If your company supports the community, chances are you hear from multiple charities with a variety of requests. Can you sponsor our event? Are you willing to donate to our cause? Can you provide us with your service?
You might be feeling overwhelmed and that’s okay! The first step to making your giving decisions more efficient is to establish guidelines for the requesting charities to adhere to. Then when you receive a donation request, it’s easy to say yes or no. Check out our Writing Strategic Guidelines Guide to learn how.
Step 1: Determine What to Give and How Much
The first step to establishing strategic guidelines is to determine what you have to give and how much.
It’s a common misconception that charities only need financial support, so don’t fret if you can’t give financially. Take stock of the resources you have. Do you have in-kind donations that a charity could use as a silent auction prize? Can you provide catering services for an event? Do you have employees that are willing to give their time? Make sure to outline exactly what you’re able to offer in your guidelines.
Perhaps you do have the resources to give financially. Determine exactly what your budget is for each set period of time. Will your budget renew monthly? Annually? Every quarter? You can let the requesting charities know in your guidelines that you have a limited budget and you’re unable to give any more once your budget has been allocated.
Step 2: Narrow Your Focus
Step two is all about using the values of your business to determine which charities and what causes would be the most strategic to align with. The goal is to create harmonious partnerships between your business and the charitable sector – this starts with sharing values. State the values of your business in your guidelines so that charities can get to know a bit about you before they request a donation.
Additionally, pick two or three key cause areas to support -ones that strategically align with the purpose of your business, what your stakeholders care about, and your values. Are you a clothing store whose clientele is mainly women? Consider supporting women’s causes in your community. Are you a grocery store or a food retailer? Consider aligning with a local food bank or another charity that focuses on food security and sustainability.
Narrowing your focus to several key causes means that you can create more impact in a couple of select areas that are most relevant to your business and your stakeholders rather than spreading yourself thin over many different causes. Make sure to state the causes that your company is willing to contribute to in your guidelines.
Step 3: State a Realistic Time Frame
Swamped by requests? Going through a big staff turn-over? Need to do additional research on the incoming requests? For whatever reason, it might take you a couple of weeks to get back to the charity. Don’t stress. Outline in your guidelines approximately how long it will take for the charity to hear back from you. Will you respond to all the requests or only those that are successful? Let them know exactly what they can expect from you.