As this year’s UK Charity Week draws to a close, I wanted to reflect on how small and medium business owners can weave charity into their business models.

In the UK at the start of 2023, SMEs accounted for three-fifths of employment and around half of turnover in the UK private sector. The value of employment in SMEs was around £2.4 trillion! According to the Federation of Small Businesses, 80% of their members either volunteered and/or contributed to a local community organisation or charitable cause in the last three years. FSB

The interesting thing about those figures is that the most common way for an SME to contribute to charity was to donate their time and provide skills, resources and mentoring – not cash donations!

So, what’s the best way for your business to contribute to charity?

As with any part of your business, it’s best to have a plan when it comes to charitable causes. Boosting your corporate social responsibility is all well and good, but as I’m sure you know, it can easily get out of hand the more you research the causes in your area.

TIP: Include charity in your annual business plan and/or speak to your accounting team to get reasonable contribution amounts.

Ask yourself two important questions…

1 Who do you want to help?

This is the biggest question as there are so many causes that depend on business contributions. You could choose by personal preference, a poll of your employees, which charity’s mission best aligns with your own? For example, I know of a minibus company who offsets their carbon footprint by planting trees…

2 How frequently can you help?

You could choose to make a donation for a set value of sales. You could choose to take part in a designated event each year, or you could commit to providing services or mentorship on a regular basis. For example, take on some pro bono work or become a trustee.

Once you have decided who to help and how, you can work the time needed and/or the cost of contributing into your 30, 60, 90 day plans, ensuring you’ll never forget to take part, or run out of funds.

Why should your business contribute to charity?

It’s long been my belief that if you have the means to help, you have a moral obligation to do so, even in a small way. But that aside there are many reasons why it’s good for businesses to make charitable contributions:

  • Give back to the community and build positive relationships
  • Attract customers who view charity as a benefit
  • Offset your own carbon footprint
  • Benefit from the marketing your sponsorship generates from the charity
  • Build a positive culture of giving in your business

I hope this article has inspired you to include charity in your next business plan. And if you already do, I’d love to hear more about it. Share your stories on my social media posts as they appear in the coming weeks, or let’s have a networking 1:1.

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