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Small Business Charitable Giving Guide for the Holiday Season

Content provided by the Better Business Bureau
Donating to charities is not just something your business can do to help the community, it can also help your bottom line. A recent study found that for every dollar given to charitable organizations, two to three dollars is returned in sales. If you’re looking to give to a worthy cause this holiday season, Better Business Bureau offers advice and guidance to help you give wisely.According to a 2002 survey commissioned by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, more than 91 percent of small businesses in the U.S. support charitable organizations.  While 85 percent of those surveyed had donated money, the research revealed that small business giving is not confined to writing checks. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of small business owners/managers had supported charities through in-kind contributions of products or services.Whether your business is small or large, BBB offers the following advice for giving this holiday season:


  • Before giving to any charity, check the organization out with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance to make sure they uphold BBB standards. You can view more than one thousand BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM on national charitable organizations at www.bbb.org/charity. To access reports on local charities completed by the BBB in your area, go to www.bbb.org.


  • If your business is inundated with an ever-increasing number of appeals, consider developing a more carefully defined giving program. For example, you might decide how much you want to contribute during the year, identify a short list of “must” contributions, and then select one or two focal points for the firm’s giving.


  • Your company’s focus on giving should reflect its size, location, structure, business objectives, and the needs of the community. You might also want to involve employees in the decision process or give to programs your employees are already involved in.


  • Ask questions of the charity, and do not contribute until you are satisfied with the answers. Charities with nothing to hide will encourage your interest. Be wary of those reluctant to answer reasonable questions.


  • Assign one staff person to handle all requests for charitable donations. This will save time and eliminate the possibility of duplicate donations.


  • Do not succumb to pressure to give money on the spot. The charity that needs your money today will welcome it tomorrow.


  • If you are purchasing items to benefit a charity (such as tickets to a dinner or performance), keep in mind that only the portion of the price that exceeds the “fair market value” of the item may be deductible as a charitable gift. In most cases, the charity’s invitation will disclose this information.


  • Be wary of statements such as “all proceeds go to charity.” That can mean that only the money left after expenses – which may be considerable, or not will go to the charitable cause.


  • If you are asked to buy ad space in a charity publication, ask the same types of questions you would ask of any ad placement: How many copies will be printed? How will they be distributed? Is there a cover price for the publication? Who is the audience? At best, the ad may be deductible as a business expense only if it is deemed to be “ordinary and necessary” in the conduct of your business (i.e., reaching the people who might typically purchase your service and/or product(s).


  • Do not be misled by a name that looks impressive or resembles the name of a well-known organization. Check out the organization at www.bbb.org/charity to make sure you’re giving to a legitimate organization.


  • Bear in mind that, although most states and many communities require charitable organizations to be registered with – or licensed by – state and local authorities, registration does not mean that the government endorses the charity.


  • Always make your contribution by check, and make the check payable to the charity, not to the individual collecting the donation.


  • Keep records of your donations such as receipts and canceled checks to document your charitable giving at tax time. Receipts and other written records should show the name of the organization and the date and amount of the contribution. Although the value of your time as a volunteer is not tax deductible, out-of-pocket expenses that directly relate to your volunteer services, such as transportation costs, may be deductible.


  • If your business is interested in promoting the sale of an item to benefit a charity, make sure you obtain written consent from the subject organization and be mindful to disclose the amount of the purchase price to benefit the charity in your promotion.
For more information and advice you can trust from the BBB Wise Giving Alliance about being a savvy donor this holiday season, go to www.bbb.org/charity.




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Mitchell regan  |  December 02, 2010
It is good that the sense of holiday seasons is for giving.It is also often makes the season a good time for job searchers to pick up the pace. Hiring managers are working with fewer applications and individuals committed to finding employment throughout the holiday seasons look all the more remarkable. <br/>