Staying Charitable : A Guide to Corporate Philanthropy

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While all of us are pursuing our own paths to success through our careers, it can be easy to forget that some times it’s not all about profit and revenue and just how amazing our next vacation to the Maldives is going to be based on our Christmas bonuses. As responsible citizens both in and out of the office, you need to give back. Charitable causes are beneficial for both companies and their chosen organizations. No matter how big or small a business, it’s never too late to initiate corporate philanthropy.
 
We can look to State Farm Insurance’s CEO Edward B. Rust Jr. for a simple yet effective quote to inspire us: “CEOs are at their best when they inspire people around them.” Inspiring a few to help the less fortunate masses is as good a cause there is.
 
Obviously CEOs of huge corporations such as State Farm have the means to hire third party committees to create charitable initiatives, but what options do small businesses have?
 
The short answer? Plenty. From fitness to more whimsical ideas, there’s a plethora of ways your company can raise funds and awareness.
 
Marathon/Run
 
A great example of a run is CIBC’s now famous “Run for a Cure”. The event occurs across Canada and garners thousands of participants, as well as publicity and awareness for breast cancer research. Incorporating fitness into the charitable event makes it even more worthwhile for participants to join!
 
Creating employee teams in order to train for the big day encourages consensus building skills within the company. A friendly competition between teams pushes everyone to get into shape.
 
Generally, sponsors either donate per distance run (for example, $50 for every kilometer accomplished) or a flat fee, or they even sponsor an entire team if they’re bigger fish.
 
Overall, the marathon/run is the most popular corporate fundraiser for a reason! Big training, big run, big payoff. This idea can also be parlayed into less physically demanding sports, such as company-wide golf tournaments, tennis matches and baseball teams.
 
Gala/Party
 
Those who do not exercise, party. There’s nothing quite like a good old fashioned par-tay to raise funds for a cause….after all people tend to be more generous while intoxicated!
 
All kidding aside, while day-to-day initiatives for charity are perhaps easier to manage and maintain, the payoffs of a well-organized party for a cause can be monumental. Small businesses may not be large enough to base attendance solely on employees, but instead this being a problem, see it as an opportunity to not only raise awareness for a cause, but for your company as well.
 

Using your client network to create the invite list is key, and slick promotion of the event highlighting the charitable cause, as well as other initiatives, will ensure the party goes off without a hitch. The cons of a high-profile event are the costs necessary to create a spectacular party that could be donated directly to the charity.

 
However, the benefits come from the bigger picture. Successful galas often become annual events (such as Philadelphia’s well-known Halloween bash for Breast Cancer “Take the Fright out of Breast Cancer”), and the recognition they create ensures that your entire roster of clients is in connection with the cause.
 
A black tie open-bar gala is not necessary, either. Just a hip venue (resto-lounges such as Earl’s and Joey’s are fast becoming ideal locations for corporate social events), great food and drinks and enough hype and marketing to spread the words faster than you can say “Ticket, please!”.
 
Day-to-Day
 

Smaller day-to-day operations carried out by your company can also benefit the charity of your choice. Implementing smart programs that build over time can be a subtle, yet effective way to keep the spotlight on giving not just one day for an event, but everyday. On a basic level, you can have certain products or services advertised as “for a cause” and have the designated organization financially benefit whenever a sale is made. This allows for exposure of the company on the charity’s end as well as they would advertise the products. Other programs can include more whimsical office ideas such as office raffles, bake sales, and similar operations that are smaller in scale and proceeds, but much easier to organize and thus can occur frequently.

 
Corporate responsibility to give back to charitable organizations is an important one and through either sporting events, social events or daily initiatives, even small businesses can jump aboard the philanthropy wagon! Awareness for causes attracts awareness for companies in general and smart fundraising is an asset both business-wise and socially. A little imagination, social savvy, and of course a spirit of giving is all it takes to create a corporate conscience!
 

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