Now that your business has grown, you finally have the resources available to start giving back to a charity or cause you support. Choosing the right organization that aligns with your values and beliefs the most, however, can be a time-intensive task that may require some research and consultation with your team.
Eight entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) share how they evaluate the right cause to support and the steps they take towards identifying it.
1. Seek out a personal connection.
Find something that feels personal to you. There are many great organizations out there, but finding something that is a match to your history and values will make you more engaged in the organization and allow you to better contribute. After a trip to Kenya, I started to donate to and volunteer for Samburu Youth Education Fund, as I personally know the families and kids it's impacting.--Kayla Wagner Faires, Revel Interactive
2. Do your research. Then engage your team.
First, check CharityNavigator to see how much money each charity uses for its stated cause instead of for marketing, fundraising and overhead. Some charities give as little as 70 percent of the funds they receive to their cause. Once you have a shortlist of charities, involve your team. Find out what causes they care about, and pick one (or more) that everyone feels good rallying around.--Brittany Hodak, ZinePak
3. Go local.
People are suffering from compassion fatigue. So many causes, so many problems -- it can feel overwhelming. In some cases, the bigger the nonprofit, the less you see your money at work, so consider donating to a local organization tackling a local problem. Not only can you get involved by giving money, you can also engage your team to donate time. Giving of oneself is often the best heart-warmer.--Erin Weed, evoso inc.
4. Look at the ROI.
As a savvy entrepreneur, you're used to focusing on ROI. Do the same for causes you support: look at the impact of each dollar and how to stretch it to maximize your return. We love microloans, since they are repaid and can be lent out again and again. We also helped build and support a school in Tanzania after doing our research (including going there!). Do what lights you up, and look at the ROI.--Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World
5. Develop a personal mission statement.
Just as your company mission statement guides the activities of the business, a personal mission statement guides the activities of your personal life. Develop a personal mission statement, and then identify causes that resonate with that mission. Find those causes that ignite your passion and donate and/or participate. And above all else, just start: avoid paralysis by analysis.--Christophor Jurin, Construct-Ed, Inc.
6. Find your passion.
Find something that aligns with what you're passionate about. Make sure it is an organization that you want to be involved with long term. I founded a nonprofit called Closet Angels and all the proceeds go towards St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. It feels great to have the chance to give back to the community and to be a part of something bigger than yourself.--Jayna Cooke, EVENTup
7. Start your own charitable cause.
I always recommend that a founder add a charitable component to their operations. At CoachUp, we have a program called CoachUp Cares. Through CoachUp Cares, we run inner-city basketball clinics and give away scholarships to deserving underprivileged students. Investing in a charitable program sets a great example for your team. It also creates goodwill and positive energy in the office. --Jordan Fliegel, CoachUp, Inc.
8. Ask your staff for recommendations.
Try polling your staff. See if they have a cause that brings them that same level of passion. Limit your scope to one or two groups that really resonate. We've been making donations to the San Diego Humane Society for years now, all based on one employee's suggestion. It's a great way to not only contribute to a good cause, but to help the whole team feel a sense of ownership with the company.--Jason Kulpa, Underground Elephant