The Joys and Benefits of Incorporating Charitable Actions Into Regular Business Operations

There is the good feeling that comes with giving back, but your company can be a beneficiary in certain ways as well

The Joys and Benefits of Incorporating Charitable Actions Into Regular Business Operations

Shelton Plumbing owner Josh Shelton with his dad and founder of the company, John Shelton.

If there is one thing Josh Shelton has carried on since taking over Shelton Plumbing from his father, it’s being charitable and always lending a hand. 

“Over the years, my dad has helped out in many charitable ways,” says Shelton, owner of the company based in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. “We support local charities but have also been active by sending members of our team on disaster relief mission trips in the U.S. and around the world.” 

When a tornado hit Henryville, Indiana, in 2012, Shelton Plumbing joined with other members of a local plumbing firm and spent weeks clearing and helping the community recover. In 2011, when a tornado hit Rainsville, Alabama, the company helped install showers in conjunction with other plumbing firms for volunteers who did not have proper facilities. 

“Living a life of service is something we can take pride in,” Shelton says. “We gain the trust of people by just doing the best we can. We help out in many ways whenever we can.” 

Shelton Plumbing also went to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, following Hurricane Katrina to help rebuild homes. In 2010, after a massive earthquake in Haiti, the company sent some of its crew there to assist in school repairs and help supply more than 200 students with water filtration systems, food, school supplies and medical supplies. 

“I have paid a lot of attention to my father over the years and have been led by his example,” Shelton says.

While it’s important not to forget that the main driver behind charitable efforts is the simple act of giving without any expectation, there can be business benefits.

It’s a great way to build awareness and trust in your community.

Giving takes on a lot of forms for a business. One of those is sponsorships, which typically are for very specific events or items and they come with recognition. Think of it as an advertising budget with a cause. Whether it is a fun run, ballet or your kid’s soccer team, sponsorships create a ton of goodwill in your community.

It’s a morale booster.

You may be surprised how much your employees enjoy and appreciate the company giving back. For maximum impact, allow your team to have a say in where the giving budget goes. Knowing that you are making a financial impact in areas that mean something to them is a signal you actually care about them as human beings. When possible, allow employees to attend events and represent the company at related functions. They will never be so proud to wear your logo.

It will get you invited to the table.

Showing continued support for organizations is a surefire way to get invited to sit on a committee or a board of directors. If you can carve out the time, having a seat at these tables is a fantastic way to meet influencers in your community.

Just because your company is cash strapped doesn’t mean you can’t help or gain the rewards of being charitable. You can give in different ways, and each has its own set of unique benefits and opportunities. Here are four different ways your company can help a nonprofit:

  1. Cash Donations. Every organization needs cash resources to function. When you have it to give, often a cash donation is the best way to make an immediate impact. A true donation is given without any sort of benefit back to the company, allowing it to be tax deductible.
  2. Sponsorships. Much like a cash donation, you are often writing a check. In return though, you typically get an advertising benefit. Any “donation” you make that comes with recognition for your company might technically fall under this umbrella for tax purposes. Check with your accountant to see if it’s a donation or an advertising expense, but either way, it’s tax deductible.
  3. Service Donations/Skills Giving. When you work in a service industry, your skills have value. Those skills can be donated as an in-kind donation. This can be anything from a grant for plumbing services for a low-income family to “donating” a repair to a nonprofit directly. The tax benefit for these kinds of donations are minimal, but they tend to be excellent press opportunities.
  4. Employee Volunteer Hours. Aside from money, most nonprofits thrive on volunteers. Giving your employees the time to volunteer on the clock is an excellent way to give back and keep employees engaged. It also gives team members the opportunity to get involved with their community and become an ambassador for your company.

The vast majority of donations are given without any research. There is nothing wrong with giving to your pet project, but think about those residual benefits. Finding the right place to give can be influenced by several factors. Here are a few things to consider when deciding about exactly where you want to spend your giving dollars:

  • Go Hyperlocal. If the majority of your work happens within a single municipality or tight geographic region, making a difference in people you do business with every day can be very impactful. Keeping your money local when giving is a great way to spread the message that you believe in supporting local businesses and organizations. Hopefully that comes back threefold.
  • It’s About the Cause. Giving to a cause that aligns with your company mission sends the message that you’re deeply committed. For instance, a service contractor focused on residential might give to a housing organization. Or maybe you want to make a global impact and give to a clean-water initiative in underdeveloped countries.
  • What’s Important to Your Employees. If your employees or their families have been touched by illness or misfortune, one way to show you care is by aligning your giving with their passions. Finding an organization that supports the things that have most affected their lives is certainly a valid approach to giving. This can also create opportunities for great press coverage.
  • Is the Organization Right? Using a resource like is a great way to check and make sure the nonprofit you are supporting is worthy of your time and funds. The cause might be good, but the organization should be operated well too. A little research can also help avoid aligning yourself with a future scandal.

Of course, many times we give simply because we’re asked. An opportunity for a sponsorship or donation request comes across our desk and we shrug our shoulders and write a check. It’s fine to be reactionary when the opportunity is right, but a little planning can go a long way toward building your brand, your employee retention and easing your tax burden.

And despite any business benefit to your charitable efforts, don’t forget that ultimately it simply feels good to give back. As companies like Shelton Plumbing show, that remains a primary motivation.


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