Has your inner voice told you any of these things recently?
- “I’ll give back once I have more money.”
- “I just don’t have room in my schedule to give back right now.”
- “I’d rather wait to give a lot than give a little right now.”
- “How can one person, especially me, really make a difference?”
My inner voice feeds me these limiting beliefs regularly, so you’re not alone.
I’ve always wanted to use my online business platform as a way to give back. Heck, generosity is even one of my core values. But after my first year in business, I realized I needed to take more action if I wanted to truly give back. A few donations here and there wasn’t cutting it for me. I wanted to do something bigger, something more impactful.
This year, I’ve done just that and the results have been incredible. I feel more connected to my business, my community, and my clients than ever.
But giving back doesn’t just happen on its own. Becoming a charitable business is a conscious decision you have to make and consistently pursue.
It’s an easy thing to put off, we can all admit that, but there are even more benefits to giving back than we may think. It’s also extremely contagious.
The benefits of giving back to the community
You know the phrase “to give is better than to receive”? The great thing is that you also benefit by giving back through your online business. It may not be your main motivation for giving back, but it is a nice plus. Here’s how…
Tax incentives for being a charitable business
Did you know giving back could help you during tax time? Really! Business expenses aren’t the only thing you can write off. You can also claim tax-deductible donations on your yearly taxes.
Before you donate, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Research: Before you decide which foundations and organizations you want to give back to, make sure you’ve researched whether or not it will be a tax write-off. If it’s not tax-deductible and you still want to give to the cause, go for it! Just know that it won’t be something you can claim on your taxes.
- Keep records: You need to keep record of each donation you give. The IRS needs a neat, tidy paper trail of your charitable donations. If you give online, print off your receipts and file them away. If you give in-person, keep the check receipt on file.
Attracting new clients and customers
I recently announced to my own online community that I would be putting together a local charitable business conference later this year. When I published the news, I received a few quality client inquiries from business owners who loved what I was doing. Each said they were looking for a copywriter and thought we’d be a great fit since giving back was important to them too.
Did I start the 100% charitable business conference as a new way to market my services? Absolutely not– I started the conference because I felt called to affect positive change in my local community. Attracting my ideal clients is just a bonus!
If generosity is also one of your core values, put it into action by sharing your efforts with your audience. You can do this by posting quick updates on social media, explaining the “why” behind your giving back efforts on your blog, or encouraging others to take action through your newsletter.
Always keep the focus on the cause you are donating to rather than it being about your business. When your motives are pure, the right people will be attracted to how you’re helping a bigger cause.
Inspiring other business owners to give back
Giving back creates the most beautiful ripple effect. When one person steps up to make a difference, it inspires others to do the same.
What’s the cause on your heart? Maybe you experienced something as a child or young adult that affected you deeply. Maybe you’re close with someone who has been affected by something you feel passionate about. Maybe the cause directly relates with the work you produce.
In my case, the conference’s cause is supporting sex trafficking survivors in Minneapolis. For you, it may be completely different but equally significant to you.
Whatever it is, share that passion with others. Start conversations with your online audience, your loved ones, and your neighbors. Brainstorm ways you can give back and how others may get involved.
When I announced the charitable business conference, I received multiple emails from bloggers across the ocean who wanted to help. They knew they couldn’t make it to the in-person event with thousands of miles between us, but they had a heart for the cause.
Some bloggers and business owners offered to give back a portion of their course and eBook sales during the event week. Others offered their services to help bring the conference to life.
The big takeaway is you never know who else will be inspired by what you do. Look inward to choose an important cause and don’t be afraid to start small. Your vision will grow as you put it into action.
Guidelines for how to give back to your community
So you know you want to give back, but where in the world do you start? Sometimes it can seem a bit daunting to figure out exactly how you’d like to give, but we’ll make it easy with a few steps.
Step 1: Decide what cause or foundation you want to give back to
Of course, the first step is selecting a specific cause or nonprofit you want to donate to. This is often a personal decision so take some time to dig deep.
When contemplating what causes you want to give back to, it may help to answer these questions:
- Is there anything you watched, read, or heard recently that moved or changed you?
- What has shaped your experiences as an adult? As a child? As a teen?
- What causes do you find yourself speaking out about the most?
- When you hear the phrase “make a difference”, what are the first things to come to mind?
Hopefully these personal answers will get you closer to making your decision. I have a friend who decided to give back to an environmental foundation after watching a documentary that touched him deeply. I have another friend who donates to a third-world country based foundation she worked with on a missions trip.
Transforming into a charitable business helps you tell the true story behind what you do. Partnering with the right foundation or cause can make all the difference.
Need help finding a charity that fits your values? Here are a few resources to help:
Step 2: Decide on what your giving will look like
Now that you’ve chosen a cause or foundation, let’s figure out how you’ll give back to your community. It’s important to dig into this so giving back can become a sustainable part of your charitable business.
There’s no one-size-fits all answer to this so consider these key factors:
- Frequency: Are you looking to give a monthly donation to a nonprofit? Do you want to give a lump sum at the end of the year? You have the power to decide how often you want to give. There’s no right or wrong answer so choose what works best for your business.
- Amount: It’s important to ask yourself how much you’re willing to give. It may be a percentage of your sales, like 10% or 25% of your product revenue, or you may have a specific number in mind. Decide what amount that is and make a plan.
Step 3: Create an action plan for giving back
Now that you know what causes you want to donate to and how much (and often) you’ll be giving, it’s time to create a strategic plan to help you get there.
The big question is “Where will the money come from?” Will you be donating a portion of your freelance income? Maybe you’re planning on selling digital products and donating sales from those purchases.
After you’ve decided what money you’ll give from what you’ve earned, it’s a good idea to set a donation goal. I like to set a minimum, standard, and reaching (or dreamy) goal when donating to charities. It helps me keep on track and accountable to giving back in a big way.
Beyond monetary donations: Other ways to give back
A lot of what we’ve talked about so far has been focused on monetary donations, but what if you feel pulled to give back in other ways? It’s time to get creative! Let’s cover additional ways of helping your cause:
Volunteering your time
We’re never too busy for purposeful charity work. Rather than giving money, maybe what you crave is donating your time to an important cause. This is a great way to get involved in your local community and connect with your neighbors. Even tasks as simple as mowing your elderly neighbor's lawn or volunteering at a soup kitchen can make a large impact.
Your skills could greatly benefit a foundation in need. Think about donating your time and talents to a worthy cause by partnering with a foundation. Research nonprofits in your area and offer your services. It’s a great way to make a tangible difference. You never know what kind of connections you’ll make!
Sponsorships are another great way to give back. Maybe there’s an upcoming charitable business event you’d like to get involved with. You could do so through a one-time monetary donation, donating product (hello swag bags!), or sponsoring another attendee and covering their ticket cost.
Maybe rolling up your sleeves and raising money in your community is more your style. You can fundraise through events like silent auctions, neighborhood sales, benefit concerts, and beyond. You can also crowdfund with sites like GoFundMe which are centered around charitable causes. The sky’s the limit!
Ready to give back to your community?
Have you ever used your business platform to give back? What causes do you feel most passionate about? Tell us about how you plan to give back in the comments!