Why Being Charitable Needs To Be A Part Of Your Business Model
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Altruism and business haven’t always coexisted very well. One wants to give away, while the other wants to keep, so it’s no surprise that they’re odd bedfellows — but times are changing, and the argument for being charitable at a business level has grown to be both moral and practical. No matter what specific field you work in, here’s why it’s about time for you to make charity one of your core priorities:
Social perception is vitally important
The days of businesses being able to operate without any meaningful mainstream oversight are long gone by now, condemned to the annals of history by the rise of social media. If you want to benefit from the immense PR opportunities of Facebook, Twitter and any other thriving platforms, you must also contend with the immediacy (and severity) of the feedback.
For some businesses, this ends up providing more damage than anything else. Whether it’s the way they operate, an inability to communicate effectively, or an issue with their products or services, they can find their reputations completely destroyed by social media backlash.
The central issue is that the line between personal and professional has been completely blurred. A business isn’t some faceless entity when the CEO is active on Twitter — it’s a collection of people, and thus imbued with certain responsibilities. Consequently, consumers get attached to brands because they like them, regardless of their objective business merits.
Now, it can easily be self-aggrandizing to talk about charitable efforts, but it can be easily be done tastefully. Don’t spend time trying to look charitable — just be charitable, and use whatever platforms you have to draw more publicity to the charities you support. That way, your online audience will get to learn about what you care about, showing them that you’re human and worthy of their empathy and support.
It’s great for company morale
The greatest productivity and company momentum doesn’t come from optimal training, great perks and strict oversight: it comes from personal investment and attachment. Employees that have real affection for their companies will work so much harder and more effectively to make them successful.
Being charitable is a great way for a company to earn this kind of affection from its employees, because we all like to feel good about ourselves. We like to think of ourselves as good and moral people, but we’re often required to put aside our moral inclinations to focus on money and practical benefit — so it’s really rewarding when businesses set aside time to forget about the bottom line and be generous for the benefit of others.
And high morale doesn’t just lead to greater efficiency: it also leads to meaningful company loyalty that keeps employees sticking around for years to come, something that means a lot for future prospects (as you’d expect, it isn’t good for business when top workers leave, something that’s increasingly common).
There are so many ways to contribute
If you’d like to simply donate a decent sum to a charity, you can absolutely do that, but that might not work with your budget. Perhaps you just can’t afford it — but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing major you can contribute. Here are some other ways you can be charitable:
- Volunteer your time. Does your business run a social event calendar of some kind? Instead of just going to a bar for some drinks, why not volunteer at a charity? You could also donate any valuable but unused items you have lying around, and learn more about what the charity does so you could better help them in the future.
- Set up a charity store. Using online resources, you can easily set up an ecommerce site, register it for sales tax in your region (or just buy one already registered in your state), and dropship relevant products (no need to maintain any stock). It won’t cost much to keep the store going, and the profits can go to charity.
- Write supportive content. Charities can always benefit from some more publicity, and there’s a good chance that you’re already accustomed to producing promotional content for your own business, so why not write something for a charity? Write about the work it does, and spread the word to all your contacts and social media followers.
These aren’t your only options, of course. You have total freedom to find a way to contribute that gels with your company’s style and requirements, so get creative!
Charity and business make a great combination. If you get the balance right, then everyone comes out ahead. And if you can’t do much, then just do something, because even the smallest contribution is better than nothing. You can always scale up later!
Patrick Foster / Ecommerce Consultant
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