As a small business owner with limited time and resources you can still find ways to support your favorite causes and reap personal, tax, and business benefits. You'll find your efforts personally rewarding. Tax deductions are available for substantiated out-of-pocket costs. And valuable business connections and goodwill can be generated. Here are some ideas you may want to use this summer and in the months to come:
- Vacationing as a volunteer. Lending your expertise or doing physical labor in support of a charity may be personally rewarding. For example, work on homes for Habitat for Humanity or help build a youth center in on a Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. Find more volunteer opportunities from the Global Volunteer Network.
- Providing your expertise. Help a local organization with your talents (e.g., a lawyer can provide advice pro bono).
- Serving on the board of a non-profit organization. You get to know others who serve on the board.
- Serving on committees in organizations. Again, you get to know others who serve on the committees. Choose a committee that you have an interest in and one you may have a special talent for (e.g., a CPA serving on a finance committee).
- Fundraising. Soliciting funds, selling raffle tickets, working galas and other fund-raising events, and soliciting corporate sponsors for special events are other ways to help your charity while making connections and having a good time.
Whether or not you personally get involved, you can support charitable activities through company actions, including:
- Giving staff time off for charitable activities. Paid time that enables employees to pursue charitable activities can be appreciated by your staff -- and the charities. If summer is a slow time for business, you can engender goodwill by allowing employees to donate time to a charity (but set limits for this amount of paid time off).
- Doing company charitable work. For example, you may be able to host a blood drive at your company or within the building where you operate. Or your staff as a group may support a particular charitable activity in the community, which likely will garner goodwill when the event is publicized.
- Donating unused inventory. If you can no longer use certain items because they have become dated, they may still generate a tax deduction for your company. Tax rules for charitable donations of inventory can be found in J.K. Lasser's Small Business Taxes 2015 and in IRS Publication 526.
Cash donations are always appreciated, but personal efforts should not be minimized. Think about how charitable activities can fit into your business plans.