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Being Wise with your Charitable Giving

One of the hardships of helping with charitable causes as a small business owner is that you have probably worked with people that have made not-for-profit organizations look bad. They have asked or had expectations of receiving from you at such a deep discount or for free that you end up suffering to fulfill a request. Giving should hopefully come from a place of abundance and joy and not from a curmudgeon’s closed fist.

Case by Case Basis

But one of the best and hardest lessons you can learn early on is to ensure that you can give but not giving to the point of your business taking some severe hits. There is a delicate balance when it comes to running your business and helping out others. We had to learn this the hard way. We helped a young businessman who was starting out and had a compelling sob story. We helped with accounting and helped him set things up for his business and because of his story did it for no charge. The following weeks he gave a testimonial about all that we had done and also said, “and he did it all for free.” It was at that time that I realized that it wasn’t fair to our other clients and didn’t give enough credit to our services to continue to not charge for what we were able to offer. We like to take each chance to help someone on a case by case basis so that we can ensure that our business goals are not in jeopardy while also helping out in our community.

Set Healthy Boundaries

If you decide to help out an individual or organization with some discounted work or sponsorship; it is helpful to put up some healthy boundaries. You must recognize yourself as a small business owner which means that unlike our large corporate brothers, we may not always have a steady flow of cash coming in to put towards charitable functions. If you are asked to sponsor a particular event or provide services for an event; make sure that they understand that it is just for this event only and that you will need to be asked for any additional functions in the future.

Be upfront about your costs to any projects that you may take on your plate. You know that you may decide to donate your services, but that doesn’t mean that you are asking your employees to give their time as well. If you are paying people to help someone out, make sure that you can pay them or that they are compensated for their work.

A good rule of thumb is always to try and find a balance between running your business and recognizing the ways that you can give back. We hope to continue to value our services and also find ways to appreciate the communities we serve in. Let us know how you balance your business and charitable giving in the comments below!