Do you ever feel like there is just SO MUCH going on in this topsy-turvy world we’re living in and there just isn’t enough you to make a social impact? I feel that! Sometimes there is so much we want to see changed in the world, that we feel like, “How can anything I do make a difference?”
Here’s a secret- your small actions do make an impact. And when I say small I mean it! You don’t have to do everything all the time to make a meaningful contribution. In fact, the more sustainable your small actions are (aka you aren’t burning yourself out doing them) the bigger your impact will be, because you’ll be able to maintain it over the long run.
And more good news! As a small business owner, there are several ways you can easily make a social impact through your finances. These actions not only help beat the “There’s nothing I can do” overwhelm, but they also help you build a business that creates the lifestyle you wants AND upholds your core values.
Excited to make a difference? Read on for 4 ways you can use your money for social impact:
Make small recurring monthly donations
Don’t have a lot of money to give all at once? Small, recurring donations are a fantastic way to support organizations you care about while managing your cash flow.
Many people think that unless you can donate a large of sum of money- why bother?! But the truth it is, for many organizations smaller donations, spread out over the course of a year, can help keep up with day to day costs and focus their grant and campaign money on programs.
While keeping the lights on and internet streaming may not seem like the most glamorous social impact your money can make- consider this: How much good work can really get done if you can’t send an email or turn the computer on?
Pretty much zero. Making small recurring donations ensure that organizations have the resources they need to do their work year-round.
These types of donations work best with smaller organizations who will really feel the impact of your donation. Your local area is FULL of amazing non-profits doing great work with little funds that would be SO grateful for your monthly donation.
Still, think your tiny contribution can’t make a difference? Think of it this way- $10 month is $120 over the course of the year and if 100 people gave $10/month that would add to $12,000! That’s nothing to sniff at!
You also get to write off any donations you make to a 501(c)3 nonprofit, which means you not only help others, you help yourself too.
Donate a percentage of your income
Many people donate 10% of their personal income to charity and you can replicate this process in your own business by donating 10% of your net income (everything you earn after your expenses). Some people do this on an annual basis, but I’m a big fan of donating on a quarterly basis. This way, you can spread your money out to different causes that are meaningful to you.
What if you’re just getting by?
One strategy is to create a threshold where, after you earn a certain amount, you begin donating 10% of your income. For example, perhaps you need to net $4,000/month to pay yourself. One month you net $6,000 month. You would donate 10% of that extra $2,000 that you earned- which is $200 dollars!
I love this strategy because let’s be honest, you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. This tactic ensures your needs are met while also giving you the space to donate when you can.
Shop at places that uphold your values
Donating isn’t for you? There are still ways that you can make a social impact through your business finances!
I’m a big fan of shopping at stores or from brands that uphold your core values. For example, if you care deeply about the environment, make a conscious effort to purchase from companies that focus on sustainability. Have a deep passion for human rights? Look into companies that focus on fair pay and labor conditions.
You can also shop via Amazon Smile. Amazon Smile lets you choose a charity and 0.5% of your total purchase will be donated to that charity. Sure, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but if 5,000 people are doing it- it really adds up!
Volunteer (and write off your costs!)
Self-employed people aren’t allowed to write off the value of their time when they volunteer BUT they are allowed to write off the costs associated with volunteering- which can be a benefit to you.
For example, if you’re a photographer and volunteer at a local dog rescue to take photos, you cannot write off the value of your services (so if you charge $200/hr and are taking pictures for 3 hours- you cannot write off $600). What you can write off is anything you purchase to help you take photos of the dogs, like dog toys and treats. You can also write off your mileage to and from the shelter.
Volunteering your services, especially if your services are in high demand (listen up web and graphic designers!), is a wonderful way to make a social impact without it hurting your wallet. Plus, even if you don’t spend anything, you can still write off your volunteer mileage which means you get a tax benefit for just giving back!
What’s your favorite way to use your money for social impact?