Essential Small Business Giving Guide

Essential Small Business Giving Guide
Essential Small Business Giving Guide
June 11, 2021
Employee Giving

Charitable donation trends and 5 tips for small and medium companies

The business benefits of being a “socially good” company are clear. According to research by Deloitte, purpose-oriented companies grow three times faster on average than their competitors. Moreover, they report 30% higher levels of innovation and 40% greater employee retention.i While these rewards apply to all companies, small businesses are uniquely positioned to gain value from giving back to their communities. Donating to local causes allows a small business to boost brand awareness and community goodwill while making connections with potential customers and partners.

The right giving and volunteering solution for small and mid-sized businesses

It shouldn't take a lot of time or effort for you to start making a difference. Bright Funds makes it easy to do good with an experience your employees will love. Even better - you can set it up in less than a day!

Learn more ➔

Small business workplace giving

Small business giving tip 1 – Make a local impact

Small businesses donate 250% more than larger businesses to local nonprofits and community causes.ii In fact, as shown in the chart below, the top three cause areas that small businesses give to are local charities, youth organizations and support for local first responders:

top causes that small businesses give to
Image credit: SCORE

The key is to choose causes that are meaningful to your company and align with your mission and values. For example, a zoo may want to donate to local conservation causes while a nursing home could support charitable services for the elderly. The article “How to Create an HR Policy for Your Giving Program” provides more guidance on how to define your philanthropy mission and program. Once you have decided which causes your company will support, nurture the relationship going forward. Find ways to engage with the charities on an ongoing basis through volunteering, event, speaking and co-marketing opportunities.

Small business giving tip 2 – Give generously

Although it may seem like small businesses lack the resources to give as generously as large companies, the opposite is true. A Chronicle of Philanthropy survey of the 300 largest companies on the Fortune 500 list found that they typically gave about 1% of their profit to charity.iii By contrast, according to data compiled by SCORE, 75% of small businesses donate an average of 6% of their profits to charity annually.ii

small businesses give 6 percent of profit to charity
Image credit: SCORE

Moreover, small businesses are accelerating their generosity. The following analysis by financial services firm Divvy shows that small businesses responded to the events of 2020 with increased giving:

small business giving YOY 2019-2020
Image credit: Divvy

Your giving program can actually help drive business growth if you are a small business. For example, a restaurant could attract diners with a campaign to donate 5% of its profits for any given month to a local charity. Or a professional services company could offer new customers a gift of a $25 donation to the charity of their choice.

Small business giving tip 3 – Engage your employees

The most successful programs are employee driven. Ensuring that your staff is involved in your workplace giving program will help strengthen your ties to the community, boost morale and improve skills. In fact, 93% of employees who volunteer are happy with their employer.ii

smb volunteering - employee engagement
Image credit: SCORE

An all-in-one workplace philanthropy solution like Bright Funds makes it easy to engage your employees. You can focus your giving and volunteering on the cause areas that are most relevant to your business, your employees and your customers. And with features like employer matching, payroll integration, curated funds of nonprofits, volunteer tracking and credit grants, you can launch your program in days rather than weeks. For additional guidance on how to set up employee engagement tactics in your program, read “How to Create an HR Policy for Your Giving Program.”

Small business giving tip 4 – Do your homework

As a small business, you may not have the internal resources for due diligence, but it’s a critical step. You want to make sure that you are complying with all the relevant laws and taking advantage of any tax breaks. For example, the CARES Act passed last year increased the limit on charitable deductions for corporations.

You may also be worried about whether the charities your employees want to donate to are legitimate. Bright Funds advocates for open choice as a best practice because employees that are empowered to choose the causes they want to help will be more engaged. At the same time, we understand that companies may want to feature certain nonprofits from time to time that align with their mission, values or brand. Either way, you’ll want to make sure that your giving platform only contains legitimate charitable organizations. With Bright Funds, you can rest easy knowing that all of the organizations on the platform are verified 501(c)(3) nonprofits (or the equivalent for non-US).

Small business giving tip 5 – Simplify your launch

Bright Funds makes it easy to do good with an experience that your employees will love. You can set it up in less than a day with all the features you need to get your program going including:

  • Employee giving (one time and recurring donations)
  • Employer matching donations
  • Support for any 501(c)(3) nonprofit (and over 500k non-US)
  • Plan, share and join volunteer events in your local community + track volunteer hours
  • Custom campaigns to support causes that matter most to your workforce
  • Rapid response for time-sensitive issues or causes (over 98% customer satisfaction ratings)
  • Monitor employee engagement and impact with real-time reporting
  • Low fees after a no risk 30-day free trial
  • Integrations with many payroll, HRIS, volunteering and other systems

SMB benefits Bright Funds

What customers say about Bright Funds:

  • “We got quality and speed with Bright Funds.”
  • “It’s so easy to use that there's no time commitment for me to learn a new tool.”
  • “[Creating a Bright Funds campaign] was very intuitive and easy to set up!"
  • "Outstanding customer service."

Learn more about how Bright Funds can help your small business launch a workplace giving program by scheduling a demo today.


i Deloitte, How brands that authentically lead with purpose are changing the nature of business today,
ii PR Newswire, Small Business Charitable Giving Produces Big Impact on Communities Nationwide, Jan 2019;
iii Fast Company, Big companies donate a smaller percentage of their income than regular people, Sept 2018.
iv Divvy, How are small businesses giving back in 2020?, Dec 2020.