hurricane harvey

A Guide to Corporate Financial Giving – Part 14 min read

Corporate Financial Giving, A desire for more:

As a business owner or leader you have probably contemplated better systems for making a positive financial impact in the lives of your staff, your community, your country, or the world. Today I am sharing with you our plan for corporate financial giving in the hopes it is helpful and/or inspiring to you in your journey of giving back.

Hurricane Harvey - Worse that Katrina. A call to Corporate Financial Giving
Damage from Hurricane Katrina. Credit: Business Insider

Today’s blog was inspired by CablesAndKits‘ financial contribution to the relief efforts after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. It occurred to me that it took us many years to develop our plan for corporate giving and that our journey might be helpful to share with others.

Before I go any further I want to be clear that this blog is in no way meant to be boastful. I simply desire to be helpful, useful, and inspirational by sharing how we handle corporate financial giving and the path we took to get here. I hope you find value in this post. Perhaps by learning more about our journey you will gain clarity on issues you have or may experience in the future of your business.

Lack of a plan results in herky jerky behavior:

Over time we have sought ways as an organization to make the process of corporate financial giving more predictable and purposeful. We also desired for our giving to be less burdensome while remaining flexible enough to allow immediate response to needs as they arise. We didn’t want to simply respond to every need in the moment with no consideration for how it fits into a larger plan, nor did we want to sit on our hands and do nothing due to lack of clarity on how to do so in a financially responsible way.

Our giving used to be pretty sloppy, and that’s an understatement. If we felt that profit and cash flow were healthy, we would write big checks with a big and compassionate heart to a great need or cause as they came to our attention. Or, if things “felt” a little tight we might pass over the opportunity to give to a cause for fear of not being able to afford it. It was always herky jerky and either felt like we were acting blindly, perhaps giving beyond our means, or being too reserved and not giving enough.

Corporate Financial Giving: Which way is the right way?
Which way is the right way?

Lack of a plan results in “The Big Year End Check”:

With lack of systems for corporate financial giving, the bulk of our giving tended to be done at the end of December when we understood “how the year panned out”. With the exception of small opportunities, we felt we had to wait until the end of the year if we wanted to give anything substantial. The sad thing is that because we waited until the end of the year to see how things panned out, we may also have spent the cash along the way on increasing inventory, buying machinery, etc. So, even though on paper we had the profitability to give from, we may not have had the cash because we didn’t plan well.

In December we would have a meeting of mind, heart, and CPA and scramble to find a balance of what we WANTED to give and what we COULD give.  Then, do so before the end of the year so we didn’t miss the tax deduction opportunity. That created rushed decisions that in many cases were not the best on many levels.

Corporate Financial Giving: Haste makes Waste
Haste Makes Waste

We thought: There has to be a better way to do this!

We realized that the wild swings in our giving were not at all aligned with how we wanted to be able to confidently and intelligently respond to needs as they arose. So, we started making changes to our giving plans and processes which made the cash impact of giving more predictable, and the process of giving more enjoyable.

In the following two posts I will explain how we defined our corporate financial giving plan, and then how we defined the guidelines for giving which narrowed our focus and created alignment around our purpose of positively impacting the lives of others.

Craig Haynie

A Guide to Corporate Financial Giving

Part 1 – A Desire for More
Part 2 – Defining a Financial Plan for Corporate Giving
Part 3 – Defining Guidelines for Corporate Financial Giving

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