One of the things I find interesting about my business model is that I get to see how other web development companies operate behind the scenes. When it comes to charitable giving, I’ve noticed a clear pattern – most freelancers or small web shops make a donation to charity when tax time comes around (at the end of the year) or when they get a big check in and are feeling generous. Invariably they feel proud and positive about their donations, and express a desire to give more and more as the business grows.
Such generosity is a wonderful thing! Even better, however, is to make charitable donations an integral part of your business, rather than an occasional event. Here some simple ways to increase your overall benefit to charity by incorporating a few simple concepts:
1) Give on a schedule, preferably monthly. Choose a small donation (by dividing last year’s total donations then dividing by 12, perhaps) and schedule a monthly donation as an automated credit card charge. This way, you give the same amount of money, but you are reminded 12 times a year that your business can benefit others and is an asset to the world. Having a monthly reminder that my little business is helping others gives me a feel-good every time I do the books, and the automated monthly payments are convenient and easy.
2) Start small. If you are feeling very generous and want to make a big donation, great. But, you’ll probably give more money (and have less stress) if you stick to a comfortable ‘giving’ budget each month. You can start with a small donation of $10/month, and evaluate it each year to see if you can afford an increase. You’ll probably be able to afford more each year, and it’s a terrific reminder of your business’s success when you increase your monthly donation to the charity of your choice.
3) Don’t wait until you have ‘made it’ to start giving. Philanthropist Warren Buffet says that unless you are an expert at growing wealth (like he is) it’s usually not a good idea to wait until you are flush with cash to begin giving. Unless you intend to become a billionaire, don’t wait. Instead, begin a lifestyle of giving to charity now by donating what you can comfortably afford today rather than waiting until some unknown time in the future.
4) Find a charity that interests you. You will most likely be receiving e-mail updates and other materials from the organization, so try to find one that you legitimately care about. A great resource is www.charitynavigator.com, which provides information on the quality, management, and efficiency of popular charities.
So, it’s much better to make small but regular donations than it is to write the occasional big check. In addition to being more convenient, routine giving is a feel-good for you and your company and will act as an ongoing reminder that your business is more than just a way to earn your income. Over time you’ll develop a lifestyle (and business-style) of giving, and as your business grows it will become more and more satisfying.