In tough economic times, it can be increasingly difficult for companies to justify giving donations to non-profit or charitable organizations. As a start-up or small business, it can seem almost impossible to set aside money that could be used to grow your business. Still, there are many reasons why donating money to non-profits is a smart business investment, and there are many ways to take advantage of the benefits of working with non-profits even if you can’t find the room in your budget to simply write a check.

Sponsorships are one of the best ways to make your donation work for you. When non-profits host events, they ask for local businesses to sponsor to help cover expenses and raise funds. While there are many different sponsorship levels, almost all levels include your name and/or logo in promotional materials. By sponsoring a charity event, you get the extra marketing you need and the money for that marketing goes to a good cause.

Sponsoring has the added benefit of increasing your community presence and your reputation within the community. Community service and civic responsibility are huge factors for consumers when they are deciding where to take their business (just think of the booming success of the TOMS One for OneTM movement). Sponsoring will not only make community members aware that your business is in the community, it will make them aware that your business is good for the community.

If you feel that you just can’t spare the money for a sponsorship, you should still consider other options. Non-profits are often looking for materials to give out as prizes or in goodie bags. Consider donating your promotional materials (such as pens, key-rings, etc.) to get your name out there without the higher cost. Additionally, you could donate gift cards or vouchers for a free service. These give the opportunity for people to actually utilize your business without any cost to you.

Another good option to consider is volunteering as a company. Because many non-profits have a large number of business-affiliated volunteers, you will have an opportunity to do some networking. You can make new business contacts while impressing them with your community-oriented mindset.

As if the marketing and networking benefits of working with a non-profit weren’t enough, there are also benefits within your organization. Having a community-oriented business helps to boost worker morale and unite your employees. When they feel like they are working for a company that does the right thing, they are more likely to be happier at work and stick around longer.

Finally, although this may seem obvious, it is worth mentioning. Working with a non-profit helps to build a healthier community. And a healthier community means a healthier business for you.

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