How to incorporate philanthropy into your business plan

Corporate social responsibility has become more than just a buzzword – an increasing number of companies are choosing to do business in a socially responsible way, and this can include making philanthropy a core part of how your organization operates.

When you’re looking at incorporating philanthropy into your business, it’s important to approach it in a meaningful and deliberate way. Philanthropy is not just about throwing money at an issue and hoping that it makes a difference. It’s about making a connection and having a tangible impact.

Philanthropy in business can be achieved in a variety of ways – it can include supporting social causes, adopting socially-responsible business practices, or making an impact through your products or services.

Be intentional

When looking at bringing an element of philanthropy into your business, it is important to take the time to identify how and where you want your organization to make a difference.

Sit down and reflect on what you care about both personally and professionally. How do you want to make a difference in the world? Share your vision with your team and plan how you can align your business with your values.

Connect with non-profits and influencers who complement your mission, use them as a resource to help learn how to achieve your goals.

And to successfully integrate philanthropy into your organization, it needs to be a company-wide activity that everyone, from the executive level down, participates in. Make it part of the company culture.

At GUS Canada, we’re passionate about providing education that inspires and prepares our graduates to have a global impact and bring positive change. When COVID-19 emerged, it directly impacted our students and their access to education. We then made it our mission to mobilize our students, staff and community partners to help as many people in our community as we can during this challenging time.

Develop a strategy

Once you know where your company wants to help, strategize what that is going to look like on an ongoing basis. Philanthropy comes in different forms, it’s not just monetary. Non-cash options include donating much-needed products and/or services to a non-profit or volunteering based on your company’s unique skill set.

Monetary options include setting up a corporate foundation – a formal structure for managing corporate giving. Corporate foundations typically include a board of directors that provides oversight to ensure goals are being met.

While the amount an organization contributes to philanthropy can vary depending on the size of the business and how profitable it is, a standard amount falls between 1% and 2% of the gross profit.

For newer companies that aren’t making a profit yet, it might not be feasible to establish a foundation and start making monetary donations. In that case, an organization could initially volunteer its skills or products and then gradually commit to a percentage once it starts turning a profit.

GUS Canada recognized that we could support our community through number of initiatives. We then developed GUS Cares, which aims  to make a substantial contribution to help those impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Find the right fit

When choosing a non-profit, it’s best to start with the same basic criteria an investor uses when assessing for-profit ventures.

You want to take a close look at the organization’s leadership, programs and activities, as well as any possible associated risks. It is important to assess a non-profit’s track record and financial stability.

In addition to that, organizations might want to develop other criteria specific to their business. This means thinking about what will resonate with employees and other stakeholders. Or leave it up to employees – give your workers a say in what matters most to them.

And you don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket. Instead of picking one big project to back, why not choose a few? Seek out local causes in the community that could benefit rather than partnering with a larger non-profit organization.

GUS Cares identified the United Way as a key community organization that is providing support for the most vulnerable in key communities. The United Way is creating lasting change in local communities from coast to coast to coast and that is why they make such a great partner for the GUS Cares initiative, as we also operate coast to coast.

GUS Cares provides care packages for distribution by local United Ways in Metro Vancouver and Toronto. These care packages are made up of personal care products and personal protective equipment. They have been assembled in each city by a team of dedicated student volunteers, who have taken the time to volunteer in the community.

No matter how you incorporate philanthropy into your business, the results are the same – you will not only contribute to the greater good of society, but it can also help boost staff morale, increase employee engagement and motivate better collaboration.

Learn more about the GUS Cares Initiative.

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