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Updated Jul 12, 2023

Want to Support a Charity? Qualities Businesses Should Seek Out

Here are the criteria business leaders can use when choosing which charities to support.

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Sean Peek, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership
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Has your business thought about giving back to the community? Donating time, money and resources to a worthy cause is an inspiring way to make a difference, but getting started can be overwhelming. The best approach is to thoroughly research your options so you can make the right choice for your business. 

The charity you select should not only align with your company values but also be a good fit for your customers, employees and the community you serve. Check out these tips for choosing the best charity to support.  

How to pick a charity your business should support

To select a charity that’s a good fit for your company, it may help to break down the process into a few manageable steps. 

1. Research charities. 

Engaging with charitable organizations is not only an altruistic endeavor; it’s a mutually beneficial opportunity to build a brand community. There are 1.3 million charitable nonprofit organizations in the U.S., according to the National Council of Nonprofits, so you have plenty of options. Think about the causes you’re most passionate about and which issues matter most to your customers or clients. What type of organization would they rally behind?

Identify causes that relate to your company’s products or services and charities that are actively working to enact change in those areas. Is there a specific resource you can contribute? For example, an office supplies vendor could partner with a charity that works with schools to donate school supplies. 

TipBottom line
Check out Global Giving to explore charitable causes around the world and the National Council of Nonprofits for information on nonprofits in the U.S.

2. Meet with potential partners.

Relationship building is essential to creating a meaningful impact. Active engagement beyond writing a check opens the door for more creative opportunities, such as providing services, hosting events and launching charitable marketing promotions

Invite your employees to join the search by sending out surveys and forming committees. Gather a variety of perspectives in the same way you would seek feedback on job candidates. Ask potential charity partners about their goals and future plans, but also dig into what they have accomplished so far. Aim to develop a clear understanding of their initiatives and organizational structure. 

3. Choose your charity partner.

Check out each charity’s brand, online presence and annual reports to get a sense of the organization’s contributions and what resonates with you. Try using GuideStar and Give.org for selecting a charity to support. These sites will give you insight into each organization’s spending and resource allocation. 

Additionally, pay attention to financial details. Tax breaks should not be the main draw when you’re selecting a charity, but your company should understand the financial parameters of your donations. 

Qualities to look for in a charity partner 

There are many factors to consider when you’re looking for the best charity partner for your organization. When you’re evaluating candidates, keep these qualities in mind:

Transparency

Transparency is a valuable quality for any company that’s looking to increase trust and loyalty. Look for organizations that share how they use their resources, provide insight into their budget-planning process and publicize the results of their efforts. 

Find an organization that regularly communicates progress updates and new initiatives. Some nonprofits increase transparency by sending newsletters that highlight news, achievements and status reports. Another common practice is to share profiles of the charity’s team, comments from the community it serves and donor quotes to bring its work to life.

Clear mission

The charity you choose should have a focused, clear mission. Carefully research any affiliations the organization has and stances it has taken on major issues to gain an in-depth understanding of the charity you’re planning to support. If the organization is transparent, it should be easy to find its mission statement and see how its major goals and objectives fulfill that vision. This step will help you determine if the organization’s values align with your company’s and inform how you’ll communicate your charity selection to your staff. 

Informative website

A strong online presence not only projects a savvy, well-run company but also increases the charity’s legitimacy and transparency. An informative website will keep you up to date on the latest projects, milestones and opportunities for giving. If the charity you choose hosts events in your area, needs volunteers or is fundraising for a specific initiative, a high-quality website will keep you tuned in and help make the most of your relationship. Some organizations have extremely informative websites with engaging content such as videos, stories, images and educational resources. You can use these materials and resources to help staff and customers learn more about the charity your company supports. 

TipBottom line
Save a list of the top contenders, and consider offering donations to those charities as an option for company gifts during the holidays.

Community engagement

Check out the charity’s social media presence and involvement on online platforms to see how the organization engages with its community. Some organizations use their platforms to educate the public on issues at the heart of their work and connect donors with donation recipients. Fundraising and awareness campaigns on social media, podcast marketing and brand partnerships are a few ways nonprofits engage with their communities and build their brands.

Customer loyalty increases when companies take concrete steps to make a difference in the world. Through your relationship with a charity, you can boost positive feelings toward your company while leveraging your customer base to increase contributions. 

Legitimacy

When it’s time to make your donations, proceed with caution. Confirm the correct process with a contact at the charity. Don’t be too hasty to make payments online without ensuring you are on the organization’s official website and are donating directly to the charity. 

Websites such as Charity Navigator rate organizations on accountability, finance and trustworthiness to help you make an informed decision. The IRS also has a tool to help you search the agency’s nonprofit database and view each organization’s tax documents. This comprehensive research and fact-checking will prevent you from making a well-meaning donation to a suspicious organization. 

Shared purpose

You, your employees, your customers and the charity are united by your shared desire to make the world a better place. Philanthropy makes employees proud and improves their view of the company. The organization you support should feel like an authentic choice that resonates with your company values, culture and goals. Picking a cause that most employees and customers are passionate about will provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment. A strong match conveys that your decision was well thought out, heavily researched and fueled by a desire to do good.  

Credibility and integrity

When making a financial commitment and publicly declaring your support for an organization, you need assurance that your donation will make an impact and is utilized properly, especially if you plan to create opportunities for your customers to donate to this charity. People will lose trust if you invest in questionable organizations and encourage them to do the same. 

Check various platforms, including social media, for comments about the charity, as well as press coverage and other media for potential red flags. If applicable, consider volunteering with the organization before donating. You will gain more tangible experience, see the charity in action and hopefully be inspired to get involved. 

Sufficient resources

Donate to a stable organization with enough staffing and resources to reach its goals through your contributions. Does the charity have the leadership and structure in place to follow through and enact change? In your research, look for signs that the organization is a well-oiled machine that continues to grow. 

Scott Gerber contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.

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Sean Peek, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership
Sean Peek co-founded and self-funded a small business that's grown to include more than a dozen dedicated team members. Over the years, he's become adept at navigating the intricacies of bootstrapping a new business, overseeing day-to-day operations, utilizing process automation to increase efficiencies and cut costs, and leading a small workforce. This journey has afforded him a profound understanding of the B2B landscape and the critical challenges business owners face as they start and grow their enterprises today. In addition to running his own business, Peek shares his firsthand experiences and vast knowledge to support fellow entrepreneurs, offering guidance on everything from business software to marketing strategies to HR management. In fact, his expertise has been featured in Entrepreneur, Inc. and Forbes and with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
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