Charity Can Help Bottom Line

tdcs

BERLIN
- It might seem obvious that charitable work or donations to a cause are good
things for small companies to do.

But
what about the ones that purposefully pair their altruism with hopes of
generating new business -does that negate the good will?

Business
owners who combine good deeds and good business don’t think so.

Rob
Basso and his company are deeply involved in charitable work. He has taken part
in boxing tournaments and given cash donations to many causes. And he helped to
found a network of business people who raise money for charity.

"We’ve
made it part of our marketing plan," said Basso, president of Advantage
Payroll Services in Hicksville, N.Y. "It raises awareness for your
company, that you are a good charitable player."

Companies
with products to sell can get free advertising by donating merchandise. B-tween
Productions, which markets Beacon Street Girls books, duffel bags, pillows and
other items, donates merchandise for silent auctions. That raises money for
charities, but it also helps to create a new audience for the books, which are
designed to boost girls’ self-esteem.

"We’re
doing well by doing good," said Bobbie Carlton, the Lexington, Mass.,
company’s marketing director.

Cbeyond,
an Atlanta-based voice-over Internet provider, engages in charitable activities
and also encourages employees to do the same, giving them $250 each a year to
donate to a charity, and also giving them eight hours off a year to devote to
charitable activities. Cbeyond also works with the Hands On Network, an
organization that coordinates volunteers in a variety of areas.

"It
helps our business. … When you’re involved in the community, it expands your world
and fills your soul," Chief Executive Officer Jim Geiger said of
charitable work. "We have better, more vibrant people in our
company."

A
company’s charitable work can have a link to its business-B-tween Productions,
for example, donates books to libraries. But even a cause chosen for an owner’s
personal reasons can still benefit the business.

Les
Kollegian, owner of Jacob Tyler Creative Group, a San Diego-based marketing
firm, focuses his company’s charitable work on groups aimed at fighting cancer;
his family has a history of the disease. "I’m sure that it benefits our
business in an ancillary way," he said, but added, "that’s not our
main purpose."

(The writer is a Merrill Lynch senior financial advisor. She can be
reached at 410-213-9084.) 

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