Modern business owners understand that their legacy has to be measured in more than a profit margin. A corporate giving program allows your company to have an impact on your community and world. These sorts of humanitarian commitments can generate greater loyalty among customers and shareholders.

According to one survey, corporate giving exceeded $21 billion in 2019. While the global pandemic destabilized many business activities, many companies are coming out of the other side with a renewed focus on giving back. 

As a controller, you’ll play a special role in managing your company’s charitable programs. With this in mind, we’ve crafted a quick guide to managing corporate philanthropy in your workplace.

Actively Promote Charitable Giving

First, you’ll need a strategy for promoting your corporate philanthropy program. In most cases, you can leverage existing channels to raise awareness about your company’s charitable initiatives. 

For instance, you could share the goals and strategy behind your giving program in your corporate newsletter or through email marketing campaigns aimed at supporters.

Companies can also use electronic tools to promote corporate giving, using strategies such as:

  • Creating a “ways to give” page on the company website
  • Create a dedicated “matching gift” page (where applicable)
  • Sharing this content through social media channels

These strategies will help you reach a larger set of supporters, making it easier for your company to raise outside funds and promote your program.

Educate Members on Corporate Philanthropy

Controllers might play a special role in educating company members about the nature and purpose of corporate giving. Controllers might also express to management the ways that philanthropic initiatives can serve the broader purpose of the organization or how charitable programs can benefit your company as a whole.

Some companies even develop some sort of charitable involvement board that can provide further guidance on how to direct charitable donations. Controllers can provide guidance to this board by communicating how corporate philanthropy fits into the company’s larger financial health and budget.

Implement Corporate Philanthropy Software

Like any other financial activity, there’s a software package that can help you. Corporate giving software can help you perform a variety of tasks, including:

  • Managing your donor database
  • Managing donations
  • Determining eligibility requirements
  • Adhering to deadlines
  • Storing forms and related guidelines

These tools also add an additional layer of accountability to your company’s program, ensuring that information and resources are only available to authorized personnel.

Consider Volunteer Grants

Many companies encourage their employees to get directly involved in volunteer work. In some cases, this volunteer time is a function of your company’s payroll, much the same way as you might handle vacation days or sick leave. 

In these instances, controllers can play a role in ensuring that the company’s larger budget can accommodate these measures to encourage the giving employee time.

But in other cases, you may be able to take advantage of volunteer grants. This is especially true if you partner with another company whose values mirror your own. Sometimes these companies will even offer team volunteer grants, which means that if a team of employees from your company volunteer for a set number of hours, your company may be eligible for a grant.

The details, of course, fall into the hands of your financial department. As a controller, you’ll be responsible for ensuring that any eligibility requirements and deadlines are satisfied.

Leverage Peer-to-Peer Matching Programs

Controllers are undoubtedly familiar with corporate matching programs, where a company agrees to match an employee’s charitable contributions. 

Peer-to-peer matching programs work a bit differently. Employees might leverage their own relationships with family and friends, getting them to pledge donations based on their performance in an event, such as a walk-a-thon or cycling event.

The point is that these types of programs have greater potential to raise more funds than relying solely on the company’s matched donations. 

Controllers should be actively involved in managing these funds and funneling resources into their company’s broader philanthropic programs.

Plan Ahead for Tax Season

Perhaps most significantly, controllers will need to prepare themselves and their companies for tax season. Corporate philanthropy will entitle your company to tax deductions, but you will need to understand the eligibility requirements and plan your corporate tax filings appropriately.

For instance, the way your company is structured will impact your ability to take tax deductions. C corporations can only deduct 10% of their income, while an S corporation can deduct up to 60% of their adjusted gross income for cash contributions.

Controllers will also need to pay attention to the dates of contributions and the ways that they can impact their accounting system. In accrual accounting, a charitable gift may be treated as paid during the taxable year as long as the funds are received prior to the 15th day of the third month following the close of the tax year.

The Challenge and Reward of Corporate Philanthropy

Corporate giving is both a challenge and a reward. Controllers can supervise these programs to maximize their company’s broader impact and contribute not only to a bottom line, but also to the greater good.

Discuss the Future of Corporate Philanthropy in Our Community

Looking to learn more about corporate philanthropy? Controllers Council is a national community and platform of Controllers, Accounting and Finance professionals focused on accounting best practices, information and resources, recognition and networking. Membership has many features and benefits to propel your career and expertise, and to be an active participant in our exciting community. Discuss topics like the CPA licensure and more in our forum. Become a member today.

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