Business Owners Dream Big - But At What Point Do You Achieve ‘Success’?

Entrepreneurs start businesses to add value to society. If you set up your charity giving strategy now, while you’re running your business, you’ll be able to grow your giving as your business grows. Let's look at what you should consider and when a good time is to introduce it into the business.

Business Owners Dream Big - But At What Point Do You Achieve ‘Success’?

Entrepreneurs start businesses to add value to society. If you set up your charity giving strategy now, while you’re running your business, you’ll be able to grow your giving as your business grows. Let's look at what you should consider and when a good time is to introduce it into the business.

Success means different things to different people – but if your business is profitable enough to add philanthropy to the mix, that could be a great indicator that you’ve made it. Many business owners feel a great sense of achievement when they can grow both their business and the impact their business has on communities around them.

Don’t wait until you’re ready to sell your business to consider your giving strategy. You can do good for the community while running your business. And it’s OK to use corporate philanthropy to attract and engage employees and customers – these are unintended benefits of being seen as a business that cares anyway. If you’re strategically and genuinely supporting causes and sharing the goodness and impacts you are having, your brand will be seen in a more positive way.  

What is Corporate Philanthropy?

Corporate philanthropy involves members of your business giving time, talent (skills) or treasures (resources, money, equipment etc.) to charitable causes.  For example:

  • Your staff could spend time bonding over planting trees for the environment or using their accounting knowledge or social media skills to help build systems or strategy for a charity.  
  • Your staff could give pre-tax donations from their payroll to charity.  
  • You could lend meeting rooms or office space for charity events.

You may also know this as “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR), “ESG” or “Sustainability” and “Social Impact. Caring for the Environment, Social Issues and ensuring good Governance are important elements of running a business.

Why Should You Consider Corporate Philanthropy?

There are so many business benefits when it comes to philanthropy. Here are some reasons why philanthropy is considered good for business:

  • Positive brand image: Engaging in philanthropy can enhance your company's reputation and create a positive brand image. Consumers are often more inclined to support businesses that demonstrate a commitment to social and environmental issues, leading to increased loyalty and trust.
  • Competitive advantage: In today's socially conscious landscape, businesses that prioritise philanthropy may gain a competitive advantage over competitors. Research shows that Millennials want to work for and shop with businesses who are living out their community values.  
  • Engage and retain employees: Philanthropic initiatives can boost employee morale and engagement. When employees feel proud of their employer's charitable efforts, they are more likely to be motivated and committed to their work. Your social impact will attract and retain talented individuals who seek meaning and purpose in their jobs.
  • Networking and partnerships: Philanthropy provides opportunities for businesses to collaborate with like-minded organisations. These partnerships can lead to mutually beneficial initiatives, expanded networks, and potential business opportunities.
  • Grow customer loyalty: Customers are more likely to stay loyal to companies that actively contribute to causes they care about. By aligning philanthropic efforts with customers' interests, businesses can foster a deeper emotional connection with their target audience.
  • Tax benefits: Individuals and businesses may receive tax deductions for charitable donations - giving to charity can be a tax-efficient way to support the community – check a charity’s tax-deductible “DGR” status on the ATO (Australian Taxation Office) before you give.

WARNING: Philanthropy should be approached with authenticity and a genuine desire to make a positive impact. Socially conscious audiences today will see right through merely using philanthropic activities as a marketing tactic without a sincere commitment to social responsibility – this could have adverse effects on your reputation (ahem – greenwashing, window dressing etc). The Edelman Trust Barometer 2019 Special Report “In Brands We Trust?” confirms this consumer behaviour. Carefully select causes that align with your company’s values and actively participate in efforts to create meaningful change.

When Should You Introduce Corporate Philanthropy to Your Business?

The decision to start philanthropy should be based on a company's ability to give back in a meaningful and sustainable way. How do you know when your business is ready to give?  

Here are 10 factors to consider:

  1. Size doesn’t matter: “CSR” and “ESG” sound like multi-million-dollar corporate strategies but small and medium-sized businesses can create philanthropy giving strategies too. From feeling too small to too busy, note that you don’t have to be ultrawealthy to give to charity.  
  2. Financial stability: It’s best to ensure you have a solid financial foundation. Will you have sufficient resources to support both the company's core operations and the chosen charitable activities without compromising business viability?
  3. Clearly defined values and purpose: Define your set of values and a clear sense of purpose that aligns with the philanthropic causes you wish to support. Philanthropy should be an extension of the company's mission and values rather than an isolated PR tactic.
  4. Stakeholder support: Engage your employees, customers, partners, suppliers and investors. Involving employees in the decision-making process and encouraging their active participation in philanthropic activities can foster a sense of ownership and commitment to the causes the business supports. Your genuine philanthropic efforts and impact will attract and retain talent.
  5. Internal capacity: Business owners are constantly creating, innovating and building – you’re probably always ‘too busy’. If you and your staff don’t have capacity to run charity giving activities, then can you partner with experience-providers (e.g. Life Again, Nature Boss, corporate volunteering days), software-providers (e.g. Communiteer, Catalyser, Good2Give) and established foundation, such as the Be BlueRock Foundation.
  6. Long-term commitment: Philanthropy is most effective when it's approached with a long-term commitment rather than as a short-term campaign. Are you prepared to sustain support for your chosen causes over time?
  7. Clear goals and metrics: To make sure that philanthropic efforts have a meaningful impact, establish clear goals and metrics to measure the outcomes of their initiatives. Track progress and make data-driven decisions.
  8. Legal and regulatory considerations: Businesses must understand the legal and regulatory requirements related to philanthropy in their respective jurisdictions. Tax implications, compliance with charitable laws, and transparency in financial reporting are essential considerations.
  9. Ethical considerations: It's crucial for businesses to carefully consider the ethical implications of their philanthropic endeavors. Engaging in philanthropy with the intention of genuinely benefiting the causes and communities involved, rather than solely for public relations or marketing purposes. Almost 9 in 10 Australians believe that brands need to be actively engaging in doing good (Leo Burnett Australia, 2022, HumanKind Intelligence Report: What Good is Doing Good?). Recent research shows that consumers not only want you to give to charity but to address the following issues:
    - Pay employees and suppliers fairly
    - Eliminate corruption and pay appropriate taxes
    - Avoid exploitation in production
    - Reduce environmental impact
    - Increase diversity, equality and inclusion
    There is low tolerance on these issues and customers are willing to walk away from businesses who fail to meet these expectations.
  10. Collaboration opportunities: can you collaborate on a campaign or initiative with a client or partner? Collaborative partnerships can extend the reach and effectiveness of the initiatives.

Overall, philanthropy should be approached with genuine intent, careful planning, and a commitment to making a positive impact. When a business is financially and ethically ready, and its philanthropic efforts align with its values and mission, you can effectively start giving back to society.

Dream big – start small. Most importantly, act NOW.

Entrepreneurs start businesses to add value to society. If you set up your charity giving strategy now, while you’re running your business, you’ll be able to grow your giving as your business grows. Small businesses are not too small to have an impact. Giving back and doing good for people and planet can be an indicator of success. You can spread the word about your social impact and define what success means to you and your business.

Stay up to date with the Be BlueRock Foundation, learn about philanthropy and discover different ways to get involved with your business or your family.