Corporate social responsibility is a growing trend in business today. Businesses recognize what their communities have done for them and want to give something back. But there is a delicate balance between deciding what will be cost effective, what creates a positive impact on public relations, and, most importantly, what will help the community.
We recently ran an article about Osborne Wood Products, Inc. (Osborne Wood Products Donates CNC Router Table to NGTC) that offers a good example of what can be done in a low cost way with lots of bang for the buck. They had replaced their large, old CNC Router with a more space-efficient model, but in doing so created a problem for themselves. They now had a large unused machine taking up room in their warehouse taking up space and hindering operations. The solution? They donated the machine to the North Georgia Technical College. Osborne’s problem was solved and the college gained a valuable resource they might not have been able to afford otherwise.
For the last three years, Rev-A-Shelf has partnered with Homes for Our Troops building specially adapted, mortgage-free homes for severely injured post 9/11 troops so they can rebuild their lives. Rev-A-Shelf provides the homes with cabinet storage and organization accessories so that the veterans have optimal accessibility.
At the 2014 IWF show in Atlanta, Tiger Stop was demonstrating a new machine and going through a lot of lumber in the process. Instead of tossing all that cut wood in the dumpster Tiger Stop teamed with James L. Taylor Manufacturing, Unique Machine and Tool Co., and Stiles Machinery, Inc. to use the lumber to manufacture cabinet doors as part of their show demonstrations. Those doors were then donated to Habitat for Humanity.
The toughest part of donating is deciding which charity to support. Use websites like GreatNonprofits.org and GiveWell.org to narrow down possibilities. Then do face-to-face interviews and an overview meeting. Research is critical. You wouldn’t buy a car sight unseen, the same is true of charities with which you might want to form a partnership.
Ask what the charity is doing to meet its goals. Ask for data that shows their progress. It will tell you how serious they are and how they react to what the data is telling them. Keep in mind, however, that data can be deceiving. An organization might not appear that effective, but some problems are more difficult to solve than others. Organizations working on those kinds of problems could use your support as well.
Next is deciding how much to give. You can give whatever you want, but if a tax deduction is also part of your plans you need to familiarize yourself with the tax laws. How much you can donate to a given organization depends on their IRS category.
Keep detailed records of your donations. Bank records and canceled checks are a must. If you donate over $250, the IRS requires a written record from the charity noting the amount, date and whether any goods or services were given in exchange for the donation.
Business support for charities becomes more important every day. There are many different types of organizations that can use your businesses help. Pick the one that’s a good fit and do good things together.