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By Roy Rasmussen Updated on October 27, 2021

Try These 8 Giving Tuesday Ideas for Small Businesses

Implementing Giving Tuesday ideas for small businesses helps your community as well as your company. 

Here are 8 ways to do it. First, we’ll look at what Giving Tuesday is and how it benefits charitable causes and companies. Then we’ll review 8 ways your company can participate in Giving Tuesday events, ranging from direct donations of resources to fundraisers and event hosting.

What Is Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday, stylized in social media hashtags as GivingTuesday, is an annual event that encourages generosity during the holiday shopping season. It falls 5 days after Thanksgiving, following Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

Giving Tuesday was created in 2012. It was sponsored initially by the 92nd Street Y, a New York City community and cultural center, through its Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact. Since then it has spun off into an independent nonprofit named after the event. 

It receives corporate support from a number of prominent organizations, including the Bill & Melinda Gate Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Fidelity Charitable, Ford, the Ford Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and PayPal.

What Are the Benefits of Giving Tuesday?

From a business perspective, the importance of Giving Tuesday includes benefits both to charity recipients and to business donors. For charitable organizations and the communities they support, Giving Tuesday represents an opportunity to benefit from the generosity of holiday shoppers. For businesses that support Giving Tuesday, the event offers a number of benefits, including:

  • Opportunities for businesses that give back to build brand awareness
  • Promoting a positive image with customers and communities
  • Encouraging cross-promotional spending over the holiday shopping season
  • Promoting engagement among employees who give
  • Eligibility for tax deductions for certain types of donations and expenses

These benefits make Giving Tuesday a win-win proposition for both charity recipients and businesses.

One hand reaches out to give a gift box labeled “Giving Tuesday” to another hand.

How to Run a Giving Tuesday Campaign: 8 Ideas

To support Giving Tuesday, companies can participate in many ways. Some of the best Giving Tuesday ideas include:

  1. Giving a percentage of sales
  2. Donating goods
  3. Donating services
  4. Volunteering time
  5. Promoting charities
  6. Running fundraisers
  7. Hosting benefit events
  8. Holding contests

Here are some tips on how to put these Giving Tuesday suggestions into practice efficiently and effectively.

1. Donate a Percentage of Sales

One simple way to participate in Giving Tuesday is by donating a percentage of sales to charity. When shoppers know part of their spending is going to charity, it can motivate them to participate.

You can select a single charity for donations, or you can give customers the option of choosing from multiple charities. Offering multiple options can give customers a sense of more active engagement in Giving Tuesday events.

To promote sales that can be donated to charity, you can use Giving Tuesday posts on your blog and social media profiles. For example, you can announce target donation goals and keep your followers updated on progress.

You may wish to mention that some Giving Tuesday donations may be tax-deductible. See the website of the Internal Revenue Service for details on the deductibility of consumer charitable contributions as well as business charitable donations. If you intend to claim deductions, be sure to track any donations you make.

2. Donate Goods

Another way to give is by donating goods to charity. Charitable recipients can include organizations such as food pantries, retail thrift stores and women’s shelters. Business organizations such as disadvantaged small businesses are another option.

Donated items can include practical consumer goods such as food, clothes and toiletries as well as business goods such as office supplies. Goods can come from your own inventory, from employees, from your customers or from suppliers.

To encourage employee and customer participation, you can place a drop-off box in or outside your store. For tax purposes, track the value of any goods you donate from your own resources. If you donate items from your inventory, be sure to update your inventory count and accounting records to reflect changes.

3. Donate Services

Another method of supporting charity is by donating services. These can be consumer services or business services. For example, a transportation company might donate free rides to elderly shoppers, while an accounting firm might donate a limited amount of free year-end tax preparation help. Similarly, recipients can be consumers or businesses.

Donation of services can be handled directly by your business. Alternately, it can be coordinated through a charitable partner. Working with a charity may help you locate recipients who need the services you offer.

Note that unlike the value of goods, the value of services donated isn’t tax-deductible. However, you may be able to deduce the cost of certain expenses incurred while donating services, as tax software provider Intuit explains. For example, you may be able to deduct gas mileage costs.

4. Volunteer Time

An alternative to donating goods or services is volunteering time to charitable work. For example, you can offer employees the option of taking paid time off to work a certain number of hours at a charity selected from an approved list. This type of activity not only helps charitable causes, but can improve employee engagement by combining time off from regular work with meaningful volunteer work.

Employee volunteer programs can be developed in cooperation with the charities you choose to support. Determine how many hours you wish to allocate employees for charity work. To avoid pressuring employees or triggering resentment, make volunteering voluntary, not mandatory.

5. Promote Charities

Another way businesses can participate in business charity partnerships for Giving Tuesday is by helping promote charitable organizations using your marketing resources. Your support can ease the marketing burden on charitable partners, alleviating their costs while helping them attract support.

A simple way to do this is by using space on your website and social media profiles to mention charities you’re partnering with. If you’re using some of the other methods mentioned above to support a charity, you can post videos of your activity as a way of promoting charitable causes. For example, employees who are volunteering time might be filmed working with the charity and describing their experience.

6. Run a Fundraiser

Running fundraisers is another way companies can support charitable causes during Giving Tuesday. Both employees and customers can be invited to participate in fundraisers.

You can promote your fundraiser through your blog and Giving Tuesday posts on social media. Set the example by making a corporate donation. Your donation may be tax-deductible, so remember to record it in your books.

Implementing Giving Tuesday ideas for small businesses helps your community as well as your company.

7. Host a Benefit Event

An engaging variation on fundraising is hosting Giving Tuesday events designed to benefit charitable causes. 

Benefit events can include:

  • Dinners
  • Sporting events
  • Concerts
  • Dances
  • Art exhibitions
  • Auctions
  • Talent shows
  • Runs and walks

You can promote your benefit event through your own marketing channels and through your charitable partner’s resources. Money spent on your own marketing resources may be tax-deductible.

8. Hold a Contest

You can engage employees and customers in your Giving Tuesday events by introducing a contest. 

For example, you can designate an amount to be donated and provide a list of charities to vote on. The vote results decide where the money will go. Alternately, you can award money to all charities on the list but have larger amounts for first, second and third place.

Note that this type of contest doesn’t necessarily need to end on Giving Tuesday. You can launch your contest on Giving Tuesday but continue it throughout the holiday shopping season.

Get Involved in Giving Tuesday Campaigns to Benefit Your Community and Company

Giving Tuesday encourages generosity during the holiday shopping week that begins on Thanksgiving. It provides an opportunity for companies to give back while gaining promotional and tax benefits. 

Companies can participate by donating a percentage of sales, goods, services or time. Moreover, businesses can lend a hand with charitable promotions, fundraising and hosting promotional events such as benefits and contests. 

Use these Giving Tuesday campaign examples to inspire your own unique ideas for lending your company’s support to the charity of your choice.

Roy is a respected, published author on topics including business coaching, small business management and business automation as well as an expert business plan writer and strategist.
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