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Philanthropy in Business: How to Find & Pick the Charities You Give To

Photo by Anes Sabitovic on Unsplash

So many of us start our businesses so we can give back in big, bold ways to our families, our communities, and the world at large. For me, impact is my core motivator. I lose motivation very quickly if I’m not giving back through my time, talents, or money. One of the ways I bring philanthropy into my business is by giving a certain percentage of every project to charities I believe in.

Today, I want to walk you through the steps I took to evaluate, and eventually decide, on the charities I would support and how you can do the same! 

1. Determine the Core Values of your Business

As a brand strategist, I was bound to bring up core values at some point in this conversation. But seriously, your core values are the cornerstone of everything you do. If you don’t know what your business stands for at its core you won’t be able to identify the charities that align with those values.

Spend some time nailing down 3-5 values your business is built on.

One of our values is wholehearted generosity.

This means we look for wholehearted generosity in everything we do—from the businesses we collaborate with to the charities we give to.

PS: 99% of your business values are your own personal values so you’ll definitely see overlap in how you live your life and run your business.

2. Answer the Question: “What are you passionate about?”

The next thing you want to do is more personal, determine what you are most passionate about.

What are the causes and issues you are really passionate about? What are the things you find yourself reading research articles on or sharing with your friends and family regularly?

Take some time to list out issues that are near and dear to your heart. This list might be long, but don’t worry, write it all down.

Then, I want you to ask yourself: why do each of these causes mean something to me?

Write down the answer next to each cause.

Again, ask yourself why. And again. And again.

Continue asking “why” until you’ve whittled down your list to the top two or three causes that hold the deepest meaning for you and reflect the core values you live by.

SIDE NOTE: As you start to list the things you’re passionate about, you might feel a bit of anxiety. There are so many issues needing to be fixed that can lead you to feel overwhelmed and maybe even think, “well what I’m doing certainly won’t help“. I know because I felt the same way as I compiled my own list. But giving up doesn’t solve anything either! Your willingness to help, even if it’s from a quarter to $5, is massive!

The world will only change if we all do our part, big or small, to help instead of leaving it to “others.”

If you need to, take a deep breath, step away, but come back and finish … because you’re helping change the world!

3. Determine How to Incorporate Philanthropy in Business

Now that you know your biggest passions, compile a list of charities that work on those issues you’re passionate about to determine how you’d like to incorporate philanthropy in your business.

This is the research phase of the process, and it’s my absolute favorite. I could seriously nerd out forever on this, but for your sake I’ll keep this nice and simple!

  • Use tools like (not affiliated) or Google to find charities working on the issues you are passionate about
  • Make sure you select a few charities in each category you’re looking at. This will become important in step 4.

4. Rigorously Evaluate the Charities on Your List

Any organization actually doing the work their website says they’re doing is transparent about their funding, how they spend the money they receive, and how their organization works.

When rigorously evaluating each charity, you’ll find clear evidence they’re doing what they say they are doing.

  • Again, use tools like Charity Navigator, and ruthlessly evaluate each charity. Charity Navigator will give you all sorts of information, like how they classify themselves to the IRS, where they get their funding, how accountable and transparent they are as an organization, and much more.
  • Take a look at their websites and what they say their mission is. I always start with tools like Charity Navigator before going to the website because websites are built to make you look good. 😉 You want to go in armed with unbiased information that will help you see their website through an objective lens as opposed to emotional. Then ask yourself if their mission is aligned with your core values and how you want to give back to the world through philanthropy in business.
  • Look into the people who run the organization and read up on their background. You can learn a lot about an organization by learning about the people who are running the show.

Now this may all sound super intense for selecting a charity, but it’s vital in making sure you’re giving your money to places that will actually work to make a difference in the world.

Nothing will motivate you more to go out there and make an impact than finding charities and people who are literally elbows deep in changing the world for the better.

 5. Compile Your Short List & Give!

Last but not least, you want to make a short list of all the charities you believe are: in alignment with your core values, causes you are passionate about, and doing ethical work to the highest standards.

Finally,  it’s time to plan for how to make the giving back happen. You’ll want to decide on some of the following:

  • Will you give to only one charity, multiple charities, or rotate through the charities on your short list?
  • Will you give a flat dollar amount, a percentage of total revenue, or a percentage of profit?
  • Will you donate every month, quarter, or year?
  • Will you ask your community to participate or will this just be something you do behind the scenes?

Whew, you made it! You are now completely equipped to find, evaluate, and select the charities you want to give back to through philanthropy in businesses. Yes, this is hard work, but it is so, so worth it!

Go out there and be a part of the change, friends! 

Ready to dream big about helping countless others, leave a legacy, and make an impact… without breaking the bank? Get our Ultimate Guide to Philanthropy in Business.

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