Corporate social responsibility is a great thing. As well as the positive impact it bestows upon the charitable organisations you choose to support, it also demonstrates to your team and the wider community that your business is compassionate and is actively involved in making a positive change to the world, rather than being solely focused on the bottom line.

It can also help a company to be looked upon favourably by customers. It can help them to feel good about doing business with companies that help the community. This is why so many companies actively publicise their charitable endeavours.

Australians are a generous lot, ranking third in the world in the 2016 World Giving Index, our generosity only surpassed globally by Myanmar and the United States.

There are more than 54,000 registered charities in Australia alone, employing more than one million people, so deciding which one to support can be a challenging process.

What should I consider when choosing a corporate charity?

First of all, it’s a good idea to choose a charity which aligns with your company’s values. For example, if you are a publishing firm, you might want to support a charity that provides literacy skills to underprivileged children, or if you are a food manufacturer, you may want to support a charity that feeds the homeless or provides famine relief.

Of course, the connection does not need to be as direct as that, it should be a cause that your senior stakeholders feel passionate about and have some sort of connection to. Find out who your customers and investors support, if your charitable efforts align with their own you may form deeper connections.

It is also important to consider a charity that your staff will fully get behind, there may be team members with personal connections to a cause which you can support. Getting employee buy-in will also improve your fundraising efforts. Not only that, it will make you a more attractive prospect for would-be employees.

Discuss it with your staff and find out which causes are important to them. If you choose a charity based upon general consensus, rather than one dictated by the boss, it is much more likely to be successful. It will improve staff morale knowing they have an input to such an important part of the company’s operations, as well as giving them a sense of pride to be involved in something worthwhile.

What will the charity spend my money on?

Once you have decided on the charity you want to support, perform due diligence so that you can be confident that a significant proportion of the money you raise for them is going to improve people’s lives rather than be swallowed up by administrative costs.

Make sure they are a government registered charity and have a look for financial reports on the charity’s website to check where your money would be going. Support charities that are willing to offer disclosure of their activities and are transparent in terms of where funds are allocated.

Make sure that your charity is ethically managed and that funds are going to the projects they are supposed to. This can be more difficult to do when donating to charities overseas, so if you decide to go down that route, get involved with the projects you are supporting where possible.

Despite Australia being a prosperous nation, we are not without social problems. Homelessness Australia report that 12 per cent of Australians (over two million people) live in poverty. So consider local charities as well.

Ways you can support charities

Doing something worthwhile for a charity doesn’t have to mean getting your chequebook out. You can give back in the following ways:

time

Give each employee an annual charity day to volunteer their time at a charity of their choice

skills

Pro bono work is a great way to help a charity. What products or services does your company provide that could help a charity you want to support?

fundraising

A great team building opportunity as well as a way to help your chosen charity. Whether it is signing up for a local fun run, or organising an office bake sale.

It was Gandhi who once said, “be the change you wish to see in the world”. Giving to worthwhile causes is a great first step in that goal.

Visit Heart Kids to find out about Write Away’s chosen charity.

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