Tips for Professional Advisors who serve Business Owners - Info clients need to know about corporate giving programs

Amy Jordan |

Many of your clients are involved with corporate giving in some way, whether as business owners, executives, or employees at companies that offer programs for community involvement and charitable giving.

Most of these clients have no doubt heard about Amazon Smile, a high-profile corporate giving program, is shutting down, to the disappointment of a lot of people. Since it launched in 2013, the Amazon Smile program has provided millions to various charities. Because the program was so easy to use, many smaller organizations were successful in rallying their supporters to sign up for Amazon Smile and direct donations to the organization.

For your clients who are executives and business owners, the news about Amazon Smile might have sparked renewed interest in corporate philanthropy, not only in large businesses, but also in small, local businesses. How much should a business allocate for charitable giving? How should the company decide where to make its charitable donations? To what extent should employees be involved?

If the company your client helps lead, or even perhaps owns, has a corporate giving program, it may be wise to suggest that the client dedicate time to evaluate potential tweaks. It could be time for your client to review the research on corporate giving best practices and evaluate how those tried-and-true principles apply to the company’s community involvement today. 

Here are three suggestions to pass along to your clients who are in corporate leadership roles:

Check in on strategy and process, including basic communications guidelines

If a company doesn’t have a strategy or system for prioritizing sponsorship requests, charity event invitations, and requests for donations, executives may want to consider putting this in place, whether it’s a simple verbal agreement among company leaders or something more formal such as a written plan. Sometimes, a charitable giving strategy is based on the owners’ values. Some companies seek employee input. Regardless, it is important to have at least a simple communications strategy for maintaining positive relations with the charities whose requests the company turns down, as well as requests from employees.

Consider structuring the program with an easy-to-use corporate donor-advised fund

A corporate donor-advised fund at the community foundation can help streamline the administrative load. All donations into and out of the corporate donor-advised fund are tracked in one place, making it easy to see which organizations have been supported historically. A corporate donor-advised fund also makes it possible for a company to plan ahead to be able to fully fund its charitable goals even in years when revenue is down. Reach out to the Hudson Community Foundation to learn more about how a corporate donor-advised fund could work for a client's company.

Make an effort to get the word out

Many companies are doing a lot of good, ranging from employee volunteer outings to food drives to monetary donations. Sometimes even employees are not aware of all of the charitable activities going on at their employer. The company could consider carving out 30 minutes every month to report on the company’s charitable endeavors, whether that’s simply an internal communication or a more public update on the company’s website or social media channels. Business owners and executives are often surprised at how much goodwill comes from simply celebrating the good the company is already doing.

As always, the team at the community foundation is here to help you and your corporate clients with charitable giving programs. We can help your clients set up a corporate donor-advised fund, establish donor-advised funds for executives and employees, collaborate on a philanthropic component of a business sale, and much more. There’s plenty to smile about!

With a fund at Hudson Community Foundation (HCF), advisors can manage the charitable assets on your preferred platform at any amountAssets stay under your management. You can provide your clients with the consistent investment advice they expect. We are your partner in charitable giving!

The team at HCF is a resource as you serve your philanthropic clients. We understand the charitable side and are happy to serve as a secondary source as you manage the primary relationship with your clients. This blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice.