With all of the exciting new developments in the startup world – from disruptive technologies to apps that make your life easier, to the world of raising money – an often overlooked topic is startups and companies giving to charity – the social responsibility that successful startups have to giving back to the community.

Regardless of cultural background, political beliefs or demographics, giving back to the right charitable organizations is something we can all agree benefits society. On an individual level, the choice one makes to whom and how much they personally give helps to develop a sense of pride and even obligation toward giving back. On a corporate level this is amplified – giving back on a greater scale can create benefits that as a whole are greater than the sum of its parts.

Startups and growing business can enjoy a myriad of benefits by giving to charity – from a wide range of employee productivity benefits, to tax advantages and improved brand image. Giving to charities that are in line with a company’s ethos also provides another impetus for success – when your company does well, so do causes that you believe in.

Giving as a Company Can Keep Employees Happy

A boost in employee morale and productivity can be reason alone to consider charitable giving as a company. For instance, it allows employees to feel like they are working for something other than their own salaries and profits of the company. A strategy that can give employees a greater sense of involvement in causes that interest them can be to allow them to select a charity of their choice. One way to garner appreciation from employees could even be to offer a matching program, whereby your company will match any amount they choose to give to a charity of their choosing, up to a certain dollar amount. It doesn’t have to be much, and your employees may give more back in productivity as a result. Corporate giving can also give you an edge when recruiting talent, as it can serve to legitimize the organization.

A company can also use charitable giving to improve teamwork amongst employees. Hosting charity events, scheduling a company field trip for a charitable purpose, planning activities centered around donations to a cause – all of these are great ways to build teamwork amongst employees, particularly because it brings everyone together in a setting outside of the work environment. Some employees go years seeing their colleagues only in a work setting!

Other Ways to Give

An alternative to monetary giving is to allow employees to donate a few hours per month (during company hours) to volunteer their time to nonprofits or other types of organizations that need help but may not necessarily be able to afford the cost of additional labor. This can work particularly well when employees have a particular skill set, such as web developers, lawyers, software engineers etc, that nonprofits could greatly benefit from with just a few hours of work per month. Charities are open to being helped in many different ways – not only monetarily.

Depending on the industry that a company operates in, another good idea is to donate to charities that operate in the same, or a similar industry as your own. If you resell bank loans for a living, maybe there isn’t a specific charity that relates to what you do, however if for example your company makes car parts, or makes cell phone chips, why not contribute to charities that provide affordable cars, or give away phones, respectively?

Giving to Charity Provides Tax Advantages and Enhances Brand Image

OK, now to the selfish reasons for giving to charity as a company – tax benefits and brand image! Giving to charity actually reduces the amount of taxable income that you as a corporation are taxed on. Whether your company contributes $100, $10,000, or $100,000 a year in charitable donations, your taxable income is reduced by the same amount. This essentially means that you’ll be contributing toward causes of your choice instead of giving most of the same dollars to Uncle Sam. Sound like a pretty decent trade off, doesn’t it?

Let’s also not overlook the tremendous benefits it can do for increasing brand recognition, which is another great way to leverage the powers of corporate giving. Becoming the face of a cause, or at least making well known the fact that your company is the proud supporter of a cause, can go a long way toward driving traffic to your product or service. Well-run social media and advertising campaigns that align your company with a specific cause can provide some great opportunities for directing traffic to your website and for tapping into a whole new base of potential customers who are also involved in the same cause. Simply put, charitable giving can in some cases may even lead to higher sales and profits.

Where Can You Give?

As you can see, there are many benefits that a company can enjoy by giving to charity. So now that you’ve decided to give, what are some types of charities that you can give to? If you choose to allow employees select their own, it still may be a good idea to provide a list of different charities for them to choose from.

Even if you operate in a small town, local charities are pretty much everywhere, and offer a great way to get employees (and yourself) excited about giving back in ways that allow you to feel closer to, and even witness the direct impact that your charitable contributions make. Local education and health charities are great, but you can also get creative and support local museums, libraries, community events, blood drives and more.

Given the expansive presence and name recognition that a national or global charity enjoys, a larger charity may be best for enhancing brand image, particularly if your customers come from all over the country or world. Charities such as the Red Cross, UNICEF or Aid for Africa, for example, are recognizable to people all over the globe, and partnering with one of these can automatically make your company seem larger

Research-based charities, environment charities, religious organizations, animal charities, the many types of charities are endless. Regardless of the type or kind of charity you choose to give, the key to any corporate giving campaign is to having a strategic approach behind it. Leveraging corporate altruism to improve brand awareness through effective social media outreach, SEO campaigns and targeted networking can be a great way to reap benefits that your competitors may not be enjoying. What’s more, you don’t have to be a large company giving millions of dollars away each year in order to leverage these benefits and look good to the world. Often, just showing interested in a cause, or a set of causes, and making this interest known through targeted social media, advertising and network campaigns can be a great way to spread awareness about the cause as well as shine light on your brand.

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