That was my full-time day job before I had my baby, went on mat leave and decided not to go back! I’m enjoying being able to stay involved in the sector, as I’d always loved doing my job – just not the 9-5, chained-to-an-office aspect of it…
Charitable giving is therefore a subject close to my heart, and inspired by Selfish Mother Molly Gun’s Insta post the other day about the AMAZING half a million squids+ that her #GoodTee’s have raised, I thought I’d blog about the ins and outs of involving a charity in your business.
A little bit about Molly first of all – her Selfish Mother #GoodTees were created with the idea that selling clothes shouldn’t just be about profit – they should do good, too! She created the first one in July 2014 to support Women for Women UK, and since then the #GoodTees brand has grown hugely and enjoys big social media followings on Facebook and Instagram.
Molly’s model is simple – they donate £10 per adult item and £5 per child’s item. These donations are divided between the following charities: Women for Women UK, Kids Charity, Help Refugees, The Refugee Council, Starlight UK, Yazda, Save The Children and Mothers 2 Mothers.
There are SO many good reasons to get involved in charity partnerships when you start out in business. Not only will you and your customers get to enjoy the fruits of your labour, but you’ll both be giving back to a worthy cause, who in turn will benefit = win/win/win!
So if you want to support a charity, how should you go about it?
Choosing who to support
First of all, consider charities that both you love and feel passionate about AND you think your target market want to support. If unsure – ask them! It needs to fit your brand as well as your own interests – so for example, you may love your pet – but will all your followers feel as passionately as you do about your donating a percentage of the charge you make for your Birth Hypnosis CDs towards Battersea Dogs Home? It may be better to choose a charity that fits the product better – so in this case it could perhaps be one related to the theme of calm and relaxation your product promotes – like a charity supporting sufferers of anxiety disorders or mothers with PND, or a children’s hospital or other birth-related cause.
How do you get a charity involved?
For starters, you don’t actually have to officially let the organisation you are supporting know what you’re up to – any charity would be more than happy for you just to make an unexpected donation via their website or Justgiving page. But I suggest getting in touch to let them know, in case they can support you in any way. It’s also good practice, as you don’t want to get in any hot water for using their logo or making it look like you have an ‘official’, approved partnership when you don’t.
Many charities (especially the larger ones) have staff dedicated to working with businesses – they help them by supporting the company’s ‘CSR’ or Corporate Social Responsibility policies. In laypersons terms, CSR is simply charitable activity – it’s the business giving back. As a start-up you may not think of what you’re doing as a ‘CSR’ strategy, but it helps to know that this is what charities know it as. If you’re calling or contacting a charity; ask to be connected with someone who you can talk to about donating as business and you’ll get put through to the right person. They’ll frequently expect companies to want something in return, so don’t feel bad asking if they have somewhere on their site where they can display your logo, or maybe link to your website. They may also want o do some press on you, which is always great support. Don’t feel bad about this – remember – it’s a partnership! Your success = more donations for them.
They will also be able to tell you how they would prefer you to donate, and help with any practical issues or questions you may have when it comes to making the donation.
How much to give
I would always recommend, especially when starting out, basing your contribution on a % of profits, NOT a fixed donation per sale or amount per year (despite that being the model that Molly uses in the GoodTee example I talked about earlier). I say that because you really don’t want to end up in the position of getting the numbers wrong, and your promised donation wiping out your profits and putting you out of business; due to an unexpectedly large tax bill or a long dry spell in sales with overheads still to pay. If you’re super confident in your numbers, then sure, go for it – otherwise I’d suggest playing it safe. Remember the best thing for any charity is long-term, committed, reliable donors. The worst thing for them is you not being able to stay in business and your donations stopping altogether, simply because your can’t make the numbers add up any longer!!
Believe me when I say, anything is appreciated by a charity – don’t think 10%, 5% or even 1% is too small. It doesn’t need to be a huge number, it still makes a difference. I’d also suggest making it a percentage of your profits that you give (rather than your turnover), so that if you do go with a higher figure like 15%, you can be certain ALL the bills are paid first before you also put that donation aside.
And just think – when Molly started out back in 2014, I bet she never imagined reaching over half a million donated!!
Startups that give back
I’m going to sign off with a few of my favourite small business startups who, just like Selfish Mother, also donate to charities, and are likewise run by amazing women – Winter and Rain (maker of the Lioness not Princess slogan tees and bags) and Big Purpose (home of some seriously fear-busting coaching programmes!). Both give a donation to charity when you buy from them, and both are beautiful brands in their own right. Here’s what business owners Selena and Tegan have to say about why they chose their charities:
I run my business as a social enterprise and for every coaching package that I sell, I donate a ‘Back-to-work’ package to a long-term unemployed person in my community. I believe that a rising tide should lift all boats and that you haven’t made it until everyone has made it.
– Tegan, Big Purpose Living
When I was five my Mother and I left Germany (my birth place) and moved to Kent. Women’s Aid helped us by finding us a women’s refuge. Although my memories of that time are few it has stayed with me forever. Women’s Aid work tirelessly to “build a future where domestic violence is not tolerated”. They help women and children to escape. I cannot begin to understand how much courage it takes to flee domestic violence, particularly with a child. By way of thank you to Women’s Aid, and a salute to every women who has found the courage to contact them, 15% of profits go directly to the charity.
– Selena, Winter and Rain
I’m looking into selecting a charity to support through Brand New Mum, and can’t wait to add a further social dimension to what I’m doing. I’m researching the many brilliant charities that offer support for new mothers at the moment. Any suggestions welcome! I hadn’t actually realised I’d end up combining my two areas of work like this – but I’m excited about doing it.
Let me know if you give to charity through your company, or are thinking of doing so. I’d love to know what charity you’d choose, and why.