Featured Whistler Question Column ~ January 12, 2016: BUILD YOUR YEAR-ROUND CHARITABLE PLAN
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?
Although businesses have primarily replaced sending Christmas cards with donating to charities, perhaps an annual philanthropic plan could have 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
Worthwhile causes ramp up fundraising efforts during the holiday season for a reason. 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. 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.
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.
Share Your Knowledge
Sharing your expertise through mentorship is a powerful way to lend a hand…. and a brain.
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.
A group environment offers up peer mentorship for mutual benefits. Sharing your knowledge with others is gratifying and the group scenario can present a support network for your advancement.
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.”
NOW I’D LOVE TO KNOW: How do you ‘give back’ and does that happen all year?
At Lighthouse Visionary Strategies, Cathy Goddard offers business and life coaching, workshops and the popular Open Forum speaker series. She is founder of Lighthouse Mentor Network, a mentor program nominated for Small Business BC Awards in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. She writes this column for the Whistler Question newspaper.