Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Benefits of Giving Back

There are few satisfactions in life that can match the feeling of helping to make the world a better place. And while there are many ways to accomplish this, ranging from modest to ambitious, supporting a cause you believe in can bring a tremendous sense of fulfillment, in addition to improving the lives of others. But that’s not all—involvement with charitable work can be a boon for your business too.

Read on to find out why.

1.  Goodwill. Which business would you rather patronize and support: one that participates in community-building projects, sponsors events and fundraisers, and sends volunteers to help out—or one that does none of those things? All else being equal, most people would choose the former. By showing an enthusiasm for helping and giving back, you demonstrate that you are invested in the success and welfare of the community. This will not go unnoticed or unappreciated by local residents, and may help to secure and expand a loyal customer base.

2.  Networking. Advertising and marketing have certainly evolved over the decades, but few offer better results than does the oldest medium around: word-of-mouth. Volunteerism is a great way to spend time with like-minded people, many of whom may be able to offer referrals, or become prospective clients themselves. There is also some overlap with item 1. (above): the more you show enthusiasm for assisting and empowering others, the more likely they will be to do the same for you.

While devoting your time to a worthy cause, keep your eyes open for talented and proficient volunteers. Charity events are a great way to meet skilled, ambitious professionals who care deeply about the health of their communities, and are comfortable with both individual tasks and teamwork. These are qualities that typify excellent colleagues and employees too.

3.  Association with reputable causes. Again, this point partially ties into items 1. and 2., respectively. A business that associates itself with well-regarded causes is likely to attract clients and customers with shared values. Furthermore, organizations will often show appreciation for the support of their donors by mentioning the names of those benefactors at their events.

4.  Employee morale. Some companies earmark a few hours of each week for employee volunteerism, and (in the case of a team-oriented project) allow employees to vote on which charity or non-profit organization they would prefer to serve. Not only will this enhance the perception of your workers toward their employer, it also has the potential to attract new, community-oriented prospective employees to your business.

5.  Tax deductions. In many jurisdictions (including Canadian provinces), funds donated to charity by individuals and businesses may be eligible for tax breaks. If you host a fundraising event, and cover the cost of meals or other expenses for that event, those costs can also be written off in some cases. Make sure to obtain and hold onto all receipts!

6.  Personal growth. Charity work can be an enriching experience for you as an individual as well. You’ll have the opportunity to hone a wide range of skills, and undertake duties that would not normally be part of your day job. By helping those less fortunate than yourself, you’ll be reminded that your own challenges, important though they may be, pale in comparison to the problems other people face—and we could all use a bit of perspective sometimes. You may even be inspired by individuals who have dealt with tragedy, confronted significant obstacles, and succeeded at overcoming long odds in life.

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