Here’s how you can make charitable giving a regular part of your firm’s business activities.
Being active in the community, whether it be raising funds for local charities or assisting community based organisations is a trademark of most successful small businesses. That’s why more and more businesses are finding ways to give back to their communities by raising funds, awareness and vital support for local charities and organisations.
What’s more, charitable giving doesn’t just help those in need – it can provide a range of business benefits as well.
According to Darren Glover, a director of Newcastle-based accounting and advice firm Evolution Advisers, providing community support is a great way to make your brand more visible, raise staff morale and even attract potential new clients.
Here are Darren’s 5 steps for getting started.
Step 1. Choose the right charity
Creating a successful charitable giving program for your firm can take a lot of time, energy and resources. That’s why Darren recommends starting off by researching organisations you may want to get involved with.
“We look for causes that align with our business and that our team members can relate to,” he explained. “If there’s something we can do beyond just donating money, that’s more attractive to us because we get a personal benefit out of helping.”
For several years, the practice has sponsored a one-day surfing event called the Evolution Charity Cup, as part of Newcastle’s annual Surfest competition. Up to 20 teams of surfers, each representing a local business, compete in the event to raise funds for a non-profit organisation of Evolution’s choosing.
“So far we’ve raised over $140,000 for SurfAid, which helps Indonesian families in need,” Darren said. “With this year’s event, we’ve decided to raise money for the Mark Hughes Foundation to support brain cancer research.”
Step 2. Organise a fun event
Hosting a fundraising event is an opportunity to make new connections and maximise exposure for your business – all while doing a good deed. But careful planning is essential for making sure your event is a success.
“The Evolution Charity Cup is about having an enjoyable day at the beach, while raising money for a good cause at the same time,” said Darren. “Each year our team puts on a barbecue, as well as making sure the event runs smoothly.”
In the lead-up to the event, it’s worth ramping up your promotional activities – so you can motivate staff, participants and the general public to increase their fundraising efforts.
“We offer incentives for teams to raise as much as they can,” Darren said. “For instance, we get a world champion surfer to come for the day and surf with the team that raises the most money.”
Step 3. Engage clients and local businesses
As part of their promotional strategy, Evolution Advisers make sure their clients are aware of the Evolution Charity Cup and the firm’s other community activities. This shines a positive light not only the charities they support, but on the firm itself.
Darren commented: “We promote our fundraising events in our client newsletters, and we also put information on our website about the charitable work we do.”
But for Darren, another key benefit of charitable work is the opportunity to connect with other businesses in the area. This also paves the way for promoting his firm’s business advisory services.
“We engage with 20 businesses around town, and they go out to their circles of clients and friends to support the cause,” he said. “It means we can do a bit of networking – and we’ve also picked up some new business clients as a result.”
Step 4. Support staff giving
In addition to their annual surfing tournament, Evolution Advisers actively supports its team members who want to help out a specific charity they’re passionate about.
“One of our team members is on a board that looks after victims of abuse, and another has a connection to the John Hunter Hospital,” said Darren. “It means a lot to our staff to be able to raise funds for organisations that are important to them.”
The practice also encourages staff giving – whether it’s putting together Christmas hampers to donate to the Salvation Army or volunteering their time.
“We like to get our team members out in the community for a day or two each year, so they can volunteer with a charity that needs some assistance,” Darren said.
Step 5. Put yourself out there
At the heart of Evolution’s approach to charitable giving is the belief that it should be about more than simply offering money; it’s also a way to engage with and shape their community.
“As well as injecting funds into the charities, we also want to find roles for our team members to play on an ongoing basis with these organisations,” Darren said. “Our team members feel good about being able to make a difference to the community, while also gaining experience in a new area.”
Recently, Evolution Advisers have also made a generous donation to the University of Newcastle’s Faculty of Business and Law, to help fund new interactive teaching tools for Finance students. In return, the team will participate in training activities and have the chance to meet high-performing graduates.
As Darren said, “It’s a win-win situation for everyone – it gives us a pool to draw from the next time we’re hiring, and it positions Evolution Advisers as an employer of choice as well.”