It’s often said it is far better to give than it is to receive. If that’s true, why do we, as a culture, seem to concentrate most of our giving efforts during the traditional holiday season? Especially businesses. Think about it… the toy drives and calls for canned foods, we don’t see those in offices nearly as often throughout the year as we do from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

We, as businesses, should and can do better than this. As we embark on a new year and a chance for a fresh start, here’s why it’s important, why we in the funeral industry (above many others) should better understand, and some ways we can all make a better effort in 2018 and beyond.

The “why” we give back really should be the easy part. There are a multitude of reasons, even if you already give personally. On a purely practical note, there are the tax implications, though they certainly are ever-changing these days. There are also the networking benefits that can connect your business to others in your community.

Ultimately, however, here’s the “why” bottom-line: giving back is simply the right thing to do. Because life is fleeting. Life throws us all curve balls, and sometimes we just aren’t able to handle them on our own. We in this industry see it every day with our own customers, right? The long-term, debilitating diseases that have no cure (yet). The aggressive diseases and conditions that take loved ones far too quickly. The tragic accidents that offer no goodbyes. Simply natural causes for someone revered and beloved. And everything in between.

They all offer legitimate giving opportunities. But as a business, how can you commit to giving back on a more consistent basis, especially when your financial bottom-line may not be able to understand your “why” bottom-line?

First and foremost, let your own personal experiences and interests guide you in choosing organizations to support. After all, those you have a connection with will keep you passionate and driven to make ongoing giving more of a priority.

This can range from supporting a local arts group you’ve always admired for its work in the community, to a national charity that, as I’ve experienced myself this year, funds research or supports families affected by various diseases. Giving back from your business to organizations large and small is a chance to show you’re helping those – including you, your employees, and your customers – who may need a helping hand. Change your beneficiary every month, and you can help several throughout the year!

Speaking of your employees and customers, get them involved in your giving efforts. They’re both valuable and vital in the process, while they can also lighten your financial load.

What are your employees passionate about? Let them choose a giving theme one month, as maybe they have special connections of their own. I’m proud to note our marketing director for his own giving efforts. He regularly volunteers his time at children’s organizations and local food banks. In addition, his wife helps Spanish speakers who are new to our area to more easily transition into their new home, as well as offers ongoing translation services.

This illustrates that not all your giving efforts need to be financial. Time is infinitely valuable. Maybe pick a time when your team can all volunteer together at an organization you are all drawn to. This will not only create opportunities to boost morale within your business, but it may also give you some insight as to the leaders hidden within.

Your customers can also participate. Do you have a brick-and-mortar store? Why not put out a bin for canned foods, toys, blessing bags, coats, gently used shoes, and the like for year-round gathering? Add a note about it to your invoices and/or put a sign up within your business to tell your customers more. Even if you don’t get a lot of repeat traffic, someone may remember your effort and make a special trip back just to help out.

If you’re online only, add a giving page to your website that lets your visitors know to which organization you’re giving and how they can join in. Options are allowing them to add a small donation to each purchase and/or offering special themed or environmentally responsible products for which you will make a donation on behalf of your business after a certain time.

No matter how you choose to give back, be proud of your efforts and spread the word. Send the news to your local media and let them help you tell your story.

After all, you don’t grow a business alone. It’s a collaborative effort. It takes a village. Without my own customers and employees, I wouldn’t be where I am today. But I’ve also learned you can’t just take. You have to give back, too. Believe me, it comes back to you. FBA

A former advertising professional turned RN, Andrea Bogard LeBlanc combined her business and compassionate sides with the founding of Bogati Urn Company in 2004. Headquartered in Sarasota, Florida, Bogati Urns offers funeral homes and crematories nationwide an unparalleled variety of urns, scattering tubes and related products. Andrea can be reached at (941) 351-3382 or [email protected]