Want to make more money? Give more it away.

Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Maybe, but charitable giving by your business is a small investment that can produce big returns. Now I’m not saying the only reason you should give to worthy causes is because you believe you’ll get something in return. I don’t know anyone in business who’s that cynical. But if giving was a drag on a business, then why is it that giving by corporations alone last year is estimated to be $18.5 billion?

My family and my business ventures support a number of great organizations, such as the National Breast Cancer Foundation, the Currey Ingram Academy, and Cul2vate – which helps to feed the hungry by growing food and growing people. We have other causes we support through my businesses, and there are advantages above and beyond how good it makes us feel.

Businesses donate to charities in a number of ways. Cash grants are always welcome, and putting a dollar figure out resonates with your customers and the public in general. Others donate goods directly to charities that are then sold to raise funds – and your business is credited. Then there are companies that give a certain percentage of the sales on a product to a worthy cause. That encourages people to either buy more from you or, if they aren’t customers already, to begin purchasing your goods.

Here are some of the pluses to having a corporate or business charitable giving program:

• Builds your brand awareness. Not only can you promote your good works; the organizations you donate to will also promote your brand.

• Builds goodwill within your community – Having a reputation for caring about the community makes people more inclined to support your business.

• Increases employee morale – According to a 2016 Deloitte study on volunteering, millennials were "twice as likely to rate their corporate culture as very positive" if their company participated in workplace volunteer activities. 

• Rallies important demographics to your cause – Speaking of millennials, studies have shown that they will rally behind causes they care about and will stand behind a brand that does the same. And 70% of millennials will spend more on brands that support causes. This is important because millennials represent $2.45 trillion in spending power.

• Develops leadership skills – Those participating in charity drives learn how to lead groups and/or committees, a skill that translates to their jobs within your company.

• Delivers free advertising – If you partner with a large charity, your business gets the advantage of name recognition associated with that charity. That organization probably has greater resources than you that you can leverage to promote your business.

• Attracts top talent – People want to work for a company that has a high profile of contributing to the community. Your reputation has to include more than just high sales to attract the best and brightest.

• Has tax advantages – Charitable contributions are tax-deductible. So while you’re reaping the above rewards for your generosity, you’re also getting a break on your tax bill.

If you want to begin a charitable giving program, though, always research the organizations you wish to support to make sure they’re legitimate. Also, discuss the project with your accountant or legal representative to ensure your generosity is properly set up to both your and the charity’s advantage.

Carly Layne