How To Build A Charitable Giving Program Even When You're A Young Company

How To Build A Charitable Giving Program Even When You're A Young Company

September 2016


When your startup is young and you’re undeniably busy, it’s difficult to think about anything beyond securing funding, building a customer base and gaining market share. Yet, as companies move from startup to maturity, there are points of tension that companies feel, especially pertaining to company culture, that must also be addressed.

Setting policies and programs that further a company’s culture is vital. As a startup, you have to start small, and inevitably those cultural add-ons often become the Ping-Pong tables, the food perks and Guitar Hero over the noon hour. Although fun perks that bring balance and enjoyment to the workplace are important, cultural policies that seem too “sophisticated” for startup companies are often overlooked – like charitable giving.

With the shift in today’s business culture, companies that are charitable often have better reputations. Additionally, with the millennial workforce being increasingly picky on where they choose to work and live, their push toward making a difference and being connected to positive impact forces companies to do differently. And beyond the shifting business culture toward social responsibility, charity and giving are even known to psychologically make people happier.

Happier workforce, more productive company, better place to work – seems convincing, right? But acting on this knowledge is where many companies often get hung up. Charitable giving and creating a generous culture do not have to be difficult, and through actionable steps startups can enjoy the benefits of making a difference in the world through philanthropy.

  1. Start Small
    No, you’re not going to be able to give a million-dollar charitable gift to a philanthropic foundation or notable cause in your first year – but don’t let that stop you from doing something. Companies and individuals alike often fall into the trap that if you can’t do it big, you can’t do it at all. This is false. Start small, give slowly, but give where it matters and where there is meaning. This commitment to giving even in the early days will make a long-term difference in your company’s culture.
  2. Set Goals
    Make your goals in building a charitable giving program scalable and attainable. Whether this is an employee giving program or one gift per year that you pool your funds toward, set a goal that you can reach as a company. Goal setting will help you build your giving as you build your company, and this will be a success in itself. Reaching your goals as they pertain to charitable giving means bettering the world, a life or your community. Whenever goals toward charitable giving are met, this is means for huge celebration, no matter how big or small the gift.
  3. Ask Questions
    Just like any other employee program or company initiative, there are ways to do it right and do it wrong – and it’s the same for charitable giving. Reach out to companies in your industry and see what has worked for them. Was it pooling funds toward one specific cause? Matching employee gifts? Or perhaps it was one initiative per year in the early days – either way, it will benefit your company and your giving program to talk with others and learn to do it right.
  4. Tie To Your Mission
    In starting small and starting early, one of the easiest ways to institute charitable giving in your company is to align your giving with your company’s mission. If you are a technology company, perhaps donating funds, equipment or education to area schools is a good place to start. If you are a small business or coffee shop, consider donating food or donating goods to a local shelter. The list goes on and on, and you can be creative too. Looking at benefit corporations and social enterprises in your industry or city may also give you great ideas about how to align your revenue-producing business with worthy causes.

In a 2015 Survey with America’s Charities, it was found that 70 percent of companies surveyed felt their employees expected them to be socially responsible. This is no shocker – you will be doing better for the world and better for your employees by instituting a charitable foundation to your business, no matter how small.

It’s never too late to start, but make sure to start somewhere. You’ll learn along the way, and ultimately, you’ll bring more meaning to your company and the people who choose to work for you.


This article was written by Tori Utley from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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