At this point, many companies are still hesitant about supporting a charity. Of course, everyone wants to reach out and help a noble and worthwhile cause. However, the country is still in the throes of the economic crunch, and millions of Americans are still jobless. Many companies are cutting their expenses only to survive. Why should a company support the charity’s goals if they couldn’t even keep themselves afloat?
But, of course, this doesn’t stop the business management of companies who remains steadfast in their goal to support charities. The recession only made the companies more critical about charities support. How, indeed, should a company choose a charitable institution? Why should a company even consider supporting charities? Besides the opportunity to reach out and spread goodwill, are there any good reasons why support for a charity’s goals should be continued?
Motivation for support
Businesses usually consider charities support if they can benefit from the action. This seems rather ironic (is that still charity, if the business expects something in return for their good deeds?)—but the charities are actually willing to oblige. The charities and the corporate world are both aware that their relationship can exist through symbiosis. This isn’t to say every company thinks like this. However, this is a practical scenario. Businesses are profit-oriented; they will utilize anything and everything that could lead them to higher profits.
Of course, providing charities support is beneficial through tax deductions. This is basically one of the reasons why many businesses sponsor their own charities. But more than that, giving charities support is also a great way for gaining recognition. In short, it’s a marketing ploy. Pres relation offices of such companies suggest supporting charities for this reason. Remember the key definition of PR: doing good and telling people about it. Giving charities support is doing good. And when a company has done good, the PR personnel of a company can use it as promotions. Other basic marketing functions of providing charities support (such as promotions during a charity event) apply too.
But before you think providing charities support is all deception and ill-will, it’s important to note that supporting a charity’s goals remains to be a noble act—the explanations above are only the practical side of things. Many companies still provide support for the sole purpose of providing support for a cause that they believe in. Many do support charities because they sincerely want to give back.
Also, many companies provide charities support because it could be practical. Charity does not always mean cash. It could also mean services or the providing of goods. This way, the business can provide charities support without having to take out a single centavo (although, of course, goods and services rendered as charity still amount to something).
Consideration for choosing charities
So you simply want to help a charity. “You are probably asking: what charities do I support?” This is a question that corporate America is probably asking too. How, indeed, do you choose a charity to support? The considerations for both are the same, needless to say.
Many individuals and companies assess the charity’s overhead. Overhead is the operating expense—including the support they provide to their causes. Basically, the charity should run with the administrative costs and the fund-raising costs not going higher than 25 percent. More often than not, this cost is actually lower than 25 percent. However, low overhead cannot be a solid consideration, especially if you’re going to measure in terms of percentage.
But what is this so? Consider a new charity’s resources. New charities tend to have fewer steady supporters, so their resources are far less than the usual charities. In this case, the overhead of the charity will be higher than the said 25 percent. Smaller charities too have fewer resources. And when the charity’s resources are smaller, the cost will obviously be bigger.
Other types of charity with higher overhead than your average charitable institutions include charities with specific causes (for instance, groups that help out people with rare diseases or minorities) and controversial charities. For the former, charities will have much harder time looking for resources since their cause does not have a general appeal or it isn’t well known. The same goes for charities with controversial causes. Just imagine how hard it was to get resources during the first few years after the discovery of HIV/AIDS, a syndrome that wasn’t even fully understood by the medical world during that time.
Therefore, when considering charities, you need to factor in other elements too. Where the charity works can be a good start—but it provides you with fewer charities to choose from. Not all causes have a local group or charity; it’s impossible to have a locally based charity for global warming, for instance. It’s a good consideration, however, especially if you are giving charities support as a community-based company. In this case, supporting local charities does provide more benefits.
Their manner of supporting and their effectiveness are the better considerations. This way, you know you can really make a difference beyond the charity’s goal. For instance, would you support charities that do food drives or would you support charities that help people find ways to have livelihood? Naturally, both ways are effective. However, the former is only good for immediate help; the latter, on the other hand, is more effective on the long term.
Effectiveness, meanwhile, depends on the group altogether. Check out their annual reports, newsletters, and other works that can help you evaluate their cause. Do you know what they are doing exactly, and if they are indeed making a difference? Providing charities support is more than just the act; it’s also about making a difference. What’s the point of supporting a charity if the charity does not make any sort of change in the community or the society? Have you spoken to the people the charity are supposedly helping? Besides providing charities support, it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re making a difference through your help.