One of the best ways to make a positive impact on society is by giving back to your local community. Giving back isn’t just a marketing tactic or tax write off. It’s an investment in others. It shows you care about making the world a better place to live.
“Try and leave this world a little better than you found it, and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate, you have not wasted your time but have done your best.” – Robert Baden-Powell
In this post, we’re going to show how your business can get started giving back to the local community, too. And we’d like to begin by bragging on another local business.
We deeply admire Antis Roofing & Waterproofing for their community service program. They’ve done a lot to help Orange County charities. So much so that we’ve learned a lot just from paying attention to what they do. We think you’ll find it helpful, too.
The Antis story.
Shortly after opening his business in 1989, Charles Antis visited the home of a single mother and her seven children. Upon arrival, he discovered that their roof was leaking. Unfortunately, the family could not afford a new one.
Horrified that a young mother and her six children were sleeping on moldy bedding and breathing in toxic air, Charles decided to do something about it. Although he was still a struggling entrepreneur, he managed to gather low-cost roofing materials and a group of volunteers to give the family a new roof—for free.
Since then, Charles and his company have donated roof installations for every Habitat for Humanity of Orange County home. That’s half a million dollars’ worth.
They also sponsor a family room at the Ronald McDonald house, volunteer their time, raise funds, and are involved on the boards of nonprofit organizations in their community. Taking into account money, time and effort, their total contributions are both staggering and inspiring.
How your business can help Orange County charities.
We interviewed Antis’ Director of Cause, Susan DeGrassi. She shared some excellent ideas on how any business can begin making a difference for Orange County charities. Below is DeGrassi’s 4-step quick start guide.
1. Choose your cause.
What are you passionate about? What are your core values—the things that matter most? Or, as DeGrassi would say, “Find the thing that speaks to your heart.”
Once you find that thing, determine where it intersects with what your company already does. At KME, we use our passion for technology to help orange county charities cut costs on their broadband bills. How can you use your talents and skills to help the local community?
“No one has ever become poor by giving.” – Anne Frank
2. Set your budget.
As a business owner, you already understand how important budgets are. A financial plan is just as important for charitable work as it is for ROI.
“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” – Mother Teresa
If you’re serious about giving back, there are two ways to approach budgeting. The first option is to set up a donor-advised fund. A donor-advised fund acts as a charitable investment account. You get the tax benefits of allocating money for charitable work without the time-commitment of establishing a foundation. And you can contribute to it over time, using funds to support different charities.
If you’re operating with a considerably larger budget (think millions) you can start your own foundation. This option requires a lot more time and greater resource investment than a donor-advised fund but has the potential to do more to help the community in the long run.
3. Pick a partner.
DeGrassi cautions, “It’s hard to be engaged with multiple nonprofits.” Working with more than one charity can dilute your focus and spread your resources too thin. It’s best to hone in on only one.
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” – John Bunyan
Do your research. Read potential partners’ mission statements. Who aligns with your values? What specific services are provided? How are donor funds used?
It’s also important to be pragmatic. Consider things like location and hours of operation. Choosing a charity that’s an hour’s drive away or only open on weekends may make it difficult for you and your team to plug in.
4. Start . . . And Don’t Stop!
It’s one thing to put together a plan. It’s another to follow through. Many businesses want to give back, but charitable work is often the first thing to fall by the wayside when things get chaotic. And things will get chaotic. That’s life.
To avoid dropping the ball, set a goal for yourself and stick to it. Make monthly commitments—a specific amount of money you’ll give, a number of charitable projects you’ll work, or a number of volunteer hours you’ll provide. And then set aside time and resources to meet your goal.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
There are a lot of ways your business to give back to the local community. In the next section of this three-part series, we’ll explore some of the more creative methods for making a difference.