Insights | 6 MIN READ

7 most-asked questions about business philanthropy answered

With 3 bonus ones if you read till the end.

In today’s business landscape, philanthropy has become an increasingly common feature in modern businesses. Before deciding to add a philanthropic element to their business, most business owners understandably have many reservations and questions they would first like to address.

To shed more light on this, we have put together our answers to the 7 most frequently asked questions by our members to help you make a more informed decision when it comes to giving through your business.

Click below to jump to your most burning question:

How much giving is enough?

When is the right time for my business to give back?

How do I know which cause to give to?

Should I talk about my giving?

When business is not doing well, should I still give?

How do I ensure giving goes to the causes?

Why are there fees involved in giving?

BONUS: top 3 questions about B1G1

 

1. How much giving is enough?

This is another topmost concern when it comes to giving. However, the notion that a great impact can only be made with a large amount of funding is not necessarily accurate anymore. Giving is no longer exclusive to businesses with deep pockets and massive budgets – if small and medium businesses wish to, they have many options to give back and make significant impacts that do not involve lavish expenditure.

Instead of taking this approach, perhaps the question to ask yourself is this ‘How much impact do I want my business to make?’ No matter how much or little your business can give, your giving can make a great impact. In areas of need, even one cent is enough to make a real, positive impact. Providing access to clean water for a day can cost as little as a cent, while other impacts such as giving a book to a child in Cambodia can cost less than a dollar.

2. When is the right time for my business to give back?

For many businesses, this poses one of the greatest dilemmas. While the traditional belief may be to give only when you have enough for yourself, reality reflects that this notion causes us to repeatedly (and sometimes, indefinitely) postpone giving.

Fortunately, this is no longer the only way forward. By adopting a variety of methods to give, your business can begin giving back at any point you choose – here are some suggestions on how:

When you are just starting your business: Deciding how giving can be part of your business at this point allows for the most flexibility and room for creativity. Many businesses seize this opportunity to integrate giving into their business model, often making it a visible part of their business philosophy and mission.

When you are building your customer base: Inspiring motivation that goes beyond hitting targets in this stressful period may motivate you and your team to go further. For example, this can be done through giving with every new customer, adding deeper meaning and purpose to your work.

When your business is growing (and starting to make a profit): This is one of the best opportunities to begin giving due to your increased capacity. By setting giving goals that are not centered around profits and the bottom line, you can add a dimension of meaning to your business and how it serves others.

When your business is stable: Given this stability and capacity, your business can explore and implement a variety of approaches, including ideas that can engage your customers and team in giving even more. You will also realize that ideas such as volunteering and giving campaigns are great ways to start building a giving culture in your company

 

3. How do I know which cause to give to?

A simple way that has worked well for our members is to give to causes you are passionate about. Choosing to do so is more likely to keep you engaged and motivated in your giving for a long time. Similarly, catering to the preferences of different employees in your company in terms of giving can have the same effects as well. Here are some ways you can do so:

  • Set a monthly giving budget for each employee to give to a non-profit organization of their choice
  • Set up an employee account in B1G1 and let your employee give to any projects in the list of 400+ projects
  • Give a gift to the employee’s favorite cause during their birthday

4. Should I talk about my giving?

Sometimes, members ask us whether their specific giving activities should be expressed clearly to their clients or if it should be shared more modestly.

While we cannot speak for everyone, our belief is that all B1G1 businesses give because they genuinely care and want to do great things with their business.

We encourage every business in B1G1 to communicate their motivation to give. Doing so inspires others to begin giving as well, and we believe that the only way to create a world that’s full of giving is by encouraging every business to integrate giving into their everyday activities.

However, this does not necessarily mean that all businesses should trumpet how they carry out their giving. Some businesses prefer to keep details about their business’ giving activities private – which is perfectly fine. Other businesses choose to share their joy and gratitude of being a giving business with their teams and clients, appreciating the roles that they play in enabling the business to grow and create greater impacts together.

5. When business is not doing well, should I still give?

Inevitably, this depends on your company’s financial capacity in this period. While it may seem counterintuitive, giving even in hard times can actually be a motivator that supports your team to push past this challenging season. If you still have the financial capacity to give during a tough season, we encourage you to carry on with your giving.

6. How do I ensure giving goes to the causes?

Many people hesitate or get stuck at this point – but there are measures that you can take to make an informed decision pertaining to the organization or cause you to decide you give to.

A first step would be to take a closer look at the organization’s annual reports, paying attention to the proportion of funding that goes towards actual projects and the corresponding amount that goes towards administrative purposes such as salaries and marketing.

Depending on the size of the organization and the scale of their operations, administrative costs may be a larger number than you expect. Hence, it may be more worthwhile in these cases to focus on what these funds were used for.

Another approach would be to find out if you will be able to receive detailed updates and information surrounding the impacts that will be made with your giving. This can be done through regular project updates or a detailed breakdown of giving impacts into discrete units.

But if that seems like too much work, look for a third-party organization that can help you do all the work and certify the charities for you.

7. Why are there fees involved in giving?

Regardless of the giving model, all organizations are bound to incur administrative costs that will have to be covered by fees one way or another. While the amount required may sometimes exceed our expectations, understanding the context in which they are used and how they enable these non-profit organizations to do the work they do will likely lend some perspective.

Non-profit organizations are just like businesses in many aspects – they also need steady flows of finances to grow, establish infrastructure, attract and retain talented employees and so on. If viewed in business terms, these fees serve as small investments that will enable them to continue creating great returns in terms of positive social impacts, some of which can result in multiplied or long-term effects on needy communities.


BONUS: TOP 3 questions about B1G1

8. How does B1G1 select the projects in its list?

Before charity organizations can list their projects on B1G1, they have to first ensure that they meet the requirements in the 2-tiered Worthy Causecriteria listed here. Following that, they will undergo our application process which involves completing a questionnaire and submission of documents such as a charity registration certificate, annual reports and audited accounts. All applications will be vetted by B1G1’s Giving Board, with the application of specific criteria to evaluate the organizations and the likelihood of them benefitting from our system.

 

9. How does B1G1 uphold integrity in the handling of donations?

The membership model was purposefully implemented to ensure that any amount given by our business members is remitted in its entirety to your chosen causes.

Our Worthy Cause partners will then utilize these funds to run the projects accordingly – they are required to confirm this after every remittance. While the purpose of these funds would mainly be to support the running of projects, the Worthy Cause may also have to use a portion of them on administrative purposes that support their projects.

B1G1 also carries out an annual review on all projects to ensure that the existing projects are ongoing and still making great impacts on the ground.

 

10. Why is there a membership fee?

The membership system was created to keep B1G1 self-sustaining, accounting for all operational costs and enabling the development of great member tools and resources. It also empowers us to continue expanding our vision and the giving movement.

In addition, this system also allows us to remit 100% of members’ giving towards their selected projects. This maximizes the impact of our members’ giving and allows our Worthy Cause partners to utilize the full sum of giving intended for their projects.

 

The business arena is one of great diversity and creativity, where trends and new ideas are constantly forming and evolving as time passes, and where companies of all forms and sizes serve their unique purposes. As the philanthropic dimension of businesses becomes more mainstream and far more accessible than it might have been before, every company now has the power to give no matter its size or the phase it is going through.

What phase is your company at right now? Is it time to begin thinking about giving through your business? Let us know your questions in the comment section below too.

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About Estella

Estella joined B1G1 in 2019 as an intern after completing a university research project about buy-one-give-one models. As a super speedy learner, Estella supports the development of many projects in B1G1. She also shares her knowledge and insights on our blog, which we’re deeply grateful for.