While running your own business can sometimes feel like a solitary affair—particularly on those days where you’re the last one there, switching off the lights only to turn them on 8 hours later—it really does take a village. Whether it’s your equally-dedicated staff, your family and support system, or the loyal customers who stop by weekly and bring their friends, your business exists in a greater community. So every now and then, it’s worth considering ways you can give back to this community and play a role in making it better.
The last quarter of the year goes by quickly. Blink and you’ll miss it. Between the changing seasons, holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving, and end-of-year celebrations, there is a lot to keep up with as a business owner. Quick on the heels of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday is Giving Tuesday (November 28th is Giving Tuesday 2023). Giving Tuesday provides a fundraising opportunity for charities and opportunity for people to take advantage of tax-deductible donations before the end of year deadline.
But Giving Tuesday isn’t just for non-profits and individual donors. Businesses of all types and sizes can participate in Giving Tuesday. This can be in the form of monetary charitable donations, and in-kind donation in the form of goods or services, or a fundraising campaign. Read on for step-by-step guide on how to make sure Giving Tuesday 2023 the most impactful one yet.
1. Choose a cause
The first step to a successful Giving Tuesday campaign is choosing a worthy cause and charitable organization to receive your donation. There are many different types of charitable organizations, but if you’re looking to make a tax deductible donation you’ll want to select a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. As with all tax matters, it’s necessary to consult with a tax professional to make an informed decision.
Consider what causes are meaningful to you, your employees, and the customers you serve. This could mean supporting a local charity that makes an impact in your community, or answering a call to action for a recent natural disaster or other emergency. For example, in the wake of the Maui wildfires, many restaurants rallied to support the Lahaina restaurants and staff that were impacted. However, you don’t have to look too far to find a worthwhile organization to support. Ask your employees and regular customers if they’re involved with a particular charity. Perhaps an organization has reached out to your business throughout the year for donations—this could be a great time to support them.
2. Create a strategy
Once you’ve decided on the organization you’re going to donate to, it’s time to make sure your Giving Tuesday is a success. It’s helpful to think of charitable campaigns like you would a marketing or sales campaign—you’re trying to motivate people to action.
As with any campaign, you’ll want to set a goal. This can be monetary if you’re raising money or focused on reach if you’re donating in-kind goods or services. Maybe you want to set a goal of donating to 3 organizations per year to expand your reach in the community. There are many ways to make an impact. Here are just a few Giving Tuesday ideas to inform your donation strategy.
Giving Tuesday ideas
When we think of charitable donations, many of us think of writing a check or putting in credit card information online to give a certain amount of money. While this can be an option for small businesses, many opt for donating a percentage of sales during a window of time. This works twofold: it encourages customers to come in to your store or restaurant and gets funds to charitable organizations.
To donate a percentage of sales as part of a Giving Tuesday campaign, first decide the parameters. Are you going to donate a percentage of sales of a particular item or entree? Or will you donate a percentage of all sales during a certain time period? Setting clear donation goals and guidelines ahead of time will help you measure the success of your Giving Tuesday campaign and ensure it doesn’t eat into your regular operations.
You want to donate a large sum of money to a local charity but you can’t risk operating a cash-strapped business and you need to make sure you help yourself before helping others. In this scenario, running a fundraising campaign can be a great alternative to donating directly from your own profits.
A fundraising campaign encourages your customers or guests to donate alongside their purchase or order. This additional payment goes to the charity as a monetary donation. You might also opt to match the fundraised donations to a certain amount to encourage participation. Keep in mind you’ll want to make a record of these payments and retain relevant receipts. If you’re planning on making a tax deductible donation, be sure to talk to a certified tax professional to ensure your donation is eligible.
It’s possible you don’t have cash to donate, but you could still provide an in-kind donation in the form of goods and/or services. Restaurants, retail shops, and small businesses alike might consider offering their expertise and merchandise in service of a charitable organization. This could be in the form of gift cards or items for a charity auction or raffle, catering an event, or providing food or free services to organizations who serve people in need.
Consult a tax professional for advice on how non-cash donations can be a part of your tax-deductible giving campaign.
Host an event
Events are huge fundraising opportunities for many charitable organizations. They help spread awareness, encourage people to donate, and help with volunteer recruitment. But they also require a tremendous amount of people-power to be successful. Here’s where your small business can come in.
Many non-profits are cash-strapped and looking for ways to save money by getting their necessities for free or at a reduced-rate. Offering your retail or restaurant space for a fundraising event is one way to support a charitable organization’s good work and provide charitable donations that go beyond dollars and cents. Maybe a nearby organization is looking for a space to recruit volunteers or host a gift-basket packing event. If you’re able, this is a great way to support a charitable organization and connect with like-minded folks in your community.
Most Giving Tuesday campaigns center around donating money, goods, or other non-cash donations that could generate money for the organization. But you can also give your time. Volunteering to make an event or campaign successful, or giving your employees volunteer time off to support their favorite charity, can be meaningful and impactful.
Around the holidays, there are plenty of opportunities to help people in need. This could mean hosting a winter clothing or food drive and giving your employees volunteer time to sort the clothes or food items. For these kinds of projects, it’s a great idea to link up with a reputable organization. They can advise on what items are most in need and ensure these items get to the people who need them. You don’t want to wind up donating a bunch of size large coats when the nearby shelter really only needs size small.
Volunteer events can also provide opportunity for your employees to connect off-the-clock, get their families involved, and pay it forward.
3. Spread the word
The final step in getting your small business involved with Giving Tuesday is spreading the word about your upcoming campaign and, later, sharing the success of your fundraising effort. This can be part of your existing restaurant marketing strategy by adding to your social media and email marketing calendar.
Simply by spreading awareness about a worthwhile cause or great organization, you can provide valuable support. So, as individuals are looking for organizations to support and places to donate before the end of the fiscal year, post about your business’ charitable donations and why they are meaningful to you and your employees. Also, if your donation is contingent on customer support, it will help get more folks in the door or ordering online to be a part of the campaign.
As you work on end-of-year planning and setting your business up for a successful 2024, Giving Tuesday and charitable donations can be a valuable tool to promote your business and enrich your local community. Consider starting small by donating 5% of sales from a piece or merchandise or cocktail and see how it can make an impact on a charitable organization. After all, if your community played even a small role in getting your business off the ground, it is always a good time to pay it forward (even if it’s not Giving Tuesday).