Stepping up in a down economy

This year’s balance sheet is different than you expected. You’re trying to stretch every corporate dollar to address the bottom line issues of your company. You’re being more frugal this year than in years past.

Meanwhile, you probably have an inbox of worthy requests from nonprofit organizations asking for help.

What’s to be done with these challenges? Is it possible to ‘step up’ even when the economy is down?


There are some strategies that a community-minded company can use to make a difference, even while working harder to make payroll.



Pledge your cash gift, but stretch it as a payable over more than one year. Assume you still want to donate $5,000 to your favorite nonprofit organization. Instead of giving the full $5,000 in 2008, give a portion of it and pledge the balance for 2009.


Match your employees’ gifts with a corporate donation, thus doubling your company’s impact to charity. Instead of funding new charities, pool your company’s donations with your employees’ donations, thereby supporting your employees and stretching your own allocation.

Space on your company website

Provide free banner space on your own website for your favorite charity. It won’t cost much, but the exposure and subtle endorsement for the charity may mean even more than a cash gift.

Products and services

Contribute the products and services your company produces. Even if it’s a service such as dry cleaning or legal counsel, often a nonprofit organization can bundle that service with other items into a desirable charitable auction item.


Offer your board room or conference room for meetings and events. Maybe your production space could be used on weekends for volunteers building play structures. Be creative – your facilities are assets, too.

Volunteer hours

Allow your employees to use some of their hours for community service volunteering. Perhaps you account for your employees’ time as ‘billable’ to relevant projects and overhead. Allocate a certain number of overhead hours to be used charitably.

You will be paying your employees for that time anyway and this way you can support them and the nonprofit organizations they value.

Your impulse to help your community is laudable, but you still have a company to run. Being thoughtful and a little imaginative allows you to step up and continue your commitment as a good corporate citizen, even in a year like this one.

Nancy Hales is President of the Hales Group Inc., a local consulting firm that helps families plan and manage their family foundations. She can be reached at 360-904-8349.


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