.lighthousevisionary.com