In 2017, experts found that corporate giving to non-profits and other charities increased by a whopping $20 million from 2016, with about 30 percent of that generosity happening, naturally, in December.
Although it may seem like a coincidence, this is a growing trend that has increased exponentially since the end of the Great Recession back in 2009-2010, with companies around the country generously shelling out millions of dollars to charity every year. And it doesn’t look like it’s a trend that will stop anytime soon.
Even the pandemic of 2020 and the numerous lockdowns didn’t kill the spirit of generosity; generous donations to charity did slow down a bit from 2020-2021, but it was still well within the range of previous years.
So what gives (other than corporations)?
Apparently, generosity turns out to be very good for business, and we’re not just talking about the tax benefits.
Here are some reasons why being generous is good for your soul and your business.
Volunteering for Charities Develops Empathy Between Employees and Managers
Experts have found that corporations that provide workplace volunteer opportunities for employees experience various benefits, such as employees increased loyalty and appreciation for the company, a more positive outlook in terms of their work, and even line managers reported an increased sense of teamwork and empathy.
Volunteering in charities is also a great way for people to hone both their people and leadership skills while doing something good for others.
This is one of the most common ways that corporations give back to charity. Monetary incentives are always great, but most charities find themselves short of manpower. Providing volunteers to these charities will benefit both parties greatly: corporations don’t have to shell out money, whereas charities receive the workforce they desperately need. Some larger corporations even offer their employees paid time off if they volunteer for a charity.
For smaller businesses, volunteering at your local bake off or town square meeting is more than enough to reap the benefits of corporate generosity: it allows you and your employees to foster a closer relation with your local audience and experience the positive effects of generous actions.
Generosity Can Build a Positive Image for your Brand
Sponsorships and corporate giveaways are one of the best ways to show support for your community, your advocacy, and your customers, both here and around the world.
For larger corporations, sponsorships allow companies to provide charitable organizations like schools, community organizations, colleges, et.al. with monetary benefits in exchange for basically free advertising.
Often, large corporations will sponsor the building of a school or a professional sports team in exchange for having their name or their logo incorporated into the uniforms or locations they are sponsoring. When done right, this is a great way for corporations to build stronger ties with their local communities, as their branding can be seen in the sponsorship of community-building activities and will instantly create a positive connection for their brand.
Meanwhile, smaller companies usually opt for providing products or services to charitable institutions in lieu of monetary sponsorships. Often, these products or services are best for creating grassroots connections with your community, as it is a more hands-on way of being generous.
A study by researchers have found that a whopping 90 percent of businesses that provided some form of product donation, service donation, or monetary sponsorship found a significant increase in both sales and positive brand image.
Generosity Breeds Generosity
One of the greatest things about generosity is its ability to foster and replicate itself into the lives it has touched. Often, when companies are generous to their community, their advocacy, or their customer base, these people will give back just as generously.
Obviously, for larger corporations, it won’t match the monetary benefits the corporation gave. But communities will give back in other, meaningful ways.
Customer loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing is probably one of the best ways that grateful people show their gratitude to generous corporations. A company can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on digital marketing or advertising, but word-of-mouth and continued customer loyalty is unbeatable in terms of generating revenue.
Meanwhile, smaller companies benefit just as much as their beneficiaries: often, the communities they’ve helped will also offer their products and services to the company, usually in exchange for mutual support. It’s a great way for small companies to add ‘free’ perks to their employee benefits, with community provided goods and services.
Bottom line: Being Generous Pays Off
The term corporate social responsibility, or CSR, has meant more now than it did years ago. Thanks to the internet and the digital solutions around us, more people are becoming invested in the ethics of the brands they regularly patronize, which means that companies and corporations need to be able to satisfy their customer base’s need for ethical and responsible businesses.
Charity (along with ethical practices) is one of the best ways to show CSR and the most effective way of showing your support for your community.
But here’s the thing: being generous benefits the company, their beneficiaries, AND the employees. In the modern world, everyone wants to believe that they’re working towards the greater good of humanity. More than profit and chasing their dream careers, one of the most important (yet often overlooked) aspects of work-life support is fostering a sense of purpose and altruism in every person in the organization, from CEO and GM to rank-and-file interns and temps.
Yes, being generous is good for business because it lets customers know you’re ethical, and it allows you to write off millions from your tax records, but the real winner are your employees, who will be emboldened with a new sense of purpose and magnanimity, the likes of which would have been impossible if you never attempted to be generous at all.
Even the smallest, generous gesture can make a gigantic impact on the beneficiary of your choice. In the grand scheme of things, being generous will cost you pennies, but gain you millions.