The untapped potential of small business donors
12/15/08 / Karla Raines
For several years now I’ve been suggesting to my local nonprofit community that they are leaving money on the table if they don’t develop strategies to cultivate small business donors to support their causes. Whenever I’d mention this idea I’d see nods of agreement but no action.
It may seem easier to pursue a few large corporations for bigger sums that a cadre of small businesses for smaller amounts of money. After all, in a community like ours there’s a limited number of large corporations and they typically have staff dedicated to philanthropy.
However, most of the companies in Colorado and metro Denver have fewer than 100 employees, with a large majority employing under 50. When I say most I mean over 90 percent. As such, I maintain that metro Denver nonprofits are losing out by not developing relationships with small businesses.
A recent survey by The Chronicle of Philanthropy confirmed the importance of developing this strategy. The Chronicle found that small businesses do give to charity and are generous. The survey of 750 business leaders of companies with fewer than 100 employees was conducted in partnership with American Express. The survey found that:
- Three-quarters of small-business owners donate a percentage of their profits to nonprofits.
- On average, small companies contribute 6 percent of their profits to charity.
- Female business owners tend to give more than men.
Here’s a call to action to Denver-area nonprofits. We’re here and we care about our communities. We are open to learning about your causes and see how they align with our passions and company missions. And I’m not suggesting that a cold-call end-of-year appeal letter is going to do the trick. Connect with me – and engage me – and I’ll support you. So will other small business owners. Let’s get started.