Every year, Canadian organizations donate to non-profits as a way of contributing to the well-being of communities locally, nationally and internationally. Successful businesses see charitable giving as a central piece of their business model, and begin setting aside budget and planning charitable giving strategies at the very beginning of the year. While the holiday season is over, and your team is likely settling back in to regular business operations, it’s never too early to start planning.

Here are just a few tips on how to create your 2018 charitable giving strategy:

CHOOSE A CAUSE

Look at your company’s vision, mission, values and overarching goals. It makes sense to support a cause that aligns with your corporate mandate, so look broadly and find a cause (or multiple causes) that are important and relate to your business. A great way to choose a cause is to, together with your internal team, think about the change you want to make, the impact you want to make where and to whom, and the results you want to accomplish. Then, choose a cause and support an organization who is doing exactly that.

DO AN AUDIT & PICK A NON-PROFIT

You should conduct a full audit of any initiatives, campaigns or organizations your business has previously supported, and decide whether you’re committed to continuing to support them or not. If you’ve supported previous charities that have effectively stewarded your giving contributions, you don’t have to stop supporting them or their cause. You can also always donate to multiple charities that align with the impact your company is trying to make.

As mentioned above, prior to choosing a non-profit you would like to support, you should also conduct an audit on them as well. The Government of Canada provides a list of charities which can help you determine whether a non-profit if registered, revoked, etc. to help you make better giving decisions. Other than asking around to other businesses who have directly supported the charities you’re interested in helping, you can also do a preliminary web search to ensure there aren’t any additional concerns about misuse of funds or fraud. Ensure you support a non-profit who will put your dollars to work, and not put them towards their own overhead.

Keep in mind, you don’t have to pick just one non-profit. Bolder Giving, a US-based non-profit, recommends using the 50/30/20 rule. This means focusing 50% of your giving on one or two select charities, keeping 30% for community gifts, and keeping the remaining 20% for “impulse gifts,” such as unplanned donations to support disaster relief.

MAKE A SMART GIVING STRATEGY AND PLAN FOR THE YEAR (AND BEYOND)

Strategy is the necessary foundation for any successful initiative, whether that be a marketing plan, business plan, communications plan, or charitable giving plan. While clearly communicating a company’s goals and objectives, a detailed strategy can also help demonstrate to internal stakeholders that all donated dollars are being put to good use.

Now that you’ve done your due diligence in choosing a cause (or several causes) to support, you should develop a yearly giving plan based around the strategic insight you gained from your audit. Treat any charitable donation as an investment decision, no matter how big or small the amount is. Planning all of your charitable giving, while leaving a little wiggle room for impulse gifts, will help guarantee your donations aren’t just seasonal, but are a year-round effort to support a cause your business is passionate about. It will also give you a great jumping off point for next year’s charitable giving audit, and will help you adapt your strategy to be even more impactful in the years that follow.

Here are some informative charitable giving fast facts, according to Stats Canada (2011):

  • In 2010, Canadian financial donations that individuals made to charitable or non-profit organizations totaled around $10.6 billion
  • As people age, the amount of their donations tends to increase
  • People who volunteer more tend to donate more
  • In Canada, donors in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan give more
  • Women are more inclined than men to give to organizations in the Health sector
  • One-third of Canadians donate in response to canvassing at a shopping center or on the street
  • Donors’ perceptions of how organizations were using their money seemed less positive than in previous years. When asked in 2010 why they had not given more, 37% of donors said they agreed with the statement, “you did not think the money would be used efficiently”, compared with 33% in 2007. This perception tended to increase with age.

While many relate more money with making more of an impact when it comes to charitable giving, this isn’t necessarily the case. To make an impact, it’s not about the amount of money you give, but how well you strategize your donations.

Like many of our clients and other businesses, we at William Joseph are committed to strengthening the communities where we live and work. This means we are dedicated to supporting likeminded non-profits who spread hope and make a positive impact, locally and beyond. Organizations such as STARS Air Ambulance, Kids Cancer Care Foundation and Alberta’s Promise, just to name a few, are on the top of our list. Find what you’re passionate about, make it stick, and make a difference.

While you have probably just got back to the office after the holidays and don’t have creating a giving strategy at the top of your priority list, plan before the busyness of the year takes over. It’s a New Year. Be a “New You” with a calculated giving strategy that aligns charitable giving with your business goals.