Many accounting firms we work with have a strong reputation for giving back to their communities through volunteerism and donations. The list of deserving organizations is extensive and team members, clients, prospects and referral sources frequently give their time and money to a mission that is near and dear to them. At some point your firm may be asked to help support a particular mission, which is why having set guidelines for your charitable giving is beneficial.
Firms with one office may have a handle on their donation dollars and where they go, but firms with a multi-office environment and no existing policy may struggle to track the dollars and to build a strategy around their giving. Here are some tips to be more strategic in your charitable giving:
- People expect accountants to be mindful and tactical with their dollars. Saying yes to every organization that comes knocking is not the reputation you want to create. Be known for your thought process and making strong decisions with your dollars by creating guidelines for how you make decisions.
- Set an annual or quarterly budget amount and outline recurring donations you’d like to continue; the remaining dollars will be approved by one person or a small committee overseeing the budget. Develop criteria to assist in the selection process and ensure the missions align with those set by the firm. Create a script to politely decline or if approved, marketing instructions to help maximize your dollars.
- Develop community volunteerism projects within your office. Ask your team members to submit service project proposals with a paragraph identifying the need, then cast votes throughout the office. Create volunteerism activities for the entire office to join in. Collect donations from team members through a Jeans Day and match the funds from the firm.
- Promote your community involvement! Post pictures from activities on your website and social media sites. Spread the word about the organizations you’ve helped and their mission.
Too often, charitable giving can be confused with sponsorships and advertising, which results in budget items being lumped together. We highly recommend developing a policy for your sponsorship and advertising activities outside your charitable guidelines. Charitable giving is about giving back to the communities where your team and clients reside and should be an important initiative of the firm.