How much should businesses commit to giving back, what channels should they embrace for doing it, and how can they ensure they are doing it right?
Social good has become a popular buzzword and Christian business owners know that they are called to give, but how can you find the right balance and make sure efforts are perceived the right way, done with the right motivations and are effective.
The ???Doing Good Dilemma??? For Christian Business Owners
There are 3 major elements of this part of business planning for Christian business owners:
- Deciding how much to give back
- Deciding how to give back
- Deciding how much noise to make about it
So how much should businesses commit to giving back?
Christian entrepreneurs and CEOs are of course already familiar with the practice of tithing and most are likely fulfilling their part in giving God back the first 10% of all of their income. Of course for most giving is a blessing and 10% doesn???t seem like enough and when starting a business the question is raised whether the company itself ought to be giving back or paying forward more.
Proverbs 30:8-9 says ???Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, Who is the LORD? Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.???
With this perspective most would likely feel compelled to give more than 10%. Perhaps this means 10% personal tithing to their home church, another 10% of net profits to the business to faith based charity initiatives and keeping a pot for helping others as opportunities arise.
Crown Financial (the legacy of Larry Burkett???s ministry) suggests ???An alternative method might be to take one-tenth of the company stock and set up a Christian foundation with it, then set a goal to control the companys future growth and declare the dividends to Gods work.?
Done effectively and with the right heart, the more that can be used to help; the more of God???s glory shone into the world and more glory given to him. Some even go as far as 50%, though you shouldn???t cripple the business to give, or it won???t be around to help for very long.
Tips For Corporate Giving
There are many ways to give, help and pay it forward, so which is right for you and your organization?
As mentioned above some options include tithing from personal income, dedicating a percentage of net business profits and setting up a philanthropic foundation.
Many new business owners and executives also struggle with the decision of whether to organize as a non-profit, not-for profit, or to obtain tax-exempt 501c3 status or to spin off an extension of their existing businesses as one.
There can be benefits, but as we???ve seen recently any religiously affiliated organization can also be asking for persecution from the IRS and government. Some would also argue that with all the scandals, if there is any intent to take home any cash then the most transparent route is staying with for-profit status. Otherwise, when critics see you are taking home a six or seven figure paycheck from your ???not-for profit??? you???ll ruin everything you worked so hard for.
Additionally companies and independent professionals can keep a small fund or petty cash on hand for supporting those in emergency situations or simply reaching out when a need is seen.
Those that want to truly separate themselves from any doubt about their integrity can simply help to raise funds for other organizations. This can be in-store food drives, collecting donations or using social media platforms and influence to get others to give financial support. The only downside with is that there is no control over how well funds?? are used, and multiple layers of administrative and logistical support can mean the bulk of funds is eaten up before getting to those really in need.
Alternative Help For New Startups
The problem for many new startups is that while their goals and hearts are big they often have little revenue, and certainly little net profit for quite a while. Fortunately this doesn???t have to mean they are blocked from having a positive impact.
Considering following in the footsteps of socially minded startups like Toms shoes and others that give away product to those in need for every item purchased.
Or how about volunteering as a team which can come with many added networking and team building benefits?
Then there are those companies like Christian Processing which offer their service for less than other competitors but still give 25% of profits to charitable Christian initiatives.
Here at entrepreneur magazine, G-Code Magazine we went for a combination of volunteering and offering active help promoting other startups, while building up to fund and offer support services to other small businesses and entrepreneurs.
The Bottom Line
- Determine how and how much you will do and build it into your business plan
- Do it with a cheerful and eager heart
- Make enough noise to inspire others to do the same without boasting
- Look for ways to maximize the impact for those that need it most
- Stay faithful