How To Have a Charitable Business Without Spending Extra Money

Photo by  Tom Ezzatkhah  on  Unsplash

Photo by Tom Ezzatkhah on Unsplash

If you are an entrepreneur, you probably started your businesses with motivation to either serve a passion or underserved market. You've probably also realized that not every new business idea is going to change the world -- though that doesn't mean you can't contribute to change in other ways.

You don't have to be a Fortune 500 company worth millions (or billions) of dollars in order to give back. If you want to make your new business more charitable but don't have the money to do so yet, there are alternative solutions.  Philanthropy comes in different forms and dollar amounts, and every bit of it counts. In fact, according to a Funding Circle survey, 42% of small businesses give up to $1,000 in donations.

Here are alternative donation ideas for your business:

1. Buy from sources that donate your dollars 

Business expenses are inevitable, so why not buy supplies and services for your company from organizations that donate a percentage of your purchase to your favorite charity? If you often buy office supplies from, try using Amazon Smile.

This Amazon program allows you to link one 501(c)(3) to your standard account. The next time you shop, use their special Amazon Smile link and they'll automatically donate 0.5% of your purchase (excluding taxes and shipping) to the selected charity. My Amazon Smile account links to The Sarasota Cuban Ballet School. 

Even booked services like paying for a new website can help you give back. When The Sow Collective books marketing and design services for businesses, we donate a portion of all revenue to our Sow Kids fund, which supports our favorite organizations.  

2. Donate your rewards

Did you know that the points you earn on your business credit card, hotel stays, and flights can be donated directly to charities? Without spending extra money, your normal business schedule can rack up points transferrable to charity dollars in a flash. To cash in on this perk, head to your account's rewards portal and redeem or donate your points. You'll then be prompted to select the charity of your choice, if available. 

Things to note: not all companies participate in points programs that donate to charities, but it is easy to find out if yours does. Be mindful that when some points programs redeem points for charity cash, the dollar value per point may be lower. 

ABOVE:  Donate your points to charity with

ABOVE: Donate your points to charity with


3. Give back, in-kind

Donations don't have to be monetary. When you upgrade to new equipment for your business, donate items in usable condition to charities that can use it. Organizations could always use printers, fax machines, computers, phones, and other administrative hardware. Small supplies like paper and pens may not seem impactful, but their costs accumulate. If you have extra, share it.

Regardless of your industry, your company's inventory can be of use somewhere. If you make clothing, donate instead of discard items with small defects or out of season. If you offer professional services, volunteer some of your time and skill, whether onsite or remotely. 

If you don't have an inventory surplus or extra time to volunteer, discounts to 501(c)(3) customers help reduce their expenses and support their cause. 

How will your company give back?

No excuses: you can have a charitable business without spending extra money

Besides having major moral points and good karma, giving back is good business. Consumers today prefer to give their dollars to ethical companies who care about real issues and want to be a part of real solutions. In fact, studies show that nine out of ten millennial consumers will give their business to a company that values social responsibility. 

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About the author: Olivia Christine Perez is an award winning marketer, digital content creator, and founder of The Sow Collective. Learn more or work with us.