These days, it seems that giving is a competitive sport. It is no longer “poor form” to be asked to give for a variety of causes in the oddest places.
Grocery Store Checkout: Would you like to donate $1 to...?
Sub Shop: Would you like to round up your order to the nearest dollar to benefit...?
Facebook: Can you contribute to this Go Fund Me site to help...?
As a business, it’s even more competitive as causes and non-profits reach out on a weekly basis. Don’t get me wrong, I love giving as an individual and we love giving as a company. Winston Churchill said it best, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
Those are powerful words, but the true power really does come from giving. But in a culture with so many great causes and with technology and social media creating ease of access to those causes, how do we decide where to invest our resources?
TechSeven is a small company, but our goal is to give BIG, a relative term we know (considering our size-smiles). So, how do we do that? When do we say Yes? What does giving look like for us as a company and a team of individuals? These are questions we know others have faced, especially in the infancy of their organization.
We definitely don’t have it perfected, nor do we think there is a Giving Model that will work for all companies. Having said that, we thought we would share our journey and the what, where, when behind our small business (smb) giving. Please don’t misunderstand, we have personal motives for giving just like other businesses. We want brand exposure, tax-deductions, and networking leverage opportunities, but motives only serve as a portion of the considerations we use when choosing how to give.
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”
Sporadic Giving – The Early Years
When we first started TechSeven, the thought of giving was frightening. We had less than nothing and had gone out on a proverbial limb of high debt with little income as new business owners. The best we could give was our time and talents. That worked in our annual budget (smile), and we were just excited to give back in any way we could.
After a couple of years, we were able to say “yes” more as we received requests to for various monetary giving opportunities. At that point, giving was sporadic, unplanned, and on a first-come first-served basis so to speak. We wanted to give as a business, but didn’t feel we had the sea legs to actually plan in advance.
Intentional Giving – A New Journey
In late 2015, we began our annual planning for the new year and had an “Aha” moment of sorts. We realized we were not being intentional when it came to giving. We began to understand that it didn’t matter what stage of business we were in. It didn’t even matter what our giving looked like. What did matter is that we be as intentional with our giving plan as we are with our business plan.
So we identified two things:
- What Do We Have To Offer?
- Time – we can give our time as a team by volunteering.
- Talent – we can use our skills and talents to provide help and services.
- Resources – we can give monetary resources and products.
This sounds simple, but identifying the abilities and resources at our disposal enabled us to plan for their use. In our slower months, time is more readily available (volunteer work), but in our busy months, products and monetary giving make more sense.
- Who Do We Give To?
We identified two main factors that were important to our company’s culture for giving.
- Team Driven – It’s hard to decide where to give with the sheer number of worthy causes and organizations. We realized if we were going to ask our team to take part in this giving venture, then they should have a say in where we put our focus. When we shifted to a team-driven giving model, it became easy to tap into the very best of our team’s passions and abilities.
- Local Giving- we are a local business who wants to give back in the communities we work in. This has always been important to us as a company from the start. Identifying local companies has been easy, but we have taken it a step further to find companies that have a local AND National or Global impact. The Lunch Project and 24 Foundation are great examples of this.
I hope the takeaway from this article proves not to be a how-to on giving, but simply a reminder to give with a plan in mind. Our giving may look different each year, and our goals will change, but we will continue to revisit the vision and culture set for TechSeven Partners and be intentional every step of the way.
Below we have listed a few of the organizations we are focusing on this year. Click on the image to be directed to their website or contact us for more information on how to get involved with these great non-profits.